Not that I think it's so important to appease closed-minded gender normists. But if people arguing for genital-based bathroom usage are citing some sort of indescribable impoliteness, civil unrest, or ick factor, I think allowing transgendered bathroom use actually causes less of those things. After all, if you live in an urban area, you've probably shared a public bathroom with a transgendered person and never knew it, just as we've all changed clothes next to dozens of gay people in gym locker rooms without fistfights or societal collapse.
I think pretty much everyone is aware of that (most of us anyway). It's what I was talking about when I said that it's only not a problem because she's concealing from the other women in the restroom that she has a penis. Call me a weird kind of idealist (and I know this will shock some of you who have a stereotypical view of me), but I don't think that people should have to hide what they are. The problem, as several people have pointed out, is that currently there is an expectation that people with penises will use different restroom facilities than people with vaginas. Which puts us in the odd position of having the trans woman, wearing a dress, looking for all the world like a woman, being required to use the mens restroom because she has a penis. the only alternative is to do exactly what Rachel said: Basically lie (or in her case, pretend that restrooms are divided by gender, so it's perfectly ok what she's doing).
Where this gets really tricky, which I touched on earlier, is where do you draw the line in terms of self image with regard to this? If the argument were really based on what someone's gender identity is, and the problem is avoided because that person can use the restroom that matches their gender without raising a ruckus, then this assumes the external features of that person match with some stereotypical traits associated with that gender (which I suspect was what Alma was clumsily trying to say). But the very nature of transgendered people assumes that gender roles can't be assumed based on external appearance, so why stop short of clothing, demeanor, etc? Why say "I'm a woman because I like wearing dresses, and makeup, and heels, and ribbons in my hair, and I like playing with dolls". I know a number of women who'd find those assumptions offensive (at least one, violently so), but yet that's precisely what's assumed when we talk about trans use of a restroom matching their gender being less problematic than using the restroom matching their sex. It's only less of an issue if we assume the trans is taking on the outward appearance of the gender in question sufficiently to fool others.
I guess I just like to think these things a step or two father and ask "What are you fooling them about?" and "Is that really what we should be doing?". Unfortunately, there's no good answer to this. Yes, ideally we should have unisex restrooms, with private stalls in them, and be done with it. But there are a lot of people in our society who would not be comfortable with that, evidenced by the very slow adoption and general dissatisfaction with such arrangements when they are implemented. Implementing individual private restrooms works, but is expensive. This also just kicks the can down the road, so to speak. What about locker rooms? Showers (this started with a question about a public school, right)? What about sport attendance? There's also a push to allow trans kids to participate in sports based on their gender and not their sex. Which I imagine will cause all sorts of problems.
At some point, political correctness leads us to unworkable results and we should acknowledge that. You just can't adjust the rules to accommodate everyone, or you end out accommodating no one.
Edited, Apr 3rd 2013 2:26pm by gbaji