The XX Factor

Fear Not, Bill O’Reilly. Teenage Boys Aren’t Lining Up to Pretend They’re Girls.

Bill O’Reilly has perhaps not thought his criticisms of California’s new transgender law through

Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

Bill O’Reilly is really bent out of shape about a new California law granting transgender students the right to use facilities and participate in activities based on their gender identification and not the gender assigned to them at birth. His argument appears to boil down to two fears about young men going hog wild with their new power to cross over to the girls side: 1. They’re going to start joining girls’ athletic teams. 2. They’re going to start exploiting the wonderland of sexual opportunities that lurks behind the bathroom door labeled “Women.”

He called the new law the “biggest con in the world,” as if a bunch of cisgender young men got together and figured they’d dupe the stupid adults into letting them get into girls’ bathrooms. I wonder how far he’s taking this fantasy. Does he imagine a roomful of pimply 16-year-old boys, gathered for a meeting on the all-important topic of how to get into the same room as girls who are removing their pants? “We could maybe go on some dates with girls, develop relationships with them, and then maybe they’ll want to take their pants off in front of us,” one young man offers. “Nah,” another interrupts. “Too much trouble. Why don’t we all pretend that while we currently present as male, we actually feel that we’re better suited to be women, inform the school that we now identify as young women, and then we can go into a public restroom where girls are taking off their pants behind closed doors in stalls where we can’t see them.”

In general, O’Reilly seems to overrate the typical high school or junior high boy’s willingness to be considered “girly” at all, much less willing to identify as a girl. Oh sure, the idea that some young man who isn’t transgender in the slightest would decide to start wearing skirts and change his name from “Edward” to “Bella” so he could play basketball for the girls team after being deemed too short for the boys team makes perfect sense, if your entire understanding of how gender operates comes from teen sex movies from the 80s. In the real world, however, it’s safe to say that most young men would not be able to overcome the profound discomfort that comes from having to live your life as the wrong gender for something as simple as a basketball trophy. Indeed, the discomfort that comes from being asked to live as a gender that you don’t identify with is why laws like this are so critical; just as your typical teenage boy doesn’t want to wear dresses and play girls’ basketball, your typical transgender teen doesn’t want to live as the gender they don’t identify with just because mean old men like Bill O’Reilly get uptight about it.