Let’s face it. Most of us have not had that much contact with transgender people. And anything or anyone that is new and different to us can make people uncomfortable. That’s why it is not surprising and in fact it’s completely understandable that a New Jersey principal and his wife allegedly took issue with a transgender girl is in the men’s room, as was reported on breakingAC.com.

According to the story, a couple who visited a bar/restaurant in Smithville became incensed when they noticed what appeared to be a trans woman using the girls room. An argument ensued, which ended, according to the story, with the man chucking his beer toward a woman nearby who had told the man to “take your hatred somewhere else.”

The issue is that people of a certain age are having new ideas and concepts introduced to them daily while younger people have lived with them their entire lives. The world is progressing and changing so rapidly that many people feel they are being made to accept new ideas and principles immediately when some things take time to get used to.

That’s why I think we need to cut someone slack if they are not used to having the idea of someone who was so obviously born a different gender using their gender’s facilities. I get it. It’s new: in the olden days, before awareness was brought to the transgender/bathroom dilemma, most people wouldn’t have even thought of it.

But we have to admit to ourselves that it’s strange to a lot of people—in fact, to most people. That’s the LITERAL definition of “Transphobia.” That’s why it’s always offended me that people think of “homophobia” or “transphobia” as bad. “Phobia” doesn’t mean “hate.” It means fear. It’s something you’re afraid of, but don’t necessarily know why. It’s understandable.

On the other hand, the man, who is alleged to be the principal of a New Jersey high school, was obviously wrong. His behavior as well as that of his wife was is inexcusable and embarrassing and pushes any boundary of decency and decorum. And I’m sure that alcohol fueled his alleged temper tantrum, As alcohol is want to do.

Common sense dictates that if you’re uncomfortable with anything going on in a public place, you leave. But the discomfort is real. That’s why I so appreciated a few years back when a Pennsylvania woman posted an opportunity on Reddit for people to ask her all the invasive questions that they’ve always wanted to ask trans people. At the time, BBC.com reported about the Reddit post by Gwen, 24. The article is worth revisiting now.

Gwen helped not only the curiosity seekers, but those who were really trying to understand and empathize. It’s a helpful primer if you’ve never encountered transgender people and want to know more about them and what is—and is not— appropriate to ask. The more we learn, the more acceptance we will have and the less beer will be thrown around at restaurants.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi's own.

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