Bathroom use debate ignores basic rights
POSTEDJune 6, 2016
Transgender people wrongly portrayed as dangerous in national discussion about using bathrooms corresponding to gender identity
The reason many people are so frightened about allowing individuals to use restrooms corresponding to their gender identity rather than that listed on their birth certificates is, for the most part, based on a fundamental misunderstanding of transgender people.
On April 1, North Carolina set House Bill 2 into effect. HB2 made it illegal for anyone to use a bathroom or changing facility that did not correspond with the sex on their birth certificate. The intended effect of HB2 was to prevent transgender people from using facilities that corresponded with their gender identity.
It caused immediate and widespread uproar throughout the nation. Following HB2, many other cities and states proposed similar ordinances, called Bathroom Bills, which have been met with varying levels of success. In our own backyard, Rockwall successfully killed one such bill this past month.
Businesses and celebrities have also begun to take positions in the debate, and individuals have begun boycotting cities, states and corporations that pass, or refuse to pass, Bathroom Bills.
Prominent politicians like to paint transgender people as sexual deviants, so confused or depraved they don’t know who they “really” are, and in order to prey on others, pretend to be a different gender. Think: Greg Abbott’s “No men in women’s bathrooms” tweet, which garnered responses from the electorate like, “It’s not safe. … Anyone can claim to be trans … and I’m sure kidnapping and child rape will increase.”
This is far from the truth. There is not one recorded instance of a transgender person sexually assaulting anyone in a bathroom. In fact, according to Zack Ford, the LGBT editor of thinkprogress.org, it is significantly more likely for a transgender person, especially a transgender woman, to be attacked in a bathroom than it is for her to attack someone else.
Transgender people are not inherently sexually depraved and do not want access to bathrooms so that they can prey on children or women. Transgender people are simply people whose gender identity does not correspond with the gender assigned to them at birth. For example, a transgender woman is someone who was assigned male at birth but identifies as female. A transgender man is someone who was assigned female at birth but identifies as male.
Many transgender people choose to undergo a series of social and/or medical procedures to reaffirm their gender identity, or simply to have fewer legal problems. Some may choose not to, while others may be financially unable to go through these changes formally.
Although birth certificates can be changed to correspond to one’s gender identity, it is often a difficult and lengthy process, so many transgender people do not have birth certificates that correspond to their identity. This is why politicians have picked birth certificates as the qualifier for bathroom use. Transgender people are just people, not confused, not mentally ill and not sexual predators.
Why, then, should transgender people be able to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity? Because there is no reason not to and so many reasons to let us. Transgender people don’t want to assault people in the bathroom. We just want to use the toilets, just like everyone else.
We’re safer in our bathrooms of choice, too. Numerous reports detail attacks on transgender women by cisgender individuals (people who are not transgender) in bathrooms, but there have been no confirmed reports of transgender people attacking the latter, according to Ford.
Also, sexual assault continues to be illegal. No predator who was previously planning to go into a restroom to harass people will be deterred by more laws. Sexual assault is already illegal and pretending to be transgender won’t allow sexual predators to go unpunished. Sexual assault is sexual assault, regardless of gender identity.
The only thing transgender people will be allowed to do in bathrooms is what everyone else is doing: using the bathroom. Reaffirming that right creates a supportive environment for transgender people. It shows transgender people that the school, or gym or office is supportive of them and acknowledges they are in fact human beings — not sexual predators.