Anti-Trans Bathroom Bills Have Nothing to Do With Privacy and Everything To Do With Fear and Hatred

This piece originally appeared at The Huffington Post
 
If social conservatives in Tennessee get their way, the state will soon become the second in the nation to use the coercive power of the government to force people into bathrooms that violate their very sense of self or risk punishment. Legislation targeting trans students pending in both houses in the state’s legislature would require public school and university students to use a bathroom or locker room that matches the sex recorded on their birth certificate. Limited-government it’s not.
 
Tennessee legislators, though, aren’t original in their bigotry. North Carolina controversially passed an even broader law in March, and at least 30 similar bills have been introduced in a total of 16 states this year alone. Proponents of these discriminatory anti-trans bathroom bills have advanced many arguments for why they are necessary. Most are absurd “urban legends.” Some argue these bills are necessary to stop predatory men from dressing up as women, entering the female restroom, and then attacking unsuspecting women. The more restrained say it will stop men from just trying to sneak a peek. Not surprisingly, these are solutions in search of a problem. There is neither evidence that anyone has used the fictional “transgender defense” for illegal conduct nor reports of any increase in public safety incidents in any of the hundreds of jurisdictions that have extended legal protections to transgender people.
 

But let’s get real, these bills aren’t motivated by privacy concerns — they’re motivated by ignorance, misinformation, and fear.

 
The argument getting the most traction, however, is the idea that compelling trans people to use the bathroom that corresponds to their assigned sex at birth protects the privacy of non-transgender boys and girls and men and women. “Letting boys into girls’ restrooms and changing areas, for example, is an invasion of privacy,” said Matt Sharp, a lawyer with the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom, in defense of Tennessee’s bill. One of the stated purposes of Florida’s defeated bill last year was “to secure privacy … for all individuals using single-sex public facilities.” North Carolina legislators this year went so far as to name their anti-trans bathroom bill, the “Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act.”
 
As a threshold matter, no one is proposing letting boys into girls’ bathrooms. Preying on misinformation about transgender people and calling trans girls boys, advocates for these harmful measures decry the fictitious end of sex-segregated spaces altogether.
 
But even beyond the absurd distortions peddled in state legislatures across the country, these purported privacy justifications for unconstitutional government discrimination aren’t remotely persuasive. It does not infringe anyone else’s rights to share public space with those who are different. People just don’t get naked in the restroom, and we should all just keep our eyes to ourselves, anyway.  Like previous efforts to expel people of color, people with disabilities, and others from communal space, these arguments for privacy just mask a fear of difference. And as courts have repeatedly recognized, those who are uncomfortable with sharing such spaces can seek out private spaces for themselves rather than force transgender people to be forever stigmatized and isolated.
 
The privacy argument for these anti-trans bathroom bills falls completely apart when it comes to enforcement. Who exactly will have the authority to verify who is “male” or who is “female”? Will there be pee police? What will happen to androgynous men and women who don’t conform to the police officer or bureaucrat’s notion of what “real” maleness or femaleness is? For legislators trying to protect privacy, the unintended or ill-considered consequences of these bills seem to undermine their purpose.
 
But let’s get real, these bills aren’t motivated by privacy concerns — they’re motivated by ignorance, misinformation, and fear. Many people, particularly social conservatives, find transgender people, at best, curiosities, and, at worst, less than human, even if the more political hide their disgust with carefully crafted language. The bill’s sponsor in Tennessee, Republican Rep. Susan Lynn, called her measure “very friendly.” Trans students may mistake her kindness for cruelty because forcing transgender people to use the wrong restroom will have terrible consequences for their very real privacy interests as well as their safety.
 
Transgender people, whether people know it or not, are already using the bathrooms they have a right to, and doing so without incident. In fact, hundreds of localities and school districts across the country have created more welcoming environments for all, including transgender people, and mayors and law enforcement leaders and others have said nondiscrimination protections actually make their cities safer. Laws like North Carolina’s and bills like Tennessee’s, if enacted, mean transgender people will have to make the impossible decision of breaking the law or revealing their private medical information. Not to mention the obvious risk of harassment and violence that comes with forcing transgender women into men’s restrooms and transgender men into women’s restrooms.  The fear of violence is already a daily reality for transgender people, and bills like these could very well make it unsafe for trans people to go out in public if they become law.
 
Sometimes legislators have fantasized about committing such acts of violence. In 2012, Tennessee State Representative Richard Floyd, who introduced his very own anti-trans bathroom bill that year, described just what he’d do if he discovered a transgender woman in the same bathroom or dressing room as his wife or one of his daughters. “I’d just try to stomp a mudhole in him and then stomp him dry,” he told The Chattanooga Times Free Press. “Don’t ask me to adjust to their perverted way of thinking and put my family at risk.”
 
That state lawmakers feel so emboldened to threaten trans people with physical violence is a testament to the hostile and scary world in which trans people live. These proposed laws and the conversations about them contribute to the climate in which almost 50 percent of transgender people attempt suicide in their lives and transgender women of color are increasingly the target of deadly violence at the hands of partners and strangers.
 
It is quite clear whose privacy and very lives are really at risk if state legislatures continue to succumb to anti-trans fear and hatred and give it state sanction.

 

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Anonymous

So straight people should have to find a different bathroom to use if they feel uncomfortable but the LGBTs' can use whatever they want. How about they find another bathroom as there are alot less of them than straights. You people are ruining the world even more than it is already

Tonia

I guess I don't understand the accusations that I have been sexually molested, that I am a pedophile, that I sexually molest other people, or that I'm homosexual come from. You know nothing about me and you couldn't be more wrong.

I am a transgender woman. I was born with male body parts though my identity has always been female. So, I had the body parts corrected. I don't know how I ended up transgendered, I just am. I don't want praise for it, I don't want pity for it, and I certainly am not willing to accept any hostility over it.

While I do not need an excuse of why I ended up trans, the fact is that I was castrated in the womb. My mother was given Depo Provera in attempt to prevent her from having a spontaneous abortion. That is the drug they give sex offenders to eliminate sexual aggression. Nearly ever mammal develops cross-gender behavior when exposed to this substance at a particular point in fetal development and there is no reason to believe that humans are any different.

I have never been sexually or physically abused. I have only been mentally abused by persons feel a need to express their religious beliefs.

I was an Eagle Scout. I was a West Point cadet and gave my service to this nation through the US Army. I have a Master's Degree in Environmental Engineering. My job is to prevent people from getting hurt on the job and to prevent damage to the environment at fifteen manufacturing sites around the globe.

I am a spouse, parent, daughter, granddaughter, aunt, church member, blood donor, youth coach, youth volunteer, school volunteer, youth chaperone, and volunteer for the disabled. Kids were always thrilled to have me take them to water parks or white water rafting, as were their parents. People that know me have never been afraid of me. I am a human being with feeling, goals, dreams, and only one life to enjoy it in. I object strongly to those that show disrespect to me as a person, by denying my freedom and pursuit of happiness.

I am lifetime monogamous, only having had sex with one person my entire life, that being my former wife. I have not had sex in 17 years. I am currently asexual, in that I don't have any particular interest in having sex, or watching a person pee for that matter.

Each transgender person has their own life story. It is their narrative. Have the courtesy of letting them tell their narrative. It is disingenuous for you to create their narrative by tagging on every perversion and crime that might paint us as the villains that you want to see us as. The descriptions that you have flung about are completely inapplicable to me and clearly not applicable to the majority of us. If you want to tag us with psychiatric illnesses try adding anxiety and depression, those are the one which most universally apply. The rest is just stuff that you made up or heard from someone else who made it up. I'm guessing you have never actually talked to a transgender person before. Give it a try, but listen mostly, you might learn something.

OUTRAGED

What is the problem here, I do not understand why the rights of a few always bash the rights of the many? There WILL be perverts out there taking full advantage that we now have allowed our children to become free for the taking victims. Do you not realize that you have just awarded pedafiles, perverts, voyagers and rapists a get out of jail free card??? Who is going to protect the children....or are we waiting until AFTER one is molested or kidnapped? If this is your vote then I want my grandson and great nieces and nephews to have a girls/boys only bathroom in their schools and in public forums! What is good for the goose is good for the gander! Do we really want a 6 or 7 year old boy or girl watching an old man pee, or a girl squat at a urinal? So I am awaiting your fight for that to occur as I write,I am very concerned as a person who has visited this site for the first time and see that prisoners, transgender persons etc. have the first headlines, what is going on with that? Feedback welcomed, along with what the ACLU is going to do now to fix this MESS!

OUTRAGED

WTG Anonymous, I read your response and show you empathy and God Bless you! The hateful comments listed after your post shows you how low a so called human being can sink. Listen idiots, it has nothing to do with gender mutations, it has to do with my rights being trampled on to protect theirs, where in the Constitution or thee Bill of Rights does it say, the minority rule the majority?

Tonia

I am very interested in protecting those little girls and adolescents that are getting molested and sexually abused. I care about as much as anyone on this issue. So I have a proposal that we stop the whole trans bathroom nonsense and address the real risk. Lets make it unlawful for grandfathers, uncles, cousins, and male neighbors from being alone with a minor girl. While we at it, no more dads driving home the baby sitter. I think that covers the most common causes of sexual crimes against children. Oh, we need to reserve dating for girls over 18. I knew I was missing a big one.

Anonymous

I believe everyone should have the right to their privacy, be respected, and treated with dignity. I think it's good to talk about it and find a way to make peace. I believe we should find a better way to the Bathroom facility rule, than stripping away a female's right to her privacy. I was born with a female anatomy, to be female isn't about what I "feel" about myself, it's what I know about anatomy. When I was about 8, I liked to roll around in the grass with the boys, and play fight, football, soccer, baseball, handball, etc ,and I liked to do girly things too, play with my dolls, hang out with friends, and go to the mall. Did I "feel" like a boy around those boys? No. I didn't "feel" like a boy, because I don't truly know what a boy truly "feels" like. I can have an opinion about it, and that's all. When I was about 4 years old, I surprisingly discovered that a boy's anatomy was different from me, from that day on, I went to nursery school with my swimsuit on, to not let a boy see me in my underwear and t-shrit. My modesty has always been important to me, it's just a fact. I'm not homophobic, it's just that I see that males and females we are born different. The reason I liked to roll around in the dirt with the boys, was because I was curious about boys, who they were, and it was part of my natural development of discovering and respecting their strength, and beauty. How does a male, born with a male's anatomy, know what it truly "feels" like to be born with a female's anatomy? You can not "feel" your way out of this, you either are or you aren't. To allow a biological male into a woman's public showers is against a female's privacy, it's not about fear, it's about our right to privacy, and modesty. (I'm not referring to androgynous transgenders, to be born with both anatomies is another story.) When a biological male says that he "feels" like a woman, what is he talking about? Where is your reference to your "feelings" coming from? Your mother? Your sisters, TV? How can you "feel" something you know nothing about? You can get an idea of how we feel, but not the whole truth.
In truth, I know that there a males who are "feeling" something or else we wouldn't be here talking about it, but to have a law or rule that gives a male the right to enter our privacy in public bathrooms and showers based on how he "feels" about himself, is not a good reason.
I am in agreement to make new bathrooms, and if those who "feel" misplaced in this world doesn't want them, how about for those who still want and deserve their right privacy. To discriminate is like a double edge sword....you still have to help the people live in a functional society. We can't change people minds, but we can learn to understand one another, and grow in love, respect, kindness, and truth. Forgive me if you find my honesty offensive, it's not to offend, but to come out into the light and talk about it, then true change can happen. Blessings to everyone. Hugs...

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