Recently, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to reverse a previous order allowing transgender individuals to use whichever bathroom they choose. The order stated that the states can make their own ruling on where transgender people can go to the bathroom. To date, 12 states are in the process of passing laws mandating transgender people must use the bathroom based on their biological sex. This is horrible blow in the fight for equality for transgender individuals.
Conservative groups claim sexual predators will use bathroom bills as an opportunity to gain access into female bathrooms. They will use this freedom to prey on unsuspecting women and young girls. This argument alludes trans people are in the same category as sexual predators. This is a foolish way of thinking. Why would a predator, who wants to sexually assault someone in a bathroom, take the time to put on a dress and apply lipstick? If he or she are going to sexually abuse someone they will simply do it. Sexual predators already occupy bathrooms with our sons and husbands. Why are we not more concerned with the safety of males? Should we not already be alarmed that public bathrooms put us in a vulnerable situation? Perhaps we need to focus more on establishing better privacy in restrooms where people can use the facilities in peace.
There is currently no statistical evidence to back-up an increase in sexual assault in bathrooms since the original legislation was put in place. In fact, The Advocate reports, “There has never been a verifiable reported instance of a trans person harassing a cisgender person, nor have there been any confirmed reports of male predators ‘pretending’ to be transgender to gain access to women’s spaces and commit crimes against them.” If this evidence exists why do groups, such as GLAAD, need to continue to fight for equality?
There is scientific evidence supporting sexual assault on trans people. According to the Office of Victims of Crime, one in two trans people are victims of sexual abuse. They estimate sexual assault rates are as high as 66 percent. These statistics are astronomically high. Bathroom ban legislation increases public fear which leads to an increase in hate crimes and assault on transgender people. These divisive laws are damaging to a group that clearly need to be protected. Perhaps we as a society, should delve further into what causes us to continually alienate minority groups rather than accept others as different yet equal.
Reuters reports suggests there is evidence which shows trans people are statistically more likely to suffer from depression. Isolating these individuals from their peers increases feelings of anxiety. Forcing these individuals into a bathroom with someone they consider to be the opposite sex will only further their feelings of depression and anxiety. Furthermore, bathroom bans fail to treat transgender and gender non-conforming people with the same respect given to cisgender individuals. The act of showing acceptance and respect to cisgender people and then withholding it from trans people is psychologically damaging.
Who will enforce these laws? Will we position bathroom police at every supermarket and gas station restroom in America? Will they check ID or, god forbid, genitalia before allowing someone to pass? The passing of bathroom bills contain no criteria for enforcement of the law.
This legislation is unenforceable and the time spent trying to pass these laws is waste of taxpayer’s money and resources. Chances are, you have had a trans man or woman in the stall next you, discreetly doing their business and you were none the wiser. This is because they were there for the same purpose as you: to use the restroom and get out.
Anti-trans laws are a new form of segregation. It is clear that the concern is not truly for the general public’s safety. If safety were the issue, conservatives would look at statistics and discontinue their rhetoric of inequality. The real goal is to oppress a group of people simply because trans people are misunderstood. They use fearmongering to spread their narrative of prejudice. Using fear is a powerful tactic in influencing others. While fear is helpful in many circumstances, it greatly hinders the critical thinking process.
The fight for equality for transgender and gender-nonconforming people are greatly hindered by bathroom bills. The issues that transgender groups face deserve our attention. We need to stop looking at transgender people as a collective group. It is easy to form an opinion about someone when they have no name and knowledge of the subject is hypothetical. If we would only take the time to get to know these individuals, maybe we could possibly learn something. If we paused to listen we would possibly learn that they only want to be treated equally to their peers and use the bathroom in peace. Being kind and respectful of others will never be the wrong decision. Just let them pee.
Sarah Hart is a student at Edison State Community College.
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