This issue has been all over social media and the news. For those who haven’t had the time or energy to follow every development, the issue is this: North Carolina and other states have passed bills that forbid people from using a bathroom that does not match the sex stated on their birth certificate. Essentially, it means transgender individuals must use the bathroom that goes against their gender identity. The reasoning: it “makes bathrooms safer.” Proponents of these bills say it isn’t about transgender people, but to prevent cis men from using the transgender label to get into women’s bathrooms. However, it was never illegal for men to enter a woman’s bathroom anyway, which has led opponents of the bill to say the laws really are about transgenders and the misconception that they are all “perverts.” North Carolina has not clarified how its bill will be enforced.
Various businesses and public figures have condemned bathroom bills, earning support and boycotts alike. Target, who reiterated its policy about allowing people to use the bathroom of their choice, has gotten a lot of publicity.
I have zero personal experience with these bills, and being a cis woman, I don’t want to talk over transgender people who are affected on a daily basis by this issue. Instead, I want to present some of the best articles I’ve found on the topic, along with good pull quotes for those who don’t want to read an entire article.
Sexual abuse happens. I wish it didn’t. I wish it hadn’t to me. But creating laws about where someone can or can’t pee isn’t going to prevent abuse. Let’s hold accountable those who commit crimes when and if they commit them, instead of asking trans people to sacrifice bathroom safety to pay for crimes that non-trans people might possibly commit someday. – “What I want you to know about being a sexual abuse survivor and Target shopper” by Anonymous
Transgender people have said bathroom access is one of their “most pressing challenges,” Seelman writes in the study, which was published in February in theJournal of Homosexuality. Trans people have reported getting stared at or being asked to leave, something that causes them “great stress,” according to researchers. Seelman highlights an earlier study of 93 trans people that found 68 percent had been verbally harassed in bathrooms, and 9 percent were physically assaulted… “This suggests that there may be a distinct relationship between the stress of not being able to use bathrooms or gender-appropriate campus housing and one’s mental health,” Seelman writes. – “The True Harm of Bathroom Bills” by Olga Khazan
As is explained in the lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s exclusionary bathroom bill, forcing transgender individuals to use a bathroom that does not correspond with their gender identity and outward gender expression outsthat person as transgender each time they use the public restroom….. But unfortunately, as much of the political discourse surrounding transgender bathroom access demonstrates, our society is rife with misunderstanding and, at times, animus toward transgender individuals. Transgender people are subject to high levels of violence, poverty, incarceration, and employment discrimination. And since comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for transgender people are lacking, maintaining privacy over one’s trans status may be critical to a range of activities from obtaining a job to keeping safe. – “Bathroom Bills and the Battle Over Privacy” by Scott Skinner-Thompson
“If you walk in and you’re presenting as female, even if you have passing privilege, you walk into the men’s room and you’ve immediately identified yourself as a lost cisgender woman… or you walk in and you stay and that immediately marks you as transgender.… Last year, we had 22 or 23 trans women murdered. And we’ve got North Carolina legislators… having beat the drum that transgender people are perverts and have no rights. You walk into a bathroom, you’ve announced yourself as transgender and everyone in that bathroom has been told that you’re a child-molesting, subhuman monster. Whatever compunctions they have against violence have been significantly lowered.” – “What It’s Like to Use a Public Bathroom While Trans” by Nico Lang (story by Brynn)
I’m telling you that no trans or gender non-conforming person wants to use the bathroom for any other reason than you do. I’m telling you that this has never been about sexual predators (who don’t need bathrooms to hurt people, and who won’t be discouraged by an anti-trans bathroom law), but about harming trans people. I’m telling you that I’d like to spend a whole lot less time thinking about bathrooms than I do…The other night I read about a woman who has decided to bring her gun into restrooms from now on in order to “protect” herself from “perverts” who come in. To be clear, that meant anyone that she thought didn’t belong in a women’s room. Shoot first. Ask questions later. I joked with my wife, “So, that’s how I’m going to die. I’m going to go into a Target bathroom with that woman and she’s going to think I’m a dude and shoot me.” This time my wife didn’t laugh. – “On Restrooms, Gender, and Fear,” by Emily C. Health