A short note on transgender bathroom rights

I’ve become very frustrated by the opposition to bathroom rights for transgender people. It seems so obvious to me in interacting with friends and acquaintances who are transgender that having access to proper facilities is important for both their personal safety and comfort. I am especially frustrated because the current debate excludes trans voices (and since I am not a trans voice the perspective I can provide is limited). When we don’t try to understand and hear marginalized voices, communities are silenced as their rights are discussed and their near-term future decided. {I know a lot of people in the LGBT community are not huge fans of Caitlyn Jenner, but I think she wrote a good article on the issue that is a place to start for people searching for transgender voices. Please comment with other articles!}.

Mostly, opponents assert that these laws will increase the risk of sexual assault for women as men will utilize them in order to enter women’s restrooms. The idea that straight men will utilize protections for transgender people to sexually assault women really says more about what society thinks of straight men than it does about transgender people. So maybe, just maybe we should have some comprehensive discussion about how we address sexual assault in this country (and leads to actual reform).

Ultimately, laws that allow transgender people to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity are important because they protect a minority group in our community where people are being regularly murdered simply because of the arbitrary bigotry. Arguments against public accommodation of transgender individuals are specious at best, informed only by prejudice or ignorance. Over half of transgender individuals report that they have been sexually assaulted, and individuals who opposed protections for these people moving forward need to recognize that they are tacitly complicit in allowing this to happen. Allowing transgender individuals to have access to bathrooms where they are safe is important, and there is ZERO evidence showing that allowing transgender individuals into the proper bathrooms increases sexual assault in restrooms.

Furthermore, I believe we have already settled the question of whether or not businesses should be allowed to arbitrarily discriminate. This is not 1958, as a country we should know better than that, and be better than that.

Some of the narrative on the religious right would be amusing in its desperation if it weren’t so prevalent. Outlets such as Politifact have investigated numerous false claims about transgender and non-transgender individuals taking advantage of these laws to deliberately make cis-gender women feel uncomfortable and unsafe in bathrooms. Specifically, claims that the “leader” fighting anti-trans legislation in North Carolina is a sex-offender  deliberately deflect from the issue at hand, and imply that there is an obvious connection between the LGBT community and sexual deviance.

Desperate attempts to imply that all LGBT people are sexual deviants and that this is proof that transgender people just want bathroom laws changed in order to more easily rape people are ludicrously deceitful. It could easily be claimed that Dennis Hastart represents the typical social conservative, and that all social conservatives are using the fight for family values to hide wide-spread pedophilia…or that all Catholics are hiding their sexual abuse behind the guise of religion… because that’s how slippery slopes work. So I would suggest that if opponents of these laws justify discrimination with slippery slopes or through religion, that their positions are just wrong and inadmissible under the framework of a republic that believes in freedom and justice for all.

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