Based on internet comment sections over the last two years, you’d think America was besieged by an epidemic of sexual assaults by transgender predators in public restrooms. Houston’s nondiscrimination ordinance was demagogued to repeal last year, and North Carolina and Mississippi passed bills outlawing similar local policies over the last two months.
Fortunately, that’s not the case. There has never been a single incident of a person convicted of a crime in the United States using transgender public accommodations to do so. Never. Not one.
Transgender bathroom access like Houston proposed, and NC and MS banned, has been legal in Colorado, Maryland, San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, and DC for years – a full decade in DC’s case. Over that time there has not been a single case of abuse that conservatives argue will immediately swamp police departments in every place the issue is raised. None.
But let’s give them the benefit of the doubt that this is their real concern (and not just latent bigotry). Let’s say your top priority in life is preventing lewd behavior, assaults, and peeping toms in public restrooms. Transgender access should be the last thing you worry about. Here are a few that should come first:
1. Gays in public bathrooms
While it’s often difficult to identify transgender individuals, it’s even more difficult to identify non-heterosexual individuals (Full disclosure: I am one. SURPRISE!). That means that for years – centuries even – there have been homosexual men in the men’s restroom. If allowing trans women in the women’s room is an unacceptable risk, surely allowing homosexual and bisexual men in the men’s room is even more so.
For starters, there are a lot more non-straight men in the world than there are transgender individuals. Surely the risk of a bathroom assault epidemic is already astronomical! And yet in my almost 36 years I’ve never been assaulted in the bathroom by a gay or bisexual man. You?
2. Old people in public bathrooms
Much of the demagoguery around transgender restroom access relies on our children as human shields. Our precious daughters will be subject to relentless assault by trans women or dirty old men disguised as trans women!
The problem here isn’t the gender, is it? It’s the age. There are even fewer transgender children than transgender adults, and pre-adolescence the likelihood of engaging in sexual assault is even more non-existent than in general. So why not segregate public bathrooms by age? Instead of (or in addition to) separate bathrooms for men and women, just have separate bathrooms for children and adults.
The children’s bathroom would obviously have to have an armed law enforcement guarding it. I’m sure small government conservatives would have no problem with that.
3. Sex offenders in public bathrooms
This one is so obvious, so simple, such an easy defense, and yet I’ve never heard it suggested once in all the efforts to prevent transgender persons from using the restroom.
Why aren’t sex offenders barred from using public restrooms? If you’re really worried about women and children being targeted by perverts in the bathroom, wouldn’t you want to start by banning the perverts who have already targeted women and children?
It’s the same flaw undermining one argument against marriage equality. If you’re really concerned with the “sanctity of marriage”, shouldn’t you start with the actual assault on marriage – divorce – not preventing more marriages?