The Real Problem with Transgender Bathroom Laws

A few weeks ago, a friend who is a police officer in a major metropolitan area came to visit. Over dinner, she told us about a report she’d taken from a transgender man-to-woman citizen who had been denied entrance to the women’s bathroom by a club bouncer. According to our friend, the city’s ordinances guarantee the right for a person to use the restroom for the gender with whom they identify, no questions asked. As a consequence, our friend had to write the report and inform the transgender citizen of the ability to lodge a human rights complaint.

The more I thought about this, the angrier I got.

I have four daughters. Four natural-born daughters whose privacy, comfort, and even safety are dismissed so that a natural-born man who believes he’s a woman can enter their most intimate spaces. In the situation that happened at the club, the man obviously presented a masculine-enough appearance that security felt the need to check him at the bathroom door. But according to city law, this man has every right to go into the women’s bathroom. And to hell with biologically female patrons’ feelings about that.   

Which begs the question–if the only standard is how a person personally identifies his or her gender, with not even appearance being a factor, then what’s to stop a “normal-looking” man from asserting his right to enter women’s facilities? What’s to stop him from entering that space and assaulting women or children?

The National Center for Transgender Equality says that would never happen. According to Monika Johnson Hostler, president of the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, We can tell you that laws that give transgender people the right to use the correct restroom [my emphasis] do not put women and children at additional risk of assault. If they did, we would scream from the rooftops!”

Except it happens, folks. And it happens a lot. Don’t believe me? Check out these stories of men dressing as women to gain access to women’s restrooms and locker rooms specifically to violate and assault them:

There are more. Many more.

Let’s be clear–the issue is NOT whether individuals who identify as transgender are more likely to sexually assault women and children. No one is claiming that. In fact, most research I’ve seen shows transgender people are no more likely to harm a child or adult than anyone else in the population. The problem, however, is when laws permit citizens to use any group bathroom they choose based on something as subjective as their preference/identity, then actual predators can and will take advantage to gain access to women’s intimate spaces.

Our local grocery store’s bathroom is located down a long hallway that runs the length of the store. It’s an isolated space and I’ve rarely encountered anyone else in it. It’s one of those places that raises my hackles every time one of my children needs to use the restroom, because it would be the ideal place to assault them–it’s isolated, rarely used, and so far away you’d never hear their screams.

The space scares me so much I won’t allow my children to use it without supervision. If I can’t go with them, I’ll at least send them two-by-two (I always have at least one teen with me). But I’m anxious the entire time. Until now, I could at least count on the social barrier of men–or people who look like men–not being allowed into that bathroom without it raising the alarm. In the future, I won’t even have that to protect my girls.

There’s a reality with transgender bathroom access that no one wants to acknowledge: Women and girls are simply more vulnerable to sexual assault than men and boys. Why? Because natural-born men will ALWAYS have a biological advantage over us physically. Men have more muscle mass, bigger hearts, and greater lung capacity. They are just stronger, by design. One look at the recent world championship of women’s cycling–who is trangender–shows this inescapable fact. This is one reason bathrooms and locker rooms are segregated by biological sex–it is simply safer for women to be in the vulnerable positions of exposing their bodies without sharing the company of men.

Our faith teaches that every human being must be treated with dignity and yes, that includes individuals who identify as transgender. But if there is an answer to this thorny issue, it cannot be one that puts natural-born women at increased risk for predators. I’m not the only one who thinks so, either: some militant feminist groups also are arguing laws that permit anyone to use any bathroom of his or her choice puts women at significantly greater risk for sexual harassment and assault.

Perhaps–ironically–the only viable solution is a transition away from sex-separated group bathrooms to self-contained, single-user stalls with public hand-washing stations.

What do you think, readers?

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