Let me pee in peace, please.

Why the bathroom debate needs to end, and how we can learn to be more inclusive to trans and non-binary people in the process.

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Image description: A black sign with white text and images in a fern grove. The sign has the image of a person in a skirt and a person with pants next to the word “toilet” with an arrow pointing to the left of the frame.

Why Trans People Aren’t a Threat to “Real Women”

The first argument is that transgender people will take advantage of women and children in bathrooms. Although a simple Snopes search can prove the opposite, many people claim there have been cases of transgender women raping cisgender women in bathrooms (Snopes.com). Despite citizen insistence at having transgender bathroom laws, they do not seem to acknowledge that would involve checking everyone’s genitalia at the door, a complicated proposition. Perhaps because of this, over half of Americans believe transgender people should use the bathroom of their choice (Public Religion Institute). Many recognize that a gendered bathroom door will not stop a rapist from attacking their victim if they so choose. As police and officials of states state, “’If the behavior’s there, [sexual predators are] gonna behave as they’re gonna behave no matter what the laws are’” (Steinmetz). A gendered sign on a restroom door is not a sigil of protection against predatory action. Numerous people also recognized that rape is typically not committed by a stranger in the first place. In fact, fifty-nine percent of rapes are committed by someone the survivor already knew, not necessarily by a stranger (RAINN). Preventing transgender people from going to the bathroom of their choice does not ‘help protect women and children.’ Research has even shown that denying the right to go to the bathroom to transgender people “reproduces oppression and domination of marginalized groups” (Seelman 198). It is harmful to all parties to assume bathroom laws prevent a crime that didn’t exist in the first place. Bathroom laws are clumsy, irrelevant pieces of legislation that do not hold up against science or social convention.

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Image description: A line of urinals on a white tile wall. The upper half of the wall is painted white and the floor has a speckled grey patterned tile.

Separating Sex and Gender

In reality, transgender bathroom rights aren’t really about bathrooms. They are really about the idea of transgender people not conforming to norms. Many argue that sex or gender is inherent and that being transgender is made up. However, as has been shown scientifically, gender and sex are culturally constructed ideas heavily influenced by society.

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Image description: A sign hanging from the ceiling by white bars. The sign is yellow and has the symbols for changing station, wheelchair access, and “water closet” with the figures of a person in a skirt and a person with pants on. The sign points to the right of the frame with an arrow.

Trans Rights are Human Rights

A third argument held by those upholding discriminatory bathroom laws is that states should have the right to determine their individual policies. However, transgender rights are not a state’s rights issue, they are a human rights issue and therefore under the jurisdiction of the federal government. America has a bill of rights to prevent states from taking away privileges meant for everyone. Furthermore, the US is a founding member state of the UN. The US itself formed the Declaration of Human Rights, meant to apply to all the member of the United Nations. The United Nations claims “human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible” (OHCHR). If the US was to live up to its claim of supporting human rights, it must control them from the federal level. In fact, even on the Department of State’s website it claims, “Because the promotion of human rights is an important national interest, the United States seeks to: Hold governments accountable to their obligations under universal human rights norms and international human rights instruments… [including] the protection of minorities” (Department of State). The American government has already confirmed it stands against human rights violations. American states do not get a say in this debate. They cannot choose to discriminate against minority groups, especially involving the issues surrounding bathroom access.

Works Cited

Bevan, Thomas E. Being Transgender: What You Should Know, ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2016. ProQuest Ebook Central.

They/Them Pronouns | 中文名字: 柯梅 | Recent graduate with a Master of International Affairs | Working in civilian military, security, and intelligence analysis

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