Close your eyes and think back for a minute. When was the last time you used a public restroom? How many other people were in the restroom? What did their genitals look like?
I’m certain you can’t answer that last question and that you’re horrified by it. (As you should be!) But Laurie Higgins of the Illinois Family Institute seems to think of public restrooms and changing facilities as much more communal than they actually are. And she’s using this non-logic to defame transgender children.
In a school district in Chicago, a high school trans girl has sued her school for the right to use the women’s locker room. Superintendent Daniel Cates is refusing to abide by Title IX guidelines on this matter, instead offering the girl a separate private facility to use as an alternative. Put another way, Cates will go so far as to disqualify his district from getting federal funding in order to break the law and continue demeaning the trans girl:
“After serious and lengthy consideration, the District will continue to provide private accommodations for transgender students to ensure a respectful school environment, and will not allow unrestricted access to its locker rooms as directed by OCR,” Cates writes. “Likely litigation and enforcement action, including the potential loss of federal education funds, may be imposed by the OCR.”
Federal officials reportedly ruled on the student’s complaint — which was filed with the U.S. Department of Education — finding that the school was in direct violation of the Title IX gender equality law.
As a result of this case making headlines, Higgins is up in arms about “the Left” and our need for “political correctness” (or, as we like to think of it, basic human rights). In a piece lambasting trans-inclusive bathrooms and locker rooms, she runs through the usual transphobic conservative talking points: misgendering the girl, denying the existence of transgender identity, and suggesting that trans people are inherently predatory.
But then she challenges “those who support ‘transgender’ bathroom and locker room policies” to answer three questions.
So, I gave it a shot. I don’t want to say that Higgins can’t handle the truth, but the answers aren’t pretty.
The tl;dr version is that anyone who wants to be creepy in a bathroom or locker room can do so at any time. Trans-inclusive policies make it safer for trans children and adults to use restrooms. Creepy adult men who seek to commit crimes have nothing to do with these laws. This isn’t about them. This doesn’t legalize their actions.
If gender-confused teens should not have to use restrooms and locker rooms with those whose “gender identity” they don’t share, then why should other teens have to use restrooms and locker rooms with those whose objective biological sex they don’t share?
Honestly, there’s no real reason to segregate by birth sex. Sorting people by the appearance of their genitals does nothing to guarantee safety, privacy, or comfort for any person of any identity, and it should not be our chosen method of preventing unwanted advances.
Lesbians use the same bathrooms as straight women every day without being creepy. Ditto gay men and straight men. Or people in small restaurants, or in those family restrooms at the mall. Being a creep in the bathroom is illegal no matter what your genitals look like. I don’t want anyone looking at me through the crack in the stall door or making comments in the locker room, whether they have a penis or a vagina — and sexual harassment is against the law either way.
Conservatives like Higgins are equating trans-inclusive bathroom policies with legalizing sexual assault. Not only is this a stupendous logical fallacy, but it’s also horrifically offensive. In fact, there have been no documented cases of transgender people assaulting cisgender people in bathrooms, with or without these policies. None.
If there are two distinct phenomenon, biological sex (constituted by objective DNA/anatomy) and “gender identity” (constituted by subjective feelings), why should locker rooms and restrooms be separated according to “gender identity” rather than objective biological sex? What justification is there for subordinating objective biological sex to “gender identity”?
Again, sex-segregated or gender-segregated facilities in general are pretty arbitrary. What we should be asking is why any minors of any gender would be asked to change clothes or use the restrooms in anything other than private stalls. Last month I interviewed the mother of a trans child who said her daughter’s elementary school bathrooms don’t have doors on the stalls. Isn’t that a far more severe violation of privacy? If your child is peeing in a closed, locked stall, on the other hand, how do you even know what the genitals of the other people in the bathroom look like?
If anything, trans students are the ones whose rights to privacy are being violated. A cisgender student wouldn’t be expected to disclose the appearance of their genitals to their school principal; trans students, on the other hand, have to out themselves, subject themselves to bullying and harassment, and then have strangers deliberate on how their genitals will affect their ability to behave in a restroom.
Supporters of “transgender” school policies argue that they’re needed in order to be “inclusive” of gender-confused students. To be intellectually consistent then, wouldn’t supporters of the policy have to agree that those who are not comfortable sharing a bathroom or locker room with someone of the opposite sex because of their beliefs about sexual differentiation, modesty, and privacy would be “excluded” if the school refuses to honor their beliefs, feelings, values, and identity — which, by the way, has a basis in objective reality?
If someone is uncomfortable with a bathroom situation, they are welcome to leave and use a private facility. If the person making them uncomfortable is behaving appropriately — i.e. using the facility for the same reason a cisgender person would use it — then it’s discriminatory to single out a trans person just because you think they’re icky. Suggesting the reverse is tantamount to asking gay customers to leave your restaurant because another patron is uncomfortable with their presence (oh, wait). Your personal bigotry doesn’t legalize unequal treatment. And there is literally no reason to keep trans people out of bathrooms that doesn’t trace back to conservative transphobia.
I hate having to be so frank about issues as serious as harassment and assault. But if conservatives like Higgins continue to make allegations of trans people as sexual predators, then clearly the other points we’ve made — like basic human decency and equal protection under the law — aren’t getting through.
(Image via Shutterstock)