Social & Political Final paper
15 May 2017
Why There Shouldn’t Be a Line for Transgender Acceptance Drawn at the Bathroom Door.
The HB2 (House Bill 2) law that has come into affect for North Carolina has caused much uproar. This law “prevents transgender people from using government-run bathrooms corresponding to the gender with which they identify” (Gordon, 2016). The following will be an explanation as to why this law should have never come about in the first place and why something as simple and relieving one’s bladder should not be illegal, let alone an issue.
The initial issue addresses different avenues where this law ignores the humanitarian aspect of those who it affects. The first is the very wording. To state “transgender people” is to alienate them to a separate category all together. Ideas and language are reciprocally determinant. The way one thinks can affect how they speak and by merely changing one’s speech will affect how they think. To merely say “transgender” as if one were to speak of “males” or “females”, address them the same as any other gender. Similarly, saying “male nurse” instead of “nurse” infers that there is something different about the nurse that must be brought to attention by adding “male”. The next issue under this umbrella is a lack of empathy. The law does not state that these individuals may not, at all, use the restroom in these government-run bathrooms, but that they may not use the one with which their gender identifies as. Have they considered the attempts of avoiding the bathroom with which their gender associates but with which their biology associates? Ivan Coyote, a guest on a Ted talk speaks of this. Where he attempted to enter the female bathroom to only get hit by a purse, dragged out with pants around his ankles, or even denied access, for merely trying to use the restroom. So legally they may be able to, but socially they are not. Is one to tell them they just shouldn’t use the restroom outside of their home? That’s a true instance of dehumanization to think that’s a reasonable request. A good scenario to consider is with an average family. The family is heading to the beach and they are eating Ritz crackers and drinking Capri-suns in the car. The 5-year-old daughter says she has to go potty really bad because she has had two Capri-suns. So the parent tells her to do her best to hold it because the next turn-off isn’t for another 20 minutes, but they are doing their best to drive quickly. The parent finally arrives at the turn-off to see one gas station in which they rush their daughter inside. The only two restrooms are a female one that is out of order and a male restroom. What would you do if you were the parent and the store clerk completely denied access for your daughter to use the male restroom just because she was not a male? To transgenders, the issue is just the same. They are no different in the sense that they need a place to urinate and do their business as well as any other human.
The next point to be made comes from a statement released by the Association of American Physicians stating the following: “Attempts by activist groups to force business or government facilities to harm, threaten demand, or offend women and girls who do not want to share facilities with biological males are to be resisted and condemned as immoral, irrational, oppressive, and contrary to public order, human rights, public health, and our founding principles” (Vliet, 2016). Yet somehow denying someone the use of a bathroom doesn’t fall under any of these. To begin with, many are not accepting of this because they are not yet accepting of the transgender idea, so they would deem an action like this to be offensive. The sight may cause a bit of a surprise to those not use to the idea, but integration takes time and can only happen through implementation. The idea is still new to some but is a positive step forward. The next issue that can come about from this quote is the invasion of privacy that a female or male may experience if someone of the opposite biological sex were to come in. There are stalls in the restroom. Women would be generally uncomfortable if they saw another woman doing their business, let alone a male. So there are stalls in place to keep privacy. Let us approach a scenario on a female’s behalf, since females show the highest concern with the issue. If a female were to go in the restroom like usual, go into the stall, do her business, wash her hands, dry her hands, and walk out, the majority of the sensitive things the female would be partaking in are within the stall. No privacy is being invaded more than normal. Same process would happen if a transgender were to use the restroom.
A popular argument to follow this is that allowing transgenders in the restrooms of their choosing, regardless of their biological makeup, may increase sexual assaults (mostly focused on biological males entering female restrooms). This may raise an eyebrow and some curiosity, but if that is to be an argument, I am interested to see statistics rather than an argument from fear motivated by stubborn unwillingness. It is emphasized in an ABC news report published April 22, 2016, that there are “over 200 notional, state, and local organizations across the U.S that work with sexual assault and domestic violence survivors [who] are objecting to the justifications given by lawmakers” (ABC News). The article goes one to say that, in reference to organizations above, “none of those jurisdictions have seen a rise in sexual violence or other public safety issues due to nondiscrimination laws” (ABC News). This argument from fear also implies that those who identify as transgender are potentially dangerous and allowing them to use the restroom of their gender choice will lead to assaults. There is no evidence to back this up and, again, talks about those identifying with transgender as if they are a different breed of human out to do terrible things. If sexual assault were to happen, unfortunately, it will happen regardless of a gender sign on the bathroom door. It does not prevent a pervert with terrible motives, it only prevents the innocent from being able to do something as simple as use the bathroom.
Accepting transgenders in a small step such as bathroom use will smoothen the integration of the idea in society. This, which is an argument for another paper but notable here, is a positive step for society in that it blends the strong binary line between men and woman along with their gender stereotypes. Lightening the dark line between the two genders will lessen the gender role association and will open up opportunities for both genders. Opportunities such women able to pursue fields due to capabilities, instead of being non-considerable due to gender. Same for men. It will allow them to be more openly expressive in their choosing and not worry about being deemed any less of a man. Understanding that those identifying as transgender are the same humans as those identifying as a male or female. Therefore, they should not be treated any less or withheld any rights, such as restroom use in the way they need.
Elizabeth Lee Vliet, M.D. “Doc: ‘Gender neutral’ bathrooms are dangerous.” WND. N.p., 04 Dec. 2016. Web. 14 May. 2017.
Michel Gordon, Mark S. Price and Katie Peralta. “Understanding HB2: North Carolina’s newest law solidifies state’s role in defining discrimination.” Charlotteobserver. N.p., n.d. 26 March. 2016. Web. 14 May. 2017.