Bathroom battlegrounds: Debunking Trans Myths
How to fight misconceptions and ignorance that cause real harm to real people.
Since President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have taken office, it hasn’t been very easy for LGBTQ+ Americans, especially transgender individuals. The Trump administration hasn’t tried to hide their extremely anti-LGBTQ+ policies; notable efforts include Trump’s failed transgender military ban and Secretary of Education Betsy Devos declining to follow through and rescinding Obama-era rights for transgender students.
The fight for equal rights for the “T” in LGBTQ+ is lacking, but what has been the driving cause in not allowing transgender people use the restroom; it’s misinformation. One of the biggest issues facing the transgender community today is lack of understanding. There’s all this attention on transgender people right now, and people are focusing on all of their own fear and confusion.
Common stereotypes held against trans people that drive the legal action that prevents them from using the bathroom include: transgender people will harass, stalk, be violent towards people in bathrooms.
Those behaviors are, and will continue to be, illegal anywhere and for everyone. Trans women of color, are significantly more likely to be the victims of harassment or physical assault for simply using a bathroom. Often times many people think that they don’t know or have never met any transgender people. It’s most likely that if you have ever used a public bathroom, you’ve shared it with a transgender person at some point.
A recent example would be when Republican congressional candidate, Jazmina Saavedra, an avid Trump supporter, filmed herself chasing a transgender woman out of a stall in the ladies’ restroom at a Denny’s in Los Angeles earlier this month. The Facebook Live video depicts Saavedra heading to the women’s restroom, yelling and misgendering the woman, calling her a man, and telling her that she is invading her privacy. This all happens while the woman is already in a stall using the bathroom. Saavedra claims that her rights are being violated, while she harasses someone who was just sitting in a bathroom stall. To add to the hypocrisy, in the video there is already a male Denny’s employee in the bathroom, but Saavedra has no problem with him being in there.
Allowing transgender people to use their bathroom of choice will result in a spike in pedophilia (feeding into the stereotype that all trans ((and all queer)) people are sexual predators)
Conservatives have been fanning these flames over bathrooms for years as a legitimate reason to not allow people equal access to restrooms. The same arguments for public safety were used during segregation when people of color weren’t allowed to use restroom marked “Whites only.” Factless information based off of uneducated claims regarding LGBTQ+ issues, where commonly tying in religion is often the main reason for these oppositions. Non-discrimination protection laws are instituted to ensure that transgender people can live, work and participate in public life according to their identities. The Equality Act of 2010 states that gender identity is one of nine “protected characteristics”— including race, religion and sexual orientation— that is illegal to discriminate against, either directly or indirectly.
Despite all of this, some communities have seen victory. On May 22nd, a federal judge in Virginia ruled in favor of Gavin Grimm, a male transgender student who had been suing his school district for the right to use the bathroom that matched his gender identity. Since access to bathrooms has been the battleground of transgender civil right, Mr. Grimm’s case has been an important step that has been in the works since 2014. Gavin is no longer a student at the school, but has stated:
“I hope that this will set a positive legal precedent that will aid other trans students in guiding their schools to better support them.”
Inclusive bathrooms laws have been passed in major cities, like Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. Transgender activists continue to educate and fight unfair and discriminatory, in hopes to create further change locally and across the nation.