States like North Carolina have been making waves over the past few weeks with different pieces of legislation that are inherently discriminatory in nature – many of them focus on discriminating against LGBTQ folks in the name of religious freedom and public safety. The North Carolina bill comes as a response to the Charlotte City Council’s recently expanded ordinance that would allow for trans people of the city to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity. The bill does a whole lot more though – as Camila Domonoske explains:
The new [state] law establishes a statewide nondiscrimination ordinance that explicitly supersedes any local nondiscrimination measures. The statewide protections cover race, religion, color, national origin and biological sex — but not sexual orientation or gender identity.
The bill does so much more as well. Among other things, it essentially supersedes literally any local government ordinance – from non-discrimination policies to minimum wage increases. So not only does this impact LGBTQ folks in the state but also makes any sort of citywide minimum wage increase nearly impossible and thus impacts low income and working class folks as well.
This bill and many others have been disguised as religious freedom and a public safety matter – some say that there will be people abusing the non-discrimination policies and will purposely go in the wrong bathroom or locker room to spy and creep on others (a myth that has in fact been debunked). As Justin Adkins wrote a couple weeks ago: “The North Carolina law is mostly aimed at trans women. It is rooted in the fear that trans women exist.” As a society, we have conflated being a trans woman with being a sexual predator or worse and we’ve been terrified of the boogeyman we created. But the fact is that trans women are overwhelmingly not sexual predators and that myth, along with trans panic, does nothing other than making public spaces inherently dangerous for trans women.
Bathrooms have been a huge part of this conversation – in a statement about the bill, North Carolina’s governor focused in on that same provision in Charlotte’s ordinance that would have allowed trans people to use the bathrooms that correspond with their gender. Opponents of that expanded ordinance have been invoking a bathroom panic and wrongly conflating trans people with sexual predators. North Carolina isn’t the only place where this same conversation is happening – cities like Houston and Seattle have also had legislation that would prevent trans people from using the right bathroom and instead force them to use the ones that correspond with their assigned sex at birth.
This has been both incredibly frustrating and frightening to read about over the past couple weeks because I know how dangerous these bills are. By forcing people to use the bathroom of their assigned sex at birth, you put trans people in danger of outing themselves to violent bigots. The flip side is that you still put them in danger of health issues because people might start avoiding using any sort of public bathroom – which could lead to UTIs and other issues if they can’t go for extended periods of time. Bathrooms need to be safe for people of all genders.
— Carlos Maza (@gaywonk) October 15, 2015
At the end of the day, we all poop and pee and by having legislation that prevents people from using one bathroom or the next will only stop some people from doing what’s natural in public restrooms. This type of legislation won’t stop creepy people from crossing a line in public restrooms but will only prevent trans and gender nonconforming people from feeling safe. The reality of this issue is that people abusing the non-discrimination bathroom policy has nothing to do with trans people but has everything to do with their own sick and perverted notions. These laws won’t stop people from being creepy and perverted but instead blames an already marginalized group of people.
Kat Blaque has an amazing piece about defecating while trans that does a better job of saying what I’ve been trying to and touches upon the fact that the fear of sexual predators should not be reflected onto trans women but instead the cis men who would be abusing these laws. Blaque finished by saying:
At the end of the day, we all defecate and urinate. It’s natural and it helps our bodies stay healthy and clean. Unfortunately, for trans people, the natural task of relieving themselves is political and honestly, it shouldn’t be. YouTube Space LA has a bathroom that is unisex with wall to wall stalls. It cuts down on building cost and allows everyone to use the restroom regardless of their gender, but if that makes you feel uncomfortable, there’s a separate personal restroom. Is it weird at first? Sure, but I think it’s the future. A future that will take adjusting, but one that is more inclusive and less erasing.
And I wholeheartedly agree. Gender neutral bathrooms are ones of the future (but hopefully not too far far) and yes, it’ll be awkward for some to make that transition. But we would be better for it.