On the Trans Bathroom Debate

Photo by Tim Mossholder from Pexels

Despite studies showing that assaults in gendered spaces like bathrooms and locker rooms have not increased in areas that have passed trans-inclusive bathroom ordinances, our community still faces bathroom discrimination.

An Oregon trans woman was beaten, causing facial fractures that required surgery, by a cis man for attempting to use the women’s restroom. A North Corolina trans woman was sexually assaulted by two cisgender women in the bathroom of a bar. A trans woman in DC was assaulted by a security guard for attempting to use the restroom.

And it’s not just adults. These prejudices our society has towards transgender people extends to children as well.

A trans teenager in West Virginia was blocked from exiting the bathroom by his assistant principal, who insisted that he use the urinal in front of him so he could prove that he belonged in the boy’s room. A trans teen in Minnesota had school staff break into the bathroom cubicle she was using in order to force her out of the girl’s bathroom.

A study by the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics revealed that 25.9% of transgender teens experienced sexual assault within the past 12 months, and of trans teens specifically experiencing bathroom and locker room restrictions, 36% experienced sexual assault in the same time frame.

So cisgender school staff can break into bathroom cubicles children are using and demand to watch them pee in front of them, and yet we’re the perverts!? I really don’t understand this mentality.

People will claim that this skepticism of people using the bathroom is justified to keep men from pretending to be trans in order to enter the women’s bathroom to prey on women, except that we’re not actually seeing that happen. This is the same fear-mongering argument used historically to keep gays out of bathrooms for fear that they might prey on young boys. And even before that, this same tactic was used to keep People of Color out of white bathrooms.

This bathroom debate isn’t anything new for minority groups in general, and it’s not rooted in reality. The fact is, it’s trans people who are most likely to get assaulted in bathrooms. Don’t vilify the victims, it’s just going to put you on the wrong side of history.

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