As the now ubiquitous meme regarding the new transgender bathroom bills controversy states: it is no more about the bathroom than Jim Crow was about drinking fountains. the new crop of transgender bathroom bills brings to the fore a new iteration of an old argument: When you are afraid of something, make them out to be predators.
Let us start with a brief statement about who trans people actually are. Trans people are someone who was born with a gonadal sex that does not match how they feel internally. Their gender does not match their sex. For many people, their gonadal sex matches up very nicely with their preferred gender and gender expression and this isn’t a problem for them. these people are called cisgender.
The transgender community has faced more than their fair share of discrimination and violence including at the hands of the LGB community. For many years there was a debate about why trans people were included in LGBT. The arguments against were often laced with the same ignorance and bigotry we now see playing out in State Legislatures across the country and in many an internet meme or blog post.
Even under the best of circumstances, coming out as trans and becoming trans is costly, dangerous and difficult. Surgical and medical costs for hormones (should the person choose to take them) go through the roof. There is often pain involved in binding parts of the body such as breasts down to make them appear flatter and to more closely resemble the preferred gender on the outside. These costs are such that many trans people are forced to sell their bodies for sex in order to scrape by, which in turn opens them up to more violence from Johns. While some do avoid this, they still face intense discrimination and must deal with the confusion and hatred of others. Not to mention a trans person must retain a medical diagnosis of Gender Identity Disorder in order to begin this transition. And did I mention none of this is covered by insurance?
Now that we have a basic idea of the struggles and discrimination trans people face, let’s look at the pernicious history of labelling people as “violent” in order to isolate them and alienate them out of society’s fear. This alienation can be seen in nearly every group: Christians being told that Jews would kidnap their babies, White people being told that black people (often men) are violent and more aggressive (hence the comparison to apes), and gay men being labelled as predators and used to spread hate and fear in society ( as well as to attack teachers and refuse to allow the to join Boy Scouts). And now, trans people are going to attack your children in the bathroom stalls.
None of these tropes are true. Yeah sure there are going to be one off cases where it is true for most if not all of these examples. But just because one person did something doesn’t mean you sound the alarm. People die each year from being crushed by vending machines and those are still in schools.
Let’s take a quick look at the stats on crime against the trans community per the Office of Victims of Crime, a government source. 12% of trans students in grade K-12 report being sexually assaulted by peers or staff. 13% of African American trans people were sexually assaulted in the workplace. 22% of homeless trans people were assaulted while trying to find safety in a shelter. 15% report being assaulted in police custody or jail, this statistic doubles for African American trans people in prison. 50% of all deaths that were attributed to anti-LGBT hate crimes were trans women (the other half were gender nonconforming males). These crimes were often accompanied by mutilation or sexual assault. 17% of all reported hate crimes against the LGBT community involved the trans community, 11% of which were trans women. 53% of these crimes were against people of color and a shocking 79% of hate crime murders also were also committed against trans black people.
So now that we see the tremendous amounts of crime perpetrated against a community, it begs the question: why would they assault someone in the bathroom? After all these people went through to transition and the violence they face, what cause for concern is there that this constantly harassed person will suddenly gain the confidence and want to attack others? If they fear for their own safety why would they act in any way as to cause confrontation?
Who does commit these crimes? Predominantly heterosexual married men. Nearly 90% of child molester are men married to women that molest children in their own network of friends. So clearly trans people are not the targets you should be worried about. It more likely someone in your family will commit these heinous crimes than a transperson trying to pee. Unless your Catholic, then you might also want to worry about the priest.
But for the love of all that is holy, the trans person in your restroom honestly just wants to pee without getting assaulted. They don’t want to assault anyone. So maybe quit the fear mongering and come to terms with this: you’ve already used the restroom with a trans person and you never even knew it!