Although many Americans may know about the current battle on bathroom accessibility, a large majority seem to turn a blind eye to those being barred from their respective restroom. The truth is, the so-called “bathroom bills” target the already vulnerable minority: transgender people.
Many attribute this to Americans not understanding what it means to be transgender. Courtesy of GLAAD, a nongovernmental organization formerly known as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, transgender is an umbrella adjective for those who identify as a gender, such as male or female, that deviates from their biological sex. For example, an individual born with a penis (typically designated as a male sex organ) whose gender identity is female is considered a trans woman, falling under the trans umbrella. The reverse applies to trans men; people born with a vagina who identify and/or express themselves as male. Also fitting under the trans umbrella are nonbinary people, who do not identify with either gender, causing an inevitable conflict with their biological sex.
The vast majority of Americans fall under the term cisgender, meaning non-transgender. They do not, therefore, have to care about these issues, allowing them to enforce the gross alienation of transgender people. Misconceptions such as labeling trans people as perverts or delusional still exist and are widely believed, despite the American Psychiatric Association insisting that “gender nonconformity is not in itself a mental disorder”. The APA goes on to clarify that it is the extreme distress of trans people at not being seen by others as the gender they identify as that is harmful.
Since it has been confirmed that it isn’t the trans people themselves who are harmful, why do Americans still fear sharing bathrooms with people who genuinely belong there?
The fear of sexual predators pretending to be transgender could be a valid point, although The Advocate, Louisiana’s leading news source, notes that “there has never been a verifiable reported instance of a trans person harassing a cisgender person, nor have there been any confirmed reports of male predators ‘pretending’ to be transgender to gain access to women’s spaces and commit crimes against them”. There doesn’t seem to be any evidence supporting these fears against transgender people sharing bathrooms.
If anything, trans people are confirmed to have been attacked much more often than cisgender people, according to Jody Herman, a public policy scholar at University of California, Los Angeles School of Law’s Williams Institute. Her survey of 83 transgender people in Washington D.C. has offered conclusive data that it is trans people who are at risk in bathrooms: “about 70 percent of the sample reported experiencing being denied access to restrooms, being harassed while using restrooms and even experiencing some forms of physical assault”.
There is no reason to attack and hurt trans people and restrict their rights and gender expression simply because of false rumors and misconceptions spread. This hurts those who already are hurt by the people close to them. The vulnerable are attacked, and, for lack of better words, bullied and insulted. Being able to use the bathroom is a basic civil right and it’s ridiculous that this has to be fought for.
The only way to make America a country that actually allows freedom is to let LGBT people have the same quality of life as the majority. Integrated restrooms are the first step to equality, and by separating transgender people from cisgender people, we only get further and further from our goal.
It’s the land of the free, so let people pee.