There is no problem with trans people in bathrooms

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Last year, media outlets eagerly reported on an American study, announcing that allowing trans-identified people to use bathrooms doesn’t threaten, uh, people-identified people. Teen Vogue explains:

“The key finding is that ‘fears of increased safety and privacy violations as a result of nondiscrimination laws are not empirically grounded.’ Basically, the argument that transgender people pose a threat to cisgender people in bathrooms is plain old wrong.”

This breaking news should come as a surprise to no one, as no one has ever argued that “transgender people” are a threat to people in bathrooms. This might be hard to hear, but no one in any washroom cares how you identify.

This is because no one can even tell who identifies as transgender and who does not, because trans identity is only determined by thought or announcement, not appearance or biology. As per trans activism and gender identity ideology, there is no material way to determine transgenderism. As much as these various identities — whether “non-binary,” “genderqueer,” “trans,” or “centaur” — may matter deeply to the individual identifying as such, no one else cares what you are thinking or feeling when you are going to the washroom. It really isn’t as interesting as you think it is. (You all are the only ones obsessively taking selfies of yourselves in washrooms and posting them online, in order to draw attention to yourselves and your bathroom use, in any case. One would think that if you were truly just trying to pee in peace, you’d avoid advertising it to the entire internet.)

Here is the thing: most people who identify as transgender don’t actually look like the opposite sex. It is very difficult to hide sexed characteristics such as bone structure, facial features, size of limbs, things like the shape of the hips and legs, muscle mass, and so on and so forth. So, for the most part, trans-identified people are just going to be seen as their biological sex, and no one will really think twice about it. If, for whatever reason, a trans-identified person legitimately looks like the opposite sex, which is incredibly rare, no one will notice or care which bathroom you use either. That is to say, if you look male and use the male washroom, the men in there won’t notice or care. (And they are highly unlikely to care if you look like a woman and use their washroom, either. Men don’t fear women.) If you look like a woman and use the women’s washroom, no one will notice either. I really fail to see what the issue is here, unless it is that you look male, and instead of using the men’s washroom, you decide to make women uncomfortable by using theirs. And really, that’s a problem with you. Not the women you’re making uncomfortable. May I recommend just being honest with yourself and considerate of others?

If you want to talk “gender” and discrimination, I’m inclined to ask why a male is more comfortable making women and girls feel unsafe rather than making a few men take a second glance because the dude next to them at the urinal is wearing a skirt. It seems “gender” is alive and well, and entirely sexist, when we admit that what we’re all really saying here is that women and girls’ feelings, safety, and comfort don’t matter at all (and are, in fact, mean and bad), but men’s do.

Moreover, there is an easy solution, suggested many times by many people: make single-stall gender neutral washrooms, as well as men’s and women’s washrooms. Then people who claim they feel uncomfortable using the washroom corresponding with their sex can just use the gender neutral one. Problem solved.

This invented problem of “trans people in bathrooms” being somehow “prevented from peeing” doesn’t exist. Everyone is allowed to use the bathroom. Literally no one wants to stop you from peeing.

The 2018 study, published in the journal Sexuality Research and Social Policy, was motivated by North Carolina statute HB2, passed in 2016, and widely described as a “bathroom bill.” In reality, the law aimed to “limit how people pursue claims of discrimination because of race, religion, colour, national origin, biological sex or handicap in state courts.” The Charlotte Observer reports:

“The state has long had laws regulating workplace discrimination, use of public accommodations, minimum wage standards, and other business issues. The new law — known as HB2, the Charlotte bathroom bill or, more officially, as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act — makes it illegal for cities to expand upon those state laws…

… North Carolina’s new law sets a statewide definition of classes of people who are protected against discrimination: race, religion, color, national origin, age, handicap or biological sex as designated on a person’s birth certificate. Sexual orientation — people who are gay — was never explicitly protected under state law and is not now, despite recent court decisions that legalized same-sex marriage.”

The “bathroom” portion of the bill — the only portion that gained any attention — determined that trans-identified people who had not had “sex-change” surgery and taken legal steps to change the sex on their birth certificates did not have a legal right under state law to use public washrooms according to their “gender identity.” (And that cities and counties in the state may not establish a different standard.)

In other words, the “bathroom” aspect of the bill is actually perfectly reasonable and is, in fact, accommodating to trans people. (The portion of the law regarding bathroom use was repealed on March 30, 2017.)

The authors looked at Massachusetts as the state was facing a ballot measure in the 2018 elections considering the repeal of a 2016 law allowing gender identity to trump sex (Transgender Anti-Discrimination Act), and aimed to question the “empirical validity” of the claim that such laws would endanger women and girls. (The state voted to keep the law in November 2018, ensuring individuals had the right to use “bathrooms and other public facilities consistent with their gender identity.”) The researchers looked at documented complaints made to the police as well as records of crimes that took place in public bathrooms, locker rooms, and changing rooms within “a one- to two-year timespan before and after the gender identity inclusive public accommodations nondiscrimination law had gone into effect in the localities that had such an ordinance.”

They found there was no discernible difference in said crimes or complaints, as a result of the law. This, of course, is not the point. And this, of course, is the problem with focusing on bathrooms and pretending as though gender identity ideology and legislation is somehow only about “bathrooms.”

What women have said, over and over again, is that the implications of gender identity legislation and policy will nullify women’s rights in all sorts of contexts. We’re seeing men being allowed to compete against women in sports competitions, which, if this continues, will ensure women and girls cannot compete on fair ground in athletics and that, in fact, women’s sports will no longer exist. In Canada, it was recently reported the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) will no longer be recording the sex of criminals and victims, in order to abide by Bill C-16, which added “gender identity” to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code of Canada. “We will now say ‘the individual’ or ‘the accused,’ and not use gender-specific pronouns,” OPP spokesperson Sgt. Carolle Dionne said. Not only that, but Statistics Canada recently changed its approach to reporting crime statistics data, and will be recording the “gender” of criminals and victims, not the sex. This means we no longer have any accurate way of tracking male violence against women.

Beyond that, while of course there is concern about men being allowed to access women’s change rooms, it really doesn’t matter how rare violence happens in that context. The fact is that, now, due to gender identity policy and legislation, women have no recourse when it does happen. We cannot complain, as we, then, would be guilty of discrimination. And facilities, buildings, spaces, organizations, and institutions can’t do anything about it either, should a man elect to enter into a change room for women and girls. This is how gender identity ideology and legislation works, inherently.

While the authors of the 2018 study claim, “Opponents of gender identity nondiscrimination laws and policies have cited fears of attacks and privacy violations against women and children in restrooms as one of their main reasons for resistance to them,” this is simply not true. The women intentionally being silenced in the media; vilified and threatened by activists; pushed out of LGBT organizations, political parties, and jobs; losing their grants and publishing deals; and being banned from speaking online or in public are not talking about bathrooms. They are talking about sex-based rights and the widespread implications of these kinds of policies and laws.

The truth is that “gender identity” is solely about your feelings, preferences, and personality. Not your body. And there is absolutely no reason why it is necessary to allow people to access washrooms based on their personality, feelings, or clothing choices, versus their sex. The other truth is that the very tiny minority of people who identify as transgender are at no more risk in bathrooms than anyone else.

I have no idea why so many people are working so hard to pretend as though some form of discrimination is happening that is absolutely not happening, but I suppose it’s the only way PinkNews can stay in business. After a recent University of Michigan study announced, “Eight in 10 young people aged 14-24 years polled (79 per cent), say that bathroom use by transgender people should not be restricted,” PinkNews reporter Vic Parsons wrote, “This suggests that young people’s views on bathroom use by transgender individuals differ from the narratives often represented in public debates.”

It is unclear which “public debates” claim there should be restrictions on bathroom use by transgender people. Especially considering that progressives and liberal media insist there is to be no debate on the issue of gender identity at all. Indeed, most people believe wholeheartedly that everyone has the right to use the bathroom.

What there is a debate about, of course, is the question of whether or not it is possible to change sex and whether men should be permitted to access women’s spaces, such as change rooms, transition houses, shelters, prisons, sports teams, and, I suppose, bathrooms, though this has always been the least of anyone’s concern.

The University of Michigan’s Health Lab blog reported:

“The findings are in sharp contrast to a recent Gallup poll that surveyed 1,017 Americans ages 18 and over which found that about half (51 per cent) of surveyed adults think transgender individuals should use the bathroom that correlates with the gender they were assigned at birth.”

The study concluded that a majority of the 683 youth polled believe that “bathroom use is private and should be a personal decision; choosing bathrooms is a matter of equality, freedom, and human rights; transgender people are not sexual perpetrators; and; forcing transgender people to use particular bathrooms puts them at risk.”

This, again, completely misrepresents concerns about gender identity legislation as being about fear of trans-identified people, in general. A fear that does not exist. It is not true that people believe trans-identified people, as a whole, are more likely to be sexual predators. The concern for women in particular has nothing to do with trans-identity, but about sex — that is to say, males.

It doesn’t matter to anyone whether males identify as transgender. It only matters that they are male. This is a false debate, a fake problem, and a ridiculously dishonest way to frame women’s concerns about gender identity policy and legislation.

The activists, academics, and media outlets who push this narrative consistently ignore women’s actual concerns and words, opting instead to vilify them as “transphobes.” The fact that women (and other concerned members of the public) have articulated very clearly, many times over, what their concerns are, yet are still ignored and misrepresented, only tells me that trans activism has no answer for them. There is simply no rational, ethical way to say, “No, we don’t believe females should have boundaries or protections.” So, instead, they rail on about bathrooms, as if they aren’t the only ones endlessly talking about this imaginary problem.

On Monday, The Guardian published a piece by LeahAnn Mitchell, titled, “I was harassed at an In-N-Out bathroom for being a black trans woman.” In the first two paragraphs, Mitchell reveals that the headline is inaccurate, writing that, while in the women’s washroom at the fast food restaurant, he heard the manager ask, “Is there a man in the bathroom?

This is a perfectly reasonable and, moreover, responsible question for a restaurant manager to ask of a male who is in the women’s washroom. There is absolutely no reason this woman could have possibly known the ins and outs (ha!) of Mitchell’s mind and relationship to his body or the gender stereotypes associated with his body.

Mitchell denied he was a man, and the manager clearly didn’t believe him, so came up to the stall to investigate. She then left, without incident. Mitchell confronted her anyway, despite the fact he had peed freely, as it were, and the manager told him, presumably because she was trying to work, “I don’t have time for this.”

PinkNews called this “abuse.” That’s right. A female manager daring to question a male for entering a women’s washroom is, today, guilty of “abuse.”

Not only was Mitchell not “abused,” but he was not questioned because he was either black or trans. He was questioned because he was male.

“Discriminating against a person simply because you don’t like who they are should be against the law,” Mitchell writes. “No one is asking for special accommodations.”

First, Mitchell was not discriminated against. Second, the question the manager asked had nothing to do with whether or not she “liked” this stranger in the washroom. Third, people are indeed asking for special accommodations. Males are asking the world around them to pretend as though they are female, and for women to give up their sex-based rights and protections (as well as their comfort and safety) in order to accommodate a few males who have plenty of places to pee.

Mitchell says he filed a discrimination complaint against In-N-Out. Similar, but less egregious to the discrimination complaints filed by one Jessica (nee Jonathan) Yaniv, who dragged 16 women to the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal for declining to wax his scrotum.

You see? The problem is really not about bathrooms. It is about this modern ideology ensuring that women do not have the right to say “no” to men, and ensuring that if they do say “no,” they will be accused of abuse, harassment, and discrimination.

“Bathrooms” are not the problem — the problem is legislating away sex in favour of feelings. And the inevitable result is that people like Yaniv, who is an alleged predator, which has absolutely nothing to do with his “trans identity,” can reframe women’s boundaries and rights as discrimination.

If your activist work consists of fighting for men’s right to force women to handle their genitalia, keep up the fight, I suppose. Just don’t lie about it.

Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist from Vancouver, BC. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including The Spectator, UnHerd, Quillette, the CBC, New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and is now exiled in Mexico with her very photogenic dog.