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Transition Within the Stalls

Dustin Cookson, Sports Editor

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The transgender bathroom dilemma has been heavily debated throughout 2016, coming to light when North Carolina passed House Bill 2 (HB2), a bill that restricts transgender individuals from using the bathroom of their choice. This prohibition is unconstitutional. It’s impossible to enforce, could ignite one’s gender dysphoria, and does not even prevent any harm to cisgender* people. All this bill is good for is harming transgender people.

The movement regarding trans people and bathrooms initiated around 2009, when people advocated for gender neutral bathrooms in public places. It continued to grow and gain more attention throughout 2012-13, when 150 universities and many high schools input these bathrooms, and some cities required gender neutral signs on single restrooms. However, in late 2014 and early 2015, Texas and several other states passed “bathroom surveillance” bills that only allowed transgender individuals to use bathrooms matching their legal sex and not the gender with which they identify.

A new law in Charlotte, NC in February of 2016 allowed trans people to use the bathroom they choose, though in the following month, North Carolina began discussing the HB2, which requires them to only use bathrooms matching the sex they were assigned at birth. The HB2 appears to be what initially triggered the most recent uproar among the LGBT community and debate regarding this issue. After it passed, the Obama Administration threatened to cut $4.8 billion in federal taxpayers’ money from North Carolina if it was not repealed by May 9th. It was not repealed, leading the Justice Department to sue the state. Governor McCrory believed that the administration’s threat was unconstitutional, and they sued the Justice Department in turn.

The affirmative side of the debate believes that not allowing transgender individuals to use the bathrooms they please is a violation of Title XI, which states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Meanwhile, the opposing side interprets this as not including transgender people. But if this title states that one cannot be debarred from doing anything because of their sex, then why should the sex of a trans person forbid them from using the bathroom they choose?

Many people also believe that cisgender men will pose as trans women for access to women’s bathrooms if this law is not in place. However, Human Rights Campaign attorney Cathryn Oakley says, “If you are a man who dresses as a woman and goes into a bathroom and commits a crime, whether you have a non-discrimination protection on the basis of gender identity or not, that behavior is illegal and criminal and you could be arrested and go to jail.” In other words, not having the bathroom law in place does not make crimes any less illegal.

It is also a common belief that transgender women should not be allowed in bathrooms with cisgender girls if they still have male genitalia but, according to Identities Mic, there are zero reported cases of transgender people attacking anyone in bathrooms. In fact, the danger regarding bathroom use for transgender people is worse. According to the USTS, U.S. Transgender Survey, of 27,715 adults in 2015, “31% have avoided drinking or eating so that they did not need to use the restroom in the last year,” “12% report that they have been harassed, attacked, or sexually assaulted in a bathroom in the last year,” and “8% report having a kidney or urinary tract infection, or other kidney-related medical issues, from avoiding restrooms in the last year.” Transgender people who don’t avoid using the bathroom, however, may start; it is uncomfortable to use the bathroom that matches their birth sex over the one that matches their gender identity. I can definitely vouch for that. This is due to gender dysphoria, which is the distress, unease, and/or anxiety caused by one’s “emotional and psychological identity as male or female [being] opposite to one’s biological sex,” according to Oxford Dictionary. This is common among the transgender population; therefore, laws like these could not only affect their physical health, but their mental health as well.

The biggest flaw in this bill is that there is no legal way to enforce it, so in what way does it prevent “attacks”? What is preventing transgender people from using the bathroom they want, anyway? IDs and birth certificates cannot be checked in order to allow entry and they definitely can’t check in everyone’s pants. I can’t speak for everyone on this one, but if I was in an area in which this law was in place, there is nothing that could make me use a female restroom. I would still use the male restroom, because what’s stopping me? As you can see, this bill appears to be quite counterproductive.

Perhaps you may be thinking, it’s just a bathroom, and you said it can’t be enforced anyway, so what’s the big deal? The issue people have with this bill lies more so in the fact that denying transgender individuals the right to use their preferred bathroom infringes upon basic human rights and enables discrimination across America. Personally, I find it degrading and offensive. Having a rule such as this in place is implying that pre-op** trans men aren’t “man enough” to use male restrooms, and that pre-op trans women aren’t “woman enough” to use female restrooms. They’d have to get surgery just to use their correct bathroom. I am unsure why you would attempt to take a right away from someone based solely on what genitalia they possess. With discrimination coming to the forefront of American politics, it’s far past time to realize that it has no place in our country.

*cisgender: an individual who identifies with the gender that correlates with their sex assigned at birth
**pre-op: a transgender individual who has not undergone sex reassignment surgery

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The Official Website Of The Journalism Team At Marco Island Academy
Transition Within the Stalls