Nonsense on Stilts, the War on Bathrooms
The State of North Carolina recently passed a law that makes it a crime for people to use a public restroom that does not match the gender listed on their birth certificate. With all of the problems confronting the nation, we do not see the cross-pollination of public facilities as a significant issue. But dont laugh. The thou shall not use certain bathrooms movement is real, with other states, municipalities and even school districts extending the prohibition to public bathrooms, lockers, changing rooms and showers.
How the law would be enforced is problematic to say the least. We treat others based in large part on their attire, appearance and conduct. Thus, if a person dresses, looks and acts like a woman we reasonably assume that she is a woman. The converse is also true.
The only way to determine if our lying eyes are deceiving us or if those who use a designated restroom were born with contrary plumbing is to check the birth certificates or genitalia of every person who visits every bathroom, restroom, changing room, locker or restroom in America. This simply is not going to happen. In fact, the mere attempt to enforce the law would create more problems than it could possibly solve.
Even if we were able to confirm birth certificates and/or body parts prior to or during pit stops, a person who looks and acts like a man would not be welcome in a female restroom or shower regardless of their original gender or current parts. The same applies to the opposite.
Nor is the law necessary. This is instead a misplaced and futile attempt to rope a horse that left the barn long ago. Members of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered community have been using the bathrooms of their choice since the dawn of man. We just didn’t know it.
And in emergency situations or to safeguard a male child, women will not hesitate to use a men’s restroom. The same applies to female sportscasters who routinely conduct interviews in male shower or locker rooms. There are also unisex bathrooms which are used by both men and women; straight and gay.
What is more, there is no evidence of a public safety crisis occurring in female public restrooms. There is no evidence that strait, gay or transgendered men are invading changing rooms for any purpose much less to sexually assault females. And there is no evidence that transgendered men pose a threat to straight or gay females either within or outside of a public facility.
By definition gay and transgendered men are not attracted to members of the opposite sex. And there is no need for heterosexual males to prowl public restrooms. With the advent of parks, stores, libraries, restaurants, concerts, bars and adult clubs, not to mention social media and the internet, we can find available women anywhere, any time.
More importantly, the mere thought of wearing women’s clothing is anathema to that which we value even more than sex, i.e., our manhood. Not for all the tea in China would we risk something so important by trolling female restrooms in drag in order to find a date.
Also relevant is cost of the anti-bathroom initiative. Multiple businesses including Target and Hilton Hotel have either cancelled or withdrawn business from North Carolina as a direct result of the law. And the University of Carolina alone risks losing $1.4 billion per year from the federal government.
What then is the real reason for the movement? Why do the very forces that supposedly abhor big government, advocate that government now dictate what bathroom we use? And why would North Carolina or any other jurisdiction hazard a federal lawsuit and the forfeiture of millions if not billions of dollars in public and private funds, just to tell us where to pee? The answer is simple.
Like the persecution of early Christians in ancient Rome, the burning of women in Salem, the Jim Crow laws of the late 19th to mid 20th century, the anti-immigration movement of the same period, the extermination of Jews in Nazi Germany or the five other mass exterminations of the 20th century alone, the anti bathroom movement is an expression of disapproval and contempt. It is the vilification and dehumanization of an already marginalized class of people, the declaration of political and social war against a small and vulnerable minority whose lifestyle and very existence some find abhorrent.
Rape and sexual assault are indeed serious public safety issues. And we should do all we can to protect the vulnerable. We also understand how and why alternative lifestyles make some of us uncomfortable.
But the war on bathrooms is not about public safety. It is instead a solution in search of a problem as there already exist a plethora of laws that prohibit and punish sexual assault. The notion that a birth certificate will make us more safe when we use the restroom is simply nonsense on stilts.
Leo Barron Hicks, Founder and CEO
Blackacre Policy Forum