Bathroom laws are sexist

Jess Makela

In recent months, a rising number of government officials have been addressing the issue of which public restrooms transgender individuals should be permitted access. Before anti-LGBTQ legislation gained mass media coverage, transgender citizens had been using whatever public facilities they deemed fit for decades, so varying state governments’ latest interest is puzzling.

The debate has become a public concern, and the civil rights of transgender individuals are in question. The simple right to choose what gender a person sexually identifies with is not constitutionally protected but it should be. Legislation that aims to regulate access to public facilities, including restrooms, for transgender individuals because of their gender identity or their sex assigned at birth, is colloquially referred to as a “bathroom bill.”

These bills are being introduced with more frequency across the nation. Many states see these bills die in committee, while others pass and are then revised or vetoed. In March, North Carolina passed a bill forcing transgender students to utilize restrooms and locker rooms that match their sex given at birth.

The bill overturned an anti-LGBTQ discrimination ordinance the state had put in place earlier. In February, the Michigan Board of Education distributed a memo noting the ways LGBTQ students could be better served by their school districts. At the end of May, Senator Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba) introduced a bill that states school districts will need to make other accommodations for students if their parents write a note confirming that their child identifies as a different gender than his or her biological sex.

Unisex, single or staff bathrooms are an option while restroom, locker room and shower room use is out of the question. Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) said the legislation would do nothing but make the problems LGBTQ students face worse, putting them directly in harm’s way.

“LGBTQ students are subject to pervasive harassment and discrimination, which negatively impacts their health, well-being and academic achievement,” said Warren in a press release. “They are 41 percent more likely to report being bullied than their non-LGBTQ peers and are 4.5 times more likely to attempt suicide.”

There are some concerns regarding the safety of all citizens that lawmakers are throwing at the public. Women and children anticipate that male predators will abuse the laws. However, there have been zero occasions that support these claims. There is also fear that transgender individuals will assault them in public restrooms. Again, there are zero instances, thus confuting those worries. Hatred and anger toward transgender individuals are born out of ignorance, fear and lack of familiarity.

In reality, it seems that transgender individuals are the ones the public needs to worry about keeping safe. Being transgender has little to do with sex and more to do with identity. Identity is a sensitive issue for every young person, transgender or not.

The development of self is stressful and the addition of laws regulating public restrooms and locker rooms only adds to the complexity of youth. If schools encounter issues, then the schools should deal with them accordingly. The inclusion of the government in this debate has only hindered the forward progress needed to finally make the United States a land of acceptance, granting all citizens their due civil rights and continued pursuit
of happiness.