Which of these people should use the women's restroom?
My hometown just passed an ordinance requiring people to use the restroom that matches the sex listed on their birth certificate, similar to the law recently passed in North Carolina, and I can't express how disappointed I am with the city council.
Some people are prejudiced against transgendered people, either out of ignorance or intolerance. There's nothing I can do to reach the latter group, and I can only encourage the former group to educate yourselves about the issue.
But let's set that aside and talk about the logistical realities of these laws.
Which of the individuals in this photo should use the mens' restroom, and which should use the women's restroom? On the left is a transgender girl, born male. On the right is model Aydian Dowling, a transgender male (born female) who has appeared on a cover of Men's Health
magazine. These laws would require the man in the photo below to use the women's restroom, and the girl in the photo to use the mens' restroom.
But unless everyone is required to show their birth certificate before entering the restroom, few people would think to call the police on Mr. Dowling if he walked into the mens' restroom, or on the girl in the photo if she walked into the women's restroom.
But a tomboyish woman with short hair and wearing a t-shirt and jeans might have the police called on her, and a long-haired teen boy might be accused of being female and barred from entering the men's room. And neither of these people would be able to prove their birth gender because people don't carry around their birth certificates -- which they shouldn't, because it's all an identity thief would need to open a bank account or take out a loan in your name.
In fact, this already happens. A video posted to YouTube in April shows a young woman being accosted by police simply because she didn't look feminine enough for the women's restroom. https://youtu.be/hVuHAS2CtUM
Supporters of the laws claim they're to protect people. But who are they actually protecting? Transgenderism is not new, and transgendered people have been using public restrooms corresponding with the gender they identify with for pretty much all of history. The first phalloplasty (the surgical construction of a penis) performed on a transgender male occurred in 1915, though the emperor Elagabalus, who ruled the Roman Empire from 218 to 222, reportedly offered vast sums of money to any physician who could equip him with female genitalia. And yet the sexual assaults that these laws purport to prevent don't happen. These laws wouldn't do anything to protect non-transgendered people simply because there's nothing to protect them from.
What these laws will
do, however, is to put transgendered people at risk. If the girl in the photo below were your daughter, would you feel comfortable sending her into the mens' restroom? If you're a woman, would you feel comfortable with the man in the photo walking into the womens' restroom? If you, as a man, saw him walk into the womens' restroom, what would you do? At least some men would be willing to use force to protect the women from the "perverted guy" walking into the women's restroom.
That's what these laws will do. They won't do a thing to prevent assaults on non-transgendered people by transgendered people, because that's a threat that hasn't been proven to exist. But it would legitimize prejudice against transgendered people and put them at risk.
And if "bathroom monitors" aren't posted at public restrooms to verify people's birth certificates before allowing them into the "correct" restroom, all the laws will accomplish is to reinforce gender stereotypes and prevent women who don't wear "appropriate" amounts of makeup, wear sufficiently feminine clothing, or show some cleavage from using the restroom.