"I don't have anything against the transgenders, it's about the perverts and predators who could abuse this," or so I often hear. If that's true, it seems odd that all these proposed "bathroom bills" go by biological sex or birth certificates or male and female deoxyribonucleic acid, and don't so much as bring up predatory behavior. Similarly, the policies many of these people are objecting to apply specifically to transgender people and not to anyone else, much less to people trying to commit crimes. But all right, let's look at a few hypothetical scenarios that focus on the perverts and the predators. As of this writing, North Carolina specifically bans people from using public facilities that do not correspond to the sex listed on a their birth certificates, while Target stores have a policy expressly allowing people to use facilities that match their gender identity, so I'll be using the North Carolina capitol building and a Target store as the settings for these scenarios.
- Scenario 1: A predatory cisgender heterosexual man puts on a dress and walks into a women's restroom in a Target store pretending to be a transgender woman.
- Scenario 2: A predatory cisgender heterosexual man puts on a dress and walks into a women's restroom in the North Carolina capitol pretending to be a cisgender woman.
One occurred in a homeless shelter for women in Toronto, which, involving both extended occupancy and presumably someone with some kind of gatekeeper role who in hindsight perhaps should have been more careful, is a very different environment from a restroom or even a locker room. The perpetrator attacked several people before being caught, and has been sentenced to an indefinite jail term that could mean life in prison.
A more recent case in an Idaho Falls, Idaho Target, in which someone took pictures of a woman in an adjacent changing room, also fails to show what detractors want it to. While the perpetrator does apparently identify as transgender, and reports are mixed as to whether this particular Target has gender-segregated changing rooms or the pool of unisex rooms that is nearly universal for Target stores, neither of those have more than marginal relevance to the case. It's essentially impossible to take pictures like that without being caught, and sure enough, the perpetrator was caught and arrested, and has confessed, and will be prosecuted, and it made no difference whether they were transgender or not. Isn't that what's supposed to happen? No one got away with anything, there's no evidence that Target's policy did anything to make anything easier, and existing law applied regardless of who violated it or where.
I find it rather telling that, despite there being people actively hunting for anything damning, these are the only factual cases anyone has been able to find anywhere in decades of trans-friendly anything that involves anyone claiming to be transgender to access anything for any illicit purposes. And if the second case involved the typical unisex changing area, it doesn't even meet those broad criteria!
Regardless, what meaningful difference is there between the two scenarios above? If someone really wants in that bathroom, does either case really pose any more of an obstacle than the other does? Don't forget, too, that there are cisgender women who are tall or muscular or hairy, or have low voices or short hairstyles or masculine builds, or prefer to dress in a more masculine style. Is it fair to give them extra grief because of a might-happen? While there's nothing wrong with watching your back and staying alert for suspicious behavior from anyone, it never has been and never will be as simple as "let's harass everyone who doesn't seem normal enough!"
Speaking of which, what if...
- Scenario 3: A cisgender heterosexual man doesn't put on a dress and walks into a women's restroom in the North Carolina capitol pretending to be a transgender man.
Trying to fight sexual assault by banning trans people from bathrooms in the hopes of keeping predators out makes as little sense as trying to fight obesity by banning bagels from bathrooms in the hopes of keeping donuts out, and for much the same reasons. Bagels aren't donuts, and obesity has very little to do with either of them being in bathrooms in the first place.
And what about an equally plausible and even more basic scenario?
- Scenario 4: A predatory cisgender heterosexual man simply opens the door and walks into a women's restroom, not bothering with any subterfuge.
Regardless, laws and policies make no difference to those who choose to ignore them. A sign on a door, especially one that doesn't lock, is just a sign, not a magical warding talisman. Sometimes I wonder if the objection to trans-inclusive policies has more to do with an unwillingness to face this truth and its implications than with the policies themselves. The rhetoric about non-discrimination policies "opening the door for predators" just sounds silly when it ought to be self-evident that they're already fully capable of, quite literally, opening the door on their own.
Let's also look at several other relevant cases.
- Scenario 5: A cisgender heterosexual man walks into a women's restroom, enters and locks a stall, pees in the toilet, then gets up, washes his hands, and leaves.
- Scenario 6: A cisgender heterosexual woman walks into a men's restroom, enters and locks a stall, pees in the toilet, then gets up, washes her hands, and leaves.
- Scenario 7: A cisgender heterosexual man who wants to feel powerful walks into a men's restroom, corners a boy, and molests him.
- Scenario 8: A cisgender heterosexual woman who wants to feel powerful walks into a women's restroom, corners a girl, and molests her.
- Scenario 9: A transgender person with a male birth certificate walks into a men's restroom (which is what North Carolina law dictates), and is cornered and molested.
Meanwhile, North Carolina has missed out on a number of investments and jobs and events and more, specifically because of objection to their law. That harms the entire state, not just whoever this law supposedly or actually targets. Without even getting into the question of how anyone is meant to enforce it, that's a classic case of cutting off your nose to spite your face. And the governor who willingly signed the bill, apparently without a second thought, and continues to defend it, has the nerve to call the whole thing a conspiracy to hurt his re-election bid. And this sort of nonsense is a large part of why I try to avoid politics.
Some of the fears may well involve the perverts and the predators, but they simply aren't relevant to the question of who should be allowed to use which toilets.