The big issue in the news is the use of bathrooms and dressing rooms by the transgender population (only about 1% in the US). In Oxford, Alabama transgender people will face six months of jail time for using restrooms that are not made for their biological gender.
The Target store chain across America announced it now allows transgender employees and their guests to use the restrooms of their choosing. The Oxford City Council passed an ordinance this week stating otherwise, claiming people in public restrooms do not wish nor do they expect to be exposed to transgender people while using the public bathrooms.
The Council suggests that “single sex public facilities are places of increased vulnerability and present the potential for crimes against individuals utilizing those facilities which may include, but not limited to, voyeurism, exhibitionism, molestation and assault and battery.”
While the ordinance holds a fine of $500 or six months in jail, it does hold some exceptions. Children under the age of 12 are allowed to go into bathrooms with their parent or guardian.
But how is all of this going to work? The law will be handled like any other misdemeanor. A witness has to phone police with a complaint and the officer who responds will have to be witness to a transgender person actually being in the wrong restroom or dressing room before a ticket will be issued. The individual who phoned in the complaint will then have to sign a warrant.
The law does not actually state “transgender” in the wording, however the Human Rights Campaign is in the midst of the turmoil around the new law.
“This anti-transgender law is unprecedented in its establishment of criminal penalties for violations of the law and raises a myriad of privacy and legal concerns, including questions about how the law will be enforced.”
Mississippi and North Carolina have also introduced laws stating that transgender Americans are to use the bathrooms meant for their biological gender. And so the fear begins.
What are Americans afraid of? The thought that our daughters and wives, sisters, aunts and cousins will be sexually assaulted has come to the forefront of this new battle against transgender folks. Many are claiming that a “man is a man, no matter how he dresses, so letting him use the women’s bathroom is absurd.” But isn’t it true that a pervert or pedophile can sneak into a women’s bathroom or dressing room by simply dressing as a woman, without being a transgender person, even before the transgender battle began?
The National Center for Transgender Equality and the Human Rights Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union claim there is no substantial evidence of violence from transgender people to justify these laws. Isn’t the bottom line that these news laws are lying on a foundation of simple fear and anger toward anyone who is gay, lesbian or a transgender?
The American Family Association has garnered almost one million signatures against Target over the decision to allow transgender folks the ability to use whatever bathroom makes them feel comfortable. The conservative Christian activist group believes the law means a man “can simply say he ‘feels like a woman today’ and enter the women’s restroom, even if young girls or women are already in there.” The issue with this line of thought is that if a man has or is becoming a woman, they are not going to be interested in other women. If the fear is based on the foundation of a child molester or rapists coming into the area where women are most vulnerable, that could have been accomplished long before the inclusion of transgender people’s use of a woman’s bathroom.
Most women’s stalls in either bathrooms or in dressing rooms have curtains or are enclosed with locking doors. For those that don’t have any sort of privacy door or curtain, maybe we should instead make it law to have stores or public restrooms provide them. The cost would be minimal and we could get on with more important things happening in the world today.