The debate on bathrooms: Who can go where?

Patricia Dillon, Managing Editor

Florida, Texas, and other states have drafted a bill that would make it illegal for a person to enter a bathroom not designated for the biological sex he or she was assigned at birth. In Texas, a bill has also been presented where a bystander can sue a transgender person for up to $2000 dollars plus mental anguish. If this bill were to be put into law it would present a major problem for members of the transgender community.

Some of the arguments of those in support of these bills are nonsensical. They claim that it is for public safety and to protect people. They don’t want perverts walking in and checking them out while they use the facilities. First, a pervert walking into a bathroom of the opposite sex is already illegal, so this bill does not add any protection. Second, there is no way to enforce the bill on transgender people who fully present themselves as the gender they choose without checking them out and becoming a pervert yourself. Last, a transgender person is not entering the bathroom of the gender they identify as to spy on people. A transgender person is entering the bathroom to, guess what, use the bathroom.

The creation of this bill was not to protect people. It was to discriminate against members of the transgender community. As I said, the bill does not provide any protection or there would have been something similar years before now to prevent men from entering women’s bathrooms and vice versa. Those who are anti-gay are recognizing that they are losing the battle for gay marriage and so they have moved on to different targets.

The bill that allows for someone to sue a transgender person for using the bathroom is ridiculous, particularly the part about the mental anguish. What about the mental anguish of the transgender man or women? Transgender people are bullied verbally and physically every day. They suffer more greatly than any “mental anguish” that it might cause someone who happens to be uncomfortable around a transgender person. But the people in support of these bills don’t care about the harm they cause transgender people. They care only for their own comfort.

The root of these bills is ignorance. Ignorance breeds hatred and fear. It is that fear born from ignorance that really created these bills. Before law makers start suggesting ways to prevent a minority from doing this or that, they should get to know people from that minority.

I know a few transgender people and they are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. They are also some of the bravest. By being true to who they are they open themselves up for bullying and harassment. People treat transgender men and women as freaks and less than human. It’s not right. A transgender woman is just like any other woman. She just happens to be trapped in the wrong body. The same goes for transgender men. Gender identity is more than the body a person has. It’s a mental and emotional state.

For those who say that being transgender is an abomination or that there is no such, quit being so closed-minded. I’m a Christian. But I’m also an advocate for LGBT* rights. To those who wish to use the Bible to refute the existence of transgender people I offer this verse: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13 NIV). Some might say that this verse proves transgender men and women cannot exist because God made them a biological man or woman. I would argue the opposite. God made a person the way he or she is – including his or her mental and emotional state. If a person inside of a male body feels like a woman mentally and emotionally, then she is a woman. God doesn’t make mistakes, but the human body can.

In conclusion, be more aware and considerate of others. Don’t judge an entire group without learning anything about them or getting to know someone from that group. Have an open mind and an open heart. Get off of your white, heterosexual privileged high horse and humble yourself a bit by placing yourself in someone else’s situation. Quit using religion as a means to spread hate and bigotry.