I have to be honest about something: I never thought I’d care much about LGBT rights. That sounds terrible, I know, but as a straight, cis-gendered woman, I never thought I’d have a reason to. There are too many causes I care about that directly impact my life to add another one onto the plate.
But I do care, even if I have no idea what it’s like to struggle with gender or sexuality. I care because LGBT people are minorities. While my beliefs have evolved, my Jewish heritage technically makes me a minority, too. And I know all too well what it’s like to have to validate who you are to people who just don’t get it, and don’t care enough to even try.
People fear what they don’t understand. It’s one consistent thing about humanity that has not and likely will not ever change. Some people’s misunderstandings are a result of bigotry. And then there are people like Kaeley Triller, a rape survivor who expressed her concern in an article for The Federalist about the ramifications of allowing biological men who identify as women to use women’s restrooms and locker rooms.
As a rape survivor myself (I feel weird saying “survivor,” because my life was never in danger, but it sounds a lot better than “victim”), I get it. Really, I do. I know the feeling of assuming every male stranger is a predator, especially when you are by yourself in places like malls, airports, and train stations. It’s not about sexism, but survival. Paranoia itself is generally not a good thing, but in many cases, trusting your gut about something that just doesn’t feel “right” can save lives.
Triller insists she doesn’t believe that transgendered people are predators. She’s concerned about men who will try to pass themselves off as women to gain access to young girls at their most vulnerable.
First, let me just point out that men who dress like women are not transgendered. They are men dressed up as women, period. If we’re strictly talking about clothing here, gender dysphoria is way more complex than that. Men who dress as women with the goal of molesting women and girls are the real predators here. A study from the Williams Institute reports as follows:
In a separate, more qualitative survey of transgender people in San Francisco, Dylan Vade found that “out of 116 responses from those who did not identify as male or female, 48 people took the time to write out specific bathroom experiences, all negative. These experiences ranged from harassment to violence to getting fired” (Vade 2002, 2). Respondents reported being physically abused, verbally harassed, fired, arrested, and made ill from avoiding restrooms altogether.
Yes, there is a clear risk of allowing transgendered individuals to use the restroom that best represents their identity: to the transgendered themselves.
Lest you still think that transgendered = pervert in disguise, let me regale you with this golden quip from Louie Gohmert, a Republican congressman from Texas:
“I was as good a kid as you can have growing up, I never drank alcohol till I was legal, never to, still, use an illegal drug, but in the seventh grade if the law had been that all I had to do was say, ‘I’m a girl,’ and I got to go into the girls’ restroom, I don’t know if I could’ve withstood the temptation just to get educated back in those days.”
So a congressman publicly admits to wishing he committed voyeurism, and that’s not sick at all. The transgendered are still the enemy? Politicians like Gohmert seem like the real predators to me.
Back to Kaeley Triller:
While I feel a deep sense of empathy for what must be a very difficult situation for transgender people, at the beginning and end of the day, it is nothing short of negligent to instate policies that elevate the emotional comfort of a relative few over the physical safety of a large group of vulnerable people.
Don’t they know anything about predators? Don’t they know the numbers? That out of every 100 rapes, only two rapists will spend so much as single day in jail while the other 98 walk free and hang out in our midst? Don’t they know that predators are known to intentionally seek out places where many of their preferred targets gather in groups? That perpetrators are addicts so committed to their fantasies they’ll stop at nothing to achieve them?
Those statistics are disturbing, yes. But here’s the thing about predators: a stick-figure woman in a triangle dress posted on the bathroom door is not going to deter them. Will a person sick enough to commit rape have any qualms about going into the wrong restroom? I’m thinking…no, not really. If “free access” to young girls is the real concern, predators already have it. Let’s also not forget that having a vagina does not mean you can’t be a predator, either. The numbers of sexual assaults committed by women are small compared to assaults committed by men, but they happen (and are far less likely to be reported than male-on-female rape).
And then there’s this: 47% of rapes are committed by someone who already knows and has regular access to the victim, like a friend or a relative (the actual number could be much higher, since rape is one of the most under-reported crimes in human history). So statistically speaking, you might actually be safer in a public restroom than in the home of someone you know.
When it comes down to it, though, we all want the same thing: a safer world with less violence. I’m sure most people don’t want to see anyone get hurt, trans or otherwise. I don’t know what the ideal solution is, but let’s make sure our arguments are coming from facts, not fears.
For more insight, check out We STILL just need to pee by Callie Wright
The Lie Behind the Transgender Bathroom Predator Myth by Libby Anne