Monday, December 3, 2012
TRANSGENDER RESTROOM KERFUFFLE
I posted this on my favorite Canadian newspaper blog. There is a bill in the Canadian Parliament to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to include gender identity and expression protections. The element of the bill that has raised the most "kerfuffle" is restroom access for trans people. Yup! The old chestnut of "Trannies in the Ladies Room!" (And, yes, I advisedly used the potentially inflammatory word "trannies" specifically due to it's emotional tone) Conservative Canadians have drug out the imagined threat of sexual predators invading the women's restroom to carry out assaults on natal women and children. I am seriously looking for any record of any such assault having ever taken place!!! This search is becoming a hobby for me... And I don't mean embarrassing Colleen Francis episodes where individual judgment and social comfort diverge, I mean actual incidents involving predatory behavior carried out by trans people in restrooms. So please, comment and re-post and help me find actual evidence!
I have been following Ottawa's progress on Bill C-279 with keen interest. I'm frustrated but not surprised to see it bogging down on the washroom issue. I understand the underlying feelings about allowing trans people into the Ladies room. What I don't understand is the rationale applied that there is a very specific threat of child molesters invading these spaces for predatory purposes. This meme keeps surfacing in North America and I just can't help but wonder what tiny kernel of fact can back it up?
Not long ago I spent a weekend of free internet time doggedly trying to find evidence that any trans person, or anyone pretending to be a trans person, had ever lurked in a restroom with criminal intent. All I could find were dozens and dozens of hits where people raised the dire warning of the impending threat of predators just waiting to be descend once they were given free rein. The closest I came was one young trans woman who used the men's room for a semi-consensual encounter with an underage teenage boy. There are many jurisdictions where trans women are allowed to use the Ladies room. Why haven't those areas seen cases of trans or faux-trans people lurking in the washroom?
Well, what else did I find in my Google frenzy? A frightening number of trans women who had been harassed or assaulted for using the women's bathroom. One young trans woman in the U.S. was beaten into a seizure at a fast food restaurant for using the women's room. I found a website (www.safe2pee.org) that provides a directory of safe places for trans people to relieve themselves. I found reasonable people using these incidents and statistics to push for accommodations allowing trans people access to safe facilities. So yes, I did find evidence of a persistent threat of violence at the door of the women's washroom. It's just not the one that legislators in Ottawa, or Tennessee or any number of places, are bellowing about. It's the threat that an entitled majority posses to a minority.
So here, again, I implore anyone to show links to real factual evidence of dangerous trans people prowling restrooms. I'm sure someone will bring up the person in a Texas hospital who was confronted when using a women's room who also had a criminal record of sexual crimes. But that logic would also keep anyone who had ever written a bad check from using a bank or anyone who had ever caused a serious accident from driving. While those are attractive things to consider, no reasonable person would begin to consider keeping all brown haired people from driving because ONE brown haired person had caused an horrific fatal accident.
It is a sticky question, but how much of the question relates to the "Ick Factor" of honest discomfort and how much is a truly clear and present danger?