The Transgender Bathroom Situation16 min read

Aug 14, 2018 | At School | 2 comments

Where did this come from?

    I want you to think back a bit. Before the infamous House Bill 2 in North Carolina in 2016, which restricted trans individuals from using the bathroom aligned with their gender, how much did you think about trans people using the bathroom? I imagine, unless you are, or are related to, a trans person, not a whole lot. I’m in my mid-30s and never, not once, have I gone into the men’s room wondering if any of the people using the bathroom are trans. So why on earth did this bill get made in the first place? Let’s get to the bottom of it…

“There has never been a single case reported of a trans-person going into the restroom of their gender identity and molesting a child.”

   We should start off with one very important fact about trans people using the bathroom: There has never been a single case reported of a trans-person going into the restroom of their gender identity and molesting a child. Not a single one. Why is that the first thing? Because all across the country the radical Christian and conservative narrative was simple: Think of the kids. If you can scare a parent into believing that something or someone at any given time will harm their child, they’ll buy whatever remedy you sell hook, line and sinker. And so a false correlation between child molestation and transgender adults was cemented in the minds of the Republican constituency, a group that has been criticized of late for lack of fact checking before believing something is true.

   Now, it is somewhat ironic that this “but what of the children?!” story was being pushed, when in fact, allowing trans people to use the bathroom of their gender identity can literally protect trans youth from sexual assault. Many stories have developed since this bathroom discussion about students who have transitioned in school being denied access to the bathroom of their gender. I’ll give you an excellent example: I work with a family that has a trans-daughter. She is 9, and more brave than I ever could have been, advocating for her trans identity since two and in 3rd grade transitioning from male to female clothing, pronouns, and school activities. Like many trans youth, she wrestles depression and suicidal ideation. She has an amazing family that supports her from parents to cousins to grandparents. Her school got squirrely about her using the girl’s restroom and had her walking across the entire school to use the single stall bathroom in the nurse’s office. Before being enlightened about her legal rights to the bathroom of her gender identity (I’m also a school advocate), the school felt it necessary to tell every family in the district that an unnamed student would be using a different restroom. We all know how quickly gossip and news spread among children and their parents, so being “unnamed” didn’t last long.

       All of this insanity around her using the bathroom never had anything to do with her, and everything to do with the perception. And to ask her to use the boy’s bathroom because she was identified as a boy at birth would be placing a darling little girl with long hair and sparkly outfits in the grade school boy’s room. Can you fathom the ridicule she would experience? The constant questioning and barrage of insults, all the parents sitting at home with their own children openly talking about a 9 year old child’s bathroom usage. How is this policy in any way protecting her, or the other children at the school? (Spoiler alert: it’s not)

Now that we’ve cleared that up, I want to make a request of you. Likelihood is that you will use a public restroom today, either at work or school, in an airport or a restaurant. I want you to imagine what it would be like to walk into the wrong bathroom. What would happen? Would a bunch of people correct you? Would someone scream or be in fear because you look like you’re in the wrong bathroom? What would you feel like if you KNEW you should be using the bathroom that aligns with your gender, but were forced to use the wrong one? Now, how many times do you use a public restroom in any given week? 3-4 times? Including work or school maybe 10-12 times? Imagine feeling foreign, belittled, corrected, yelled at every single time. At nine years old, my little client is already experiencing thoughts of self harm. She is nine. She’s still got an entire lifetime of people telling her what’s wrong with her, where she can or cannot be, and that everyone else feeling comfortable is more important than her feeling safe. So what can we do to help?

“Imagine feeling foreign, belittled, corrected, yelled at every single time.”

   Vote for politicians that support people using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity. Educate yourself, and in turn, other people about this issue so your discussions are from a place of fact, not fable. Call out bigotry when you hear it or see it whether online or in person. Be an ally by standing up for trans people’s rights, taking the burden off of them to both fight and survive. Tell your children that transgender people aren’t any different than everyone else, and have the right to privacy. Tell your PTA to update their bathroom policies.

   Last word on this: Why is this important? Because trans teen are at greatest risk to commit suicide. I worked for an organization that provided housing for homeless LGBTQ+ youth. In a single calendar year, with around 600 new intakes, 37% said that they had attempted suicide. Not 37% were thinking about it; 37% had a history of self harm; 37% had a plan to do it; no, 37% of the youth intaked had already tried to kill themselves. Which means more than that had done so, because we can’t tally the thousands whose attempts didn’t fail.

If you truly want to protect kids, ALL kids, be a trans ally and fight for their right to use the bathroom with privacy and decency.

Where did this come from?

    I want you to think back a bit. Before the infamous House Bill 2 in North Carolina in 2016, which restricted trans individuals from using the bathroom aligned with their gender, how much did you think about trans people using the bathroom? I imagine, unless you are, or are related to, a trans person, not a whole lot. I’m in my mid-30s and never, not once, have I gone into the men’s room wondering if any of the people using the bathroom are trans. So why on earth did this bill get made in the first place? Let’s get to the bottom of it…

“There has never been a single case reported of a trans-person going into the restroom of their gender identity and molesting a child.”

   We should start off with one very important fact about trans people using the bathroom: There has never been a single case reported of a trans-person going into the restroom of their gender identity and molesting a child. Not a single one. Why is that the first thing? Because all across the country the radical Christian and conservative narrative was simple: Think of the kids. If you can scare a parent into believing that something or someone at any given time will harm their child, they’ll buy whatever remedy you sell hook, line and sinker. And so a false correlation between child molestation and transgender adults was cemented in the minds of the Republican constituency, a group that has been criticized of late for lack of fact checking before believing something is true.

   Now, it is somewhat ironic that this “but what of the children?!” story was being pushed, when in fact, allowing trans people to use the bathroom of their gender identity can literally protect trans youth from sexual assault. Many stories have developed since this bathroom discussion about students who have transitioned in school being denied access to the bathroom of their gender. I’ll give you an excellent example: I work with a family that has a trans-daughter. She is 9, and more brave than I ever could have been, advocating for her trans identity since two and in 3rd grade transitioning from male to female clothing, pronouns, and school activities. Like many trans youth, she wrestles depression and suicidal ideation. She has an amazing family that supports her from parents to cousins to grandparents. Her school got squirrely about her using the girl’s restroom and had her walking across the entire school to use the single stall bathroom in the nurse’s office. Before being enlightened about her legal rights to the bathroom of her gender identity (I’m also a school advocate), the school felt it necessary to tell every family in the district that an unnamed student would be using a different restroom. We all know how quickly gossip and news spread among children and their parents, so being “unnamed” didn’t last long.

       All of this insanity around her using the bathroom never had anything to do with her, and everything to do with the perception. And to ask her to use the boy’s bathroom because she was identified as a boy at birth would be placing a darling little girl with long hair and sparkly outfits in the grade school boy’s room. Can you fathom the ridicule she would experience? The constant questioning and barrage of insults, all the parents sitting at home with their own children openly talking about a 9 year old child’s bathroom usage. How is this policy in any way protecting her, or the other children at the school? (Spoiler alert: it’s not)

Now that we’ve cleared that up, I want to make a request of you. Likelihood is that you will use a public restroom today, either at work or school, in an airport or a restaurant. I want you to imagine what it would be like to walk into the wrong bathroom. What would happen? Would a bunch of people correct you? Would someone scream or be in fear because you look like you’re in the wrong bathroom? What would you feel like if you KNEW you should be using the bathroom that aligns with your gender, but were forced to use the wrong one? Now, how many times do you use a public restroom in any given week? 3-4 times? Including work or school maybe 10-12 times? Imagine feeling foreign, belittled, corrected, yelled at every single time. At nine years old, my little client is already experiencing thoughts of self harm. She is nine. She’s still got an entire lifetime of people telling her what’s wrong with her, where she can or cannot be, and that everyone else feeling comfortable is more important than her feeling safe. So what can we do to help?

“Imagine feeling foreign, belittled, corrected, yelled at every single time.”

   Vote for politicians that support people using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity. Educate yourself, and in turn, other people about this issue so your discussions are from a place of fact, not fable. Call out bigotry when you hear it or see it whether online or in person. Be an ally by standing up for trans people’s rights, taking the burden off of them to both fight and survive. Tell your children that transgender people aren’t any different than everyone else, and have the right to privacy. Tell your PTA to update their bathroom policies.

   Last word on this: Why is this important? Because trans teen are at greatest risk to commit suicide. I worked for an organization that provided housing for homeless LGBTQ+ youth. In a single calendar year, with around 600 new intakes, 37% said that they had attempted suicide. Not 37% were thinking about it; 37% had a history of self harm; 37% had a plan to do it; no, 37% of the youth intaked had already tried to kill themselves. Which means more than that had done so, because we can’t tally the thousands whose attempts didn’t fail.

If you truly want to protect kids, ALL kids, be a trans ally and fight for their right to use the bathroom with privacy and decency.

2 Comments

  1. Sabine Salandy

    Thanks for explaining. When I first read about this issue with the bathroom I thought I must be missing something. I accompany my 11 year old daughter to the public bathrooms and yes it is out of fear that some adult might mess with her. But the point is that their are men who molest boy and women who molest girls. So the conservative argument really makes no sense.

    Reply
    • theproudpath

      Yes exactly. The way that these laws developed was founded in the idea that trans people were abusing the ability to use the restroom of their gender identity in order to abuse children. However, statistically we know that to be false, and the vast majority of, if not all, transgender people would simply like to be afforded their right to use the restroom with dignity and privacy.

      Reply

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Nathaniel Gray

Nathaniel Gray

Founder, Writer, and LGBTQ+ Empathy Mentor

Nathaniel is a social worker, mentor for parents of LGBTQ+ youth, and facilitator/empathy mentor. He started out in NYC as a singer/dancer/actor from the heartland (O-H-I-O) getting his BFA in Musical Theater from Pace University. After years of performance, Nathaniel turned to working with youth, as an educator and administrator at Fusion Academy. Since then he has completed his Master’s in Social Work at Fordham University and started The Proud Path, as well as worked with the Ali Forney Center and the Hetrick-Martin Institute, agencies addressing LGBTQ+ youth homelessness. His mission is to learn everything he can about the coming out process to assist others through it, and develop empathy within those who never have to.

Nathaniel Gray

Nathaniel Gray

Founder, Writer, and LGBTQ+ Empathy Mentor

Nathaniel is a social worker, mentor for parents of LGBTQ+ youth, and facilitator/empathy mentor. He started out in NYC as a singer/dancer/actor from the heartland (O-H-I-O) getting his BFA in Musical Theater from Pace University. After years of performance, Nathaniel turned to working with youth, as an educator and administrator at Fusion Academy. Since then he has completed his Master’s in Social Work at Fordham University and started The Proud Path, as well as worked with the Ali Forney Center and the Hetrick-Martin Institute, agencies addressing LGBTQ+ youth homelessness. His mission is to learn everything he can about the coming out process to assist others through it, and develop empathy within those who never have to.

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