What You Need to Know About America’s Bathroom Controversy

America’s restroom controversy won’t seem to go away. North Carolina has come under fire after it passed a law prohibiting city governments from passing “gender-neutral” bathroom laws.

What’s Going On?

As an earlier report at CR detailed, the city of Charlotte, N.C., moved to pass legislation that would have mandated a city-wide “gender-neutral” restroom policy for places of public accommodation. Citing safety and privacy concerns, the N.C. General Assembly passed a measure in March 2016 to prohibit local governments in the state from doing so. It was later signed by Governor McCrory.

Since then, PayPal said it is canceling plans to open an operating center in Charlotte, the National Basketball Association threatened to pull its 2017 All-Star Game from the state, and the United Kingdom issued a travel warning for LGBT Brits considering a visit to the area.

What Are the Safety Concerns?

While opponents have called North Carolina’s HB2 and South Carolina’s S.1203 “sweeping anti-LGBT” measures, proponents of the legislation have said the laws are based on safety concerns.

Some fear predators will use these gender-neutral policies to infiltrate restrooms of the opposite sex with ill intentions. Such instances have already occurred, many in places that do not have gender-neutral policies.

In 2015, a Virginia man was arrested and charged with three counts of unlawful filming of a non-consenting person and three counts of peeping after he allegedly dressed as a woman to gain access to women’s restrooms and changing rooms at local stores.

In February of 2016, a Seattle suburb was outraged after a man wearing nothing but board shorts walked into the women’s bathroom of a public pool. When she attempted to remove him from the facility, he refused, saying “the law has changed and I have the right to be here.”

Most recently, an undercover video captured by Project Veritas purportedly shows university officials at a North Carolina University ignoring undercover journalists’ claims of using such policies to peep on members of the opposite sex in multiple use facilities.

Why are People Asking to Use Different Restrooms in the First Place?

This question, the most misunderstood portion of the debate, requires a nuanced understanding of psychology, “gender dysphoria,” philosophy, and the distinction between the treatment of people and the treatment of ideas and policies.

The American Psychiatric Association defines “gender dysphoria” as having a “marked difference between [someone’s] expressed/experienced gender and the gender others would assign him or her.” Furthermore, the condition must “continue for at least six months” to reach the threshold of diagnosis.

Psychologists disagree about how to best treat this condition, which most LGBT advocates argue is a natural condition. Some say the only way to address it is to allow and encourage people to dress and act in accordance with their “expressed/experienced gender.” This includes using the restroom of the perceived gender, undergoing treatments that alter the human body, gender reassignment surgery, hormone therapy, and/or having government documents changed to indicate the expressed gender as fact.

Regardless of conservatives’ thoughts about the implications of these demands and the ongoing debate, there will continue to be people who represent themselves contrary to their biological sex in public, and they will have to use the facilities at some point.

What Does the N.C. “Bathroom Bill” Actually Do?

HB2 prohibits local governments in North Carolina from forcing places of public accommodation to allow people to use restrooms and changing facilities that do not align with their biological sex. Contrary to popular belief, it does not ban gender neutral facilities from private businesses, but merely puts a legislative fence around municipal governments.

An executive order issued by Gov. Pat McCrory clarifies that “when readily available and practicable in the best judgement of the agency, all cabinet agencies shall provide a reasonable accommodation of a single occupancy restroom, locker room or shower facility upon request, due to special circumstances.”

In essence, this makes a practical concession similar to the policies listed above, while still avoiding the concerns generated by removing biological sex regulations from multiple occupancy facilities.


What Does the Public Think?

A Reuters poll found a marked decline in the popularity of such policies following the recent firestorm over the issue, which includes a move to boycott Target retail stores over their self-imposed restroom policies.

Ethics and Public Policy Center’s Mona Charen—citing separate research—writes:

We’ve become so discombobulated that perfectly intelligent people will say, without noticing the contradiction, that homosexual behavior is an inborn trait, but the “male/female binary” is a socially constructed fiction.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has now ruled that a “transgender” 17-year-old must be permitted to use the bathroom of her imagined “gender identity” rather than her sex. “It’s easy to forget that these debates are about personal dignity,” scolded the New York Times.

There is nothing dignified about ratifying an unhappy person’s tragic misperception. What if the young person considered herself African American like Rachel Dolezal? Should she get preferences in college admission? Or what about Danny Almonte, who was 14 when he starred in the 2001 Little League tournament? If he felt 12, does that make it ok?

Furthermore, Kaely Triller, a rape survivor writes:

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?

Do they know that more than 99 percent of single-victim incidents are committed by males? That they are experts in rationalization who minimize their number of victims? Don’t they know that insurance companies highlight locker rooms as a high-risk area for abuse that should be carefully monitored and protected?

Finally, a father of a six-year-old girl wrote of Target’s recent decision:

In response to the major retailer’s latrine call, hundreds of thousands of people pledged to boycott the store in just a few days.

Many people opposed to these policies have legitimate concerns about about how politicians are making laws about a psychological condition — especially when treatments have not been agreed upon — and the specifics of the policies.

What have other cities done?

Charlotte is far from the first American city to address the question of how people who identify and represent themselves as another sex are allowed to use public facilities. In fact, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., West Hollywood and others have all adopted similar policies.

Bathroom Polices by city 2

The approaches taken outside of Charlotte and Houston have managed to simultaneously satisfy recommendations made by both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the pro-LGBT Human Rights Campaign without sparking massive safety concerns that have been cited by opponents of the Charlotte/Houston model.

What’s Next?

The Charlotte/Houston model offers little benefit other than the implied societal acceptance of something that only seems to be agreed upon by LGBT activists. That being said, communities, municipalities, city councils, who are considering adopting such a public accommodation policy, might be to look and see what’s already been done in other cities to find a working model.

Either way, recent boycotts on the State of North Carolina, as well as counter-boycotts on businesses like Target will likely continue until public the issue reaches a point of “critical mass” that requires a compromise, or it will go the way of other similar controversies (remember the Chick-Fil-A boycott?) and fade into a distant memory. (For more from the author of “What You Need to Know About America’s Bathroom Controversy” please click HERE)

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