In the last few months mainstream media has begun talking more about people’s right to pee! Specifically about bills that are horribly discriminatory to trans individuals often called “bathroom bills.” In 2016 alone 11 states have seen bills that would restrict access to facilities such as bathrooms, locker rooms, and changing rooms for trans individuals. In places like South Dakota and Kentucky bills have been introduced that specifically target students while in Florida and Texas recently proposed bills could put people who were “caught” in the “wrong” facilities in prison for a year along with hefty fines.
Most of the advocates for these bills point to concerns regarding privacy and higher risk of sexual assault. Lawmakers say they are concerned for peoples privacy but propose bills that financially reward “catching a member of the excluded biological sex.†” How do people catch “perpetrators” without infringing on privacy? Do trans individuals not deserve privacy too? What about the individuals who are in the bathroom that matches their birth certificate yet don’t fit into common gender presentation stereotypes? When it comes to the physical danger of allowing individuals to use the facility that matches their identity The Family Research Council says “The government should never purposefully threaten the public safety of women and children by creating the legitimized access that sexual predators tend to seek.º” Roger Gannam, the lawyer who represents Kim Davis*, said “It’s a fact of life that predators attack women and children in bathrooms; it happens everywhere.††” This statement is both false and dangerously assumptive. First it makes the accusation that allowing trans individuals into bathrooms they identify with increases not just the risk but the actual occurrences of assault. Secondly, these statements falsely promote the myth that only men are sexual predators and only women and children are assaulted. Mediamatters.org has reached out to states, counties, and cities across the US who have anti discrimination laws to see if there was any relationship to anti-discrimination laws and an increase in trans related bathroom violence. Mayor Gimenez of Miami Dade County responded that “To our knowledge, Miami-Dade County has not experienced an increase in sexual assaults or rape in women’s restrooms since the passing of the new ordinance or as a result of it. Nor do we have any knowledge of men pretending to be women to enter women’s restrooms.” While New Mexico’s Albuquerque Police Department stated “We are unaware of any cases of assault in our city as a result of transgendered [sic] accommodations.ºº”
Many people are taking to social media to raise awareness of these issues like Michael C. Hughes (@michaelhughes1). Hughes, a man from Texas, recently began taking selfies in women’s bathrooms with statements like “Republicans want to put me in the restroom with her, because I was assigned female at birth – do I look like I belong in women’s facilities” along with the hashtags #wejustneedtopee and #letmypeoplepee.** The images are prime examples about how these bills are completely absurd.
— Michael C. Hughes (@_michaelhughes1) April 10, 2015
Others are making it easier for people to find a safe space to pee in peace through sites like Refuge Restrooms. This open source web app “seeks to provide safe restroom access for transgender, intersex, and gender nonconforming individuals” by allowing anyone to add to and rate bathrooms in the database.
So what can you do to help fight this discrimination?
- You can visit sites like the ACLU Act (https://www.aclu.org/action) or National Center for Transgender Equality’s Take Action (http://www.transequality.org/actions) to let legislators know you support everyone’s right to use the facility that matches their identity.
- If you use social media consider using the hashtags #wejustneedtopee #letmypeoplepee and #illpeewithyou to show your support.
- Add to and share the Refuge Restrooms Database
* the KY clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses last year.
**According to Michael, all the women included in the selfies are friends or family. He took precautions to not make people uncomfortable by randomly walking into a ladies room with a man photographing himself!
† “Bill: Catch Trans Student in wrong Bathroom, Win $2500” Steven Nelson (1/16/15) http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/01/16/kentucky-bill-catch-transgender-student-in-wrong-bathroom-win-2-500
†† “Florida Experts debunk the transgender ‘bathroom predator’ myth” Rachel Percelay (1/12/16) http://mediamatters.org/research/2016/01/12/florida-experts-debunk-the-transgender-bathroom/207916
º ”Gender Identity” Protections (“Bathroom Bills”) Peter Sprigg Thttp://www.frc.org/onepagers/gender-identity-protections-bathroom-bills
ºº 15 Experts Debunk Right-Wing Transgender Bathroom Myth (March 20, 2014) http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201403200001