The topic dominating Facebook debates recently has been the issue of transgender individual’s rights to use the public bathrooms of their choice. States are debating whether it is lawful to allow those who identify as transgender to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with or the one that matches their birth certificate. Supporters and opponents steadfastly hold their ground on the social media battlefield (where there aren’t any bathrooms at all, ironically) as a whirlwind of digital smoke and debris sweeps up friendly relationships in its wake.
Some men simply do not want their wives and daughters sharing a bathroom with other penises lurking, away from his protection. They argue that a flimsy particle board door is not enough protection from a predatory man dressed in drag who is abusing the new laws. Likewise, many women aren’t thrilled with this dynamic either.
Those who follow this conservative line of thinking are being labeled as hate-filled bigots by those with more progressive trains of thought. They claim that transgender individuals pose no more threat than any other woman. Many refuse to address the concerns of the potential of a cis man taking advantage of the system. The law enforcement community is sweeping this concern under the rug as well.
Transgender individuals without a doubt need a safe restroom to use and few will deny that a solution to this problem is long overdue. Trans women particularly are at risk of violence while using a men’s room. Horror stories can be found in not only pro-trans publications but mainstream news sources. There is little doubt that a men’s room is one of the most dangerous places a transgender person can be, and that isn’t acceptable. However, allowing men explicit, unquestioned access to lady’s rooms could mean giving the truly deviant easy access to many defenseless women and girls. This isn’t acceptable either.
So what is acceptable? Single-stall family restrooms seem to be the safest solution. Those outside the transgender community could be better served if more single-stall restrooms existed too. Changing tables are a rare find in men’s rooms, so fathers out with their kids would have a comfortable spot to change their young children. Disabled individuals who require assistance from their partner would have a gender-neutral place to use the restroom. And yes, transgender men and women can freely use these restrooms without fear of harassment or violence.
To solve this problem, we need to have open discussions (not arguments) and think about what is best for the trans community and the safety of all who using the restroom. While there is no resolution that will suit everyone, single-stall restrooms seem to offer the best solution while catering to other beneficiaries as well. People may cite the infamous Jim Crow case when hearing this idea, but reasonable people willing to work together to resolve the concerns presented by both sides can still win the day. American’s willing to show mutual respect and camaraderie will no doubt find the best solution for all.
(Edit 5/14) Obama is not a fan of this compromise stating in his recent ultimatum delivered to public school systems that ‘single-stall bathrooms when other students aren’t required to do the same.’ So much for working for the good of everyone.