Common Sense is Killing Us
In court documents filed, the state of North Carolina argued that the state’s law banning transgender people from public restrooms matching their gender identity should remain in effect while a legal challenge proceeds in federal court. Gov. Pat McCrory has named that House Bill 2 “maintains common sense gender-specific restroom and locker facilities in government buildings and in our schools”. The bill, and the obstinacy by which the state of North Carolina defends the bill, is backed by networks of fundamentalists across the U.S. that applaud McCrory’s defense of the state law as an important reaction to the “government overreach” of a local city ordinance that expanded protections for LGBTQI people. Gov. McCrory: We have a word for the ability to assert one’s beliefs in the public sphere in order to deny the rights of and incite violence against other more vulnerable people. It is called discrimination and it is (or should be) illegal in all 50 states. To protect the powerful quasi-religious institutions’ “right” to discriminate against Trans* and GNC people under the farce of “religious freedom” is immoral and un-Christian.
(Screen Grab Credit: David Edwards, rawstory.com) Some people, like Gov. McCrory and the Christian talk radio that fans the flames of trans-panic around the world, call laws like HB2 in North Carolina “common sense.” But common sense is not right because it is inherently obvious or true. It is common sense because it has been pressed upon us as “normal” over and over again, i.e. the status quo. Many say it is common sense that “girls wear dresses” and “boys wear pants”... yet in a different time and place, like ancient Greece (or ancient Israel), men (like Jesus of Nazareth) would have worn something that looks a lot more like a dress than like pants.
We have a word for when people use their “common sense” to discern whether someone is a threat or not, and it’s called profiling. Historically, profiling has not worked out very well. At least not for People of Color. Because criminal profiling relies predominantly on an individual's perception of someone else which is susceptible to social biases based on things such as skin color and clothing. Racial profiling is how Japanese American internment happened. It's the reason why there has been a steady rise of violence against innocent Sikh Americans since 9/11. It's why Trayvon Martin is dead. And why people still to this day continue to defend his murder along with countless other Black and brown people whose lives are taken unjustly by state violence. Profiling results in the criminalization of whole people groups, because what is at the root of it is not sense-- it is fear. Profiling is the violent misdirection of fear. So let's look at the facts. Gender profiling and policing bathrooms is exactly what will cause (and has already begun to cause) an outbreak of violence, abuse, and unwarranted harassment towards an already vulnerable people group: transgender and gender non-conforming people. As well as some people who identify as cisgender (most likely women being perceived as men), who fall under scrutiny and constant questioning because their hair is too short or they dress too masculine. Most recently it was a youth who was ruthlessly interrogated and escorted out of a woman’s bathroom by police even though she continually asserted she was a woman. Some facts:
- Sexual assault is most likely to be committed by someone familiar in a private space- NOT in a public restroom facility.
- 14 states in the US currently have laws allowing people to choose the bathroom of their gender and there has NEVER been a recorded incident of sexual abuse committed by trans people in a bathroom in those states.
- Most perpetrators of sexual violence are actually cis men (men get raped too but most of the time by other men), and we have NO REPORTED CASES of sexual predators committing sexual assault while dressed in women’s clothing. None.
- In fact, IT IS TRANS PEOPLE who actually experience the highest rate of abuse in bathrooms, and we have plenty of documented cases to prove it. 70% report being turned away or harassed while trying to use the restroom and as a result trans and gender non-conforming people have much higher rates of dehydration, urinary tract infections, and kidney problems due to avoiding going to restroom in public places.
Lesson: If we're looking at addressing any problem here, it should be the violence towards trans people. And if you're claiming the "moral stand" against all of this because you're a Christian, I believe the Bible says something about caring for the least of these. And trans people, especially trans people of color, experience the highest rate of prejudiced policing, unwarranted stops, arrests, and assault just for being who they are in this world. Some more facts:
- A disproportionate rate of homeless youth are LGBT (around 40%)
- Trans and gender non-conforming youth have alarming rates of bladder infections and urinary tract/ kidney-related diseases because of the high likelihood that they will be bullied and/or attacked in their school bathrooms.
- The homicide rate of trans people is at a historic high in the US. A trans person is murdered every 29 hours. (And that's a humble estimation based only on people whose gender identity made it to public record.) And if that isn’t enough, 41% of transgender people report attempting suicide at one point in their life.
Our trans family is under attack, and I'm am so saddened, disheartened, and upset about how Christians so far have COMPLETELY MISSED THE POINT and taken a hammer to the heads of people who are already the most vulnerable physically and spiritually from being targeted in society and often rejected, many times by their own families.
So just to be clear:
Is rape and sexual assault a problem? Yes.
Do children deserve our best protection? Yes.
Are women and children protected by locking down bathrooms and checking IDs at the door? No.
Should we redirect our fear of sexual violence onto trans or GNC people who are just trying to pee? No.
No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. NO! Religious freedom bills about bathrooms are red herrings to distract us from actual agendas. What bathroom bills are really about is motivating people through fear tactics to go against their own best interests and against their Christian values of empathy, charity, hospitality, kindness and protecting the vulnerable. What is actually does is reignite historically white supremacist arguments for states’ rights and personal rights. But no one actually gets more rights. The institutions and individuals in power stay in power, and the rest of us get screwed.