Long before communities started talking about transgender people using bathrooms of the genders they identify with, our society has operated on a policy of privates being private. When someone walks into a male or female bathroom, no one already inside asks to inspect appendages or for legal proof of sex. And if urinators use separate, closed stalls, why does it matter what organs they have?
This apparently does matter for some, given the debates taking place on our local, state and national levels regarding transgender people and which bathrooms are safe or appropriate for them to use. Those debates, however, often lose sight of common sense.
There are those who want to prohibit anyone from using a restroom built for the sex other than the one they are legally labeled with, usually citing fear of predators posing as transgender to gain access to a different bathroom for nefarious purposes. We would like to ask those people two things: When has a legal limitation stopped a pervert from doing perverted things, and why would someone pretend to be transgender for a long period of time, enduring common things like public humiliation and bullying, just to one day enter a bathroom of the opposite sex and attack someone?
If the latter were ever to occur, it would certainly be a rare instance — too rare to make the legislation, which is impossible to enforce, worth the cost of further alienating a group that is already marginalized and just wants to be accepted for who they are.
It’s not like transgender people are using a toilet in front of others. In women’s public bathrooms, there are only private stalls, and a female transitioning to male would still use a stall in a men’s public bathroom.
The least controversial solution is, of course, to have only unisex, single-person bathrooms. To that end, we would encourage developers on new projects, wherever possible, to construct those kinds of bathrooms as opposed to shared bathrooms. They are simply more comfortable for everyone anyway — who doesn’t like to be alone in a bathroom?
But that isn’t necessarily a feasible fix for existing public spaces, not that we think they need to be fixed in the first place. In fact, the argument of transgender people using specific bathrooms opening a door for perverts reminds us of people who once feared homosexuals, contending that they were more likely to be pedophiles than heterosexuals.
The details are different but the message is the same — they seem to think accommodating or accepting LGBT people will put their society at risk.
We need to move forward in our thinking and understand that transgender people want the same thing in a public bathroom that the rest of us want: to pee in peace. Let’s not start a war over public toilets.