The good news is that a transgender rights bill passed in Massachusetts today. The bad news is that it does not provide safe access to bathrooms because of a manipulative ad campaign.
Massachusetts became the 16th state to add transgender citizens as a protected class. Huffington Post reports that the law:
“not only adds protections to the state’s civil rights laws against employment, education, housing and credit discrimination, but also adds gender identity and expression to the state’s hate crimes law.”
HuffPo also notes that a provision preventing discrimination in public accommodations was dropped two days before the vote because of objections from Massachusetts House Republicans. Conservative organizations Focus on the Family and Family Research Council ran radio ads warning parents that they can no longer let their children go to the bathroom alone. Hear the one of the radio ads below:
The critics of the bill also put up a fancy website that includes the extra creepy line “protect the privacy and modesty of prepubescent little girls”. I don’t think I would want the author of that line to use the bathroom with my children, but whatever. The site lays out their rationale for opposing the bill:
Among the negative consequences of this law are: a) school children would be taught that they can change their gender if they want and b) women and children would be put at risk since access to sensitive areas such as single-sex bathrooms, locker rooms, and c) women-only fitness facilities would be open to anyone, regardless of biological sex, and d) anyone speaking out against it could be charged with a “hate crime.”
You gotta love the vague “put women and children at risk” line. They don’t know what’s going to happen! Probably something rapey and scary though. That’s why the tough guys are running radio ads and starting websites to protect the helpless women of Massachusetts.
I guess my question is the same as the one raised by the Transgender Law Center in their report (.pdf) on bathroom safety for transgender people, which is: Why do you assume that your children are safe right now? If a guy wanted to walk into a public bathroom and commit a crime he could. There’s no bouncers checking for vaginas at the door. The only things that maintain the safe space in a public accommodation is 1) The presence of other people or 2) cameras or other security. Allowing transgender access would change neither one of those. Even if a man were to specifically try to impersonate a transgender person in order to gain access to these spaces, do the critics of the bill picture the other women (or transgender women) in these spaces just allowing that impostor to sexually assault other women? You might as well not let you child do anything alone because transgender people are everywhere. We might run into you at the ice cream shop! You’re never safe.
And lastly, let’s just note that if we made it easier to change our gender markers on official identification, this would be easier. Then we could all change our identification to match our gender identity and the bouncers that are currently protecting women’s restrooms all over the country (American Heroes!) wouldn’t have to check everyone’s vagina all the time.