restroom_logos_at_Lindbergh_Field_r900x493Decades ago, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” This theory is coming back to bite legislators who signed the notorious bathroom bill in North Carolina in March. Since the bill was passed, women have reported harassment by both police officers and civilians in the restroom. These people, usually men, claimed that the women posed a threat to other women using the bathroom and often called them “he” or “sir.” Not long ago, Vox released an article that featured the stories of some of these women, and it got me thinking about the ways that discrimination affects everyone, even the people it supposedly protects.

In case you missed it, back in March North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed a controversial bill that outlawed transgender individuals from using the public restrooms that corresponded to their gender identity. This bill, which also overturned anti-LGBTQ discrimination laws, resulted in an outcry by the LGBTQ community and their allies, and is still a hot topic in the U.S. presidential debate and beyond.

In an attempt to defend this bill, Republicans have argued that allowing people to choose the restroom they prefer based on their gender identity would protect sexual predators attempting to harm women and children using the restroom. However, since the bill was passed a number of woman have reported harassment in the restroom – something they did not experience with any frequency before the bill was passed.

Aimee Toms, who posted a video Vox featured in their article, was approached by a woman in the bathroom, who called her disgusting and told her she didn’t belong there. She said of the encounter: ‚ÄúAfter experiencing the discrimination they [trans people] face firsthand, I cannot fathom the discrimination transgender people must face in a lifetime… Can you imagine going out every day and having people tell you you should not be who you are or that people will not accept you as who you are?” Other women talked about even more frightening stories in which men and police officers forcibly removed them from the restroom, claiming that they didn’t belong there.

This kind of behavior seems like it’s proof of something that we all know, but that we often forget ‚Äì that while discrimination often targets a specific minority group, its effects taint the lives of the majority. Instead of dismissing the hate and harassment that trans people experience every day by suggesting that the real issue with this bathroom bill is that it hurts women, I think these incidents should be an incentive for the women of the world to band together with transgendered people everywhere. This is a anti-feminist bill for a number of reasons; it forbids the expression of sexual identity, it is based on a sexist theory that women need special protection, and it turns a private space for female-identifying people into a war zone.

Instead of worrying about transgendered women, let’s worry about the men who barge into the women’s restroom trying to ‚Äúuphold justice.‚Äù Using the bathroom is a basic human right and a necessity. Let’s make it a safe place for everyone, no matter how they identify.

-Rebecca Valley
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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