Restroom Rights

| May 2, 2016
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By Alvaro Hrgic

We are not talking about forbidding a man from entering a women’s restroom — we are talking about forbidding a woman who may appear to others to be a man from entering the women’s restroom. Lawmakers, you do not get to decide what gender they are; THEY DO. If you believe that everyone is either 100% male or 100% female, what is an hermaphrodite? Which restroom are they supposed to use? If you say they can choose either because they have both reproductive organs, what about someone who surgically added the second organ? One is natural and the other is not, but how does that relate to any harm you might experience sharing the restroom with the former or latter? Numerous studies have shown that the transgender brain can have elements of the anatomy/physiology and psychology of the gender they experience as opposed to the gender of their reproductive organ at birth. One should be allowed to choose their gender identity. If you believe that one does not have this choice, you are entitled to your belief, but your belief is not a valid justification for suppressing the right that a person has to choose their gender identity and act accordingly.

The most fundamental principle of government and society is that one should not impose on another’s rights, unless acting on that right harms another person. These legislators should be familiar with the Harm Principle that is taught on the first day of a political philosophy course, and which all laws are based on. The Harm Principle makes a clear distinction between that which is harmful, and that which is merely offensive and makes someone uncomfortable. Only harm is justification for restricting someone’s right.

If you are worried about a man dressed as a woman being able to harm your child in the bathroom because of their size and strength, shouldn’t you also be worried about a female body-builder, a female athlete, or a female member of the super tall Dinka tribe — especially after considering the frequency of reports of female teachers preying on boys in schools? If you ignorantly believe that women are unable to rape men, it has been proven that men can be sexually aroused even if they do not want to engage in a sexual activity. What do we do about women who were born with female reproductive organs but later added a fully functional male reproductive organ, even when you can’t even tell? By these legislators’ logic, wouldn’t this woman be able to do more harm in the women’s restroom than in the men’s? Furthermore, wouldn’t you then also need to protect your children from women that like to preform typically male sexual maneuvers with a prosthetic penis?

The potential for your female child to be sexually assaulted is already fully present whether a transgender person is in there with them or not. Also, consider this: most male children are sexually assaulted by men. By the same logic, shouldn’t we also forbid male adults and children from using the same restrooms? All these dangers already exist in full form and we have not segregated restrooms to prevent them. Much more effective measures are already in place. Most public bathrooms do not have a closed entryway anymore. Most obviously, parents accompany their young defenseless child in public restrooms, as this is the only way you can protect your from the wide range of potential dangers. Merely forbidding women who you see as men from entering the women’s restroom does not protect against the rest of these very real dangers. Shouldn’t you always accompany your child — rendering the potential harm related to only the transgender community irrelevant?

What should the law say then? That people be required to use the restroom designated for the gender of their reproductive organ at birth? In that case, a female who transitioned to male would be bringing her testosterone filled body and penis into the women’s restroom. But isn’t that what they aimed to prevent in the first place? What do we do about the many people that have an androgynous appearance? Are we going to ask them to show us their reproductive organ? We have not already segregated restrooms to prevent all these potential harms because we know that it is wrong to judge someone by their appearance or physical attributes and restrict their rights solely because of them, and because actually imposing these laws would be both absurd and impossible. Because there is no clear harm that could actually be prevented with this law, your justification must be the prevention of offense and not harm. You are not justified in restricting these people’s’ rights because you think that it is inherently wrong to change your gender, because it makes you uncomfortable or because you think that these people look dangerous. If that was the case, you could forbid people with gang-related face tattoos, satanic jewelry, or other physical attributes that offend you, from using the restroom designated for the gender that they identify with. In some extremely conservative communities you may not be able to use the restroom just because you have a single tattoo. This is a violation of a right that could set a precedent for endless violations.

Alvaro Hrgic is a Bosnian refugee who has been in the United States since 1998. He is a 24 year old graduate student at Texas State studying Philosophy and ethics and an aspiring writer and human rights activist.


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