This essay is a response to the following article: A Rape Survivor Speaks Out About Transgender Bathrooms and a post on Google+. For the purposes of this essay, I will use "bathrooms" as an encompassing term for "restrooms, bathrooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms, and other areas designated one-sex-only".
tl;dr There's no danger in making bathrooms trans-friendly. Sexual predators and other violent people have, do, and will always find ways to do horrible things, regardless of any policy, no matter how strict. All these proposed policies would do is allow men in men's bodies to pee in men's bathrooms, and women in women's bodies to pee into women's bathrooms, regardless of their sex at birth. It has been, is still, and always will be just as illegal (and absolutely horrid) to be a sexual predator.
What happened to the woman in this article is terrible. It's absolutely dreadful. As a lover and a Christian, I want violence in the world to stop entirely (even if so many of my religious brethren haven't expressed such a desire), and seeing such a personal account of it is heartbreaking. I applaud her bravery to write this article, and I wish her the best on her way to recovery.
Sexual predators are horrible people, and should be punished much more viciously than they are. It's astonishing and devastating that so many millions of people are incarcerated for possession of drugs safer than tobacco and alcohol, yet those who destroy someone's entire life go unpunished.
All that said, these facts are not an excuse to let emotions blind you and scare tactics sway you; there's no danger in making bathrooms trans-friendly. The article does not mention any policies explicitly, so I'll have to assume it's referencing the proposed policies that grant transgender people the ability to use the bathroom which matches their gender, and which might also revoke their ability to use the bathroom matching their birth sex. Any of these proposed policies, be they government law or merely house rules, which will allow transgendered individuals to use the bathroom which matches their gender, do not give sexual predators the right to enter any place for the purpose of assaulting people. That would still be just as illegal and as ghastly as ever.
Also, I need to emphasize that there is currently no law that prohibits women from entering men's restrooms and men from entering women's. It is illegal to remain in a part or whole of a private building when told to leave, but this is as far as the law goes to keeping people in the 'proper' bathrooms. Imagine if it were illegal for one to enter a bathroom with the wrong sex on the sign! Fathers whose daughters ran into the ladies' room alone couldn't go in to get them, nor could they take their daughters into the men's room (I know I wouldn't let my kid go alone into an airport bathroom, no matter their gender). Cleaning crew would have to wait for someone of the right gender to clean for them. Perhaps even construction workers wouldn't be allowed to build these rooms once they've hung a sign! These are all silly scenarios that remind us that it's not illegal, just frowned-upon.
Now, we need to define transgender. It's difficult to get your head around, but I think I can explain it. First, I need to make it clear that sex is what genitals and chromosomes you're born with, and gender is completely in your mind and emotions. When you are born, you're assigned the same gender as your sex, but these are mutually exclusive. If you feel like your gender and sex match, you're said to be cisgender.
Being transgender is being born as one sex, but feeling like that's entirely wrong. Before a transgender person has undergone steps to change their body (colloquially called pre-op), being transgender means looking at a mirror and photos of yourself and hating that person for looking like someone you very much are not.
To tell a transgender person they cannot behave as their gender is like telling an abuse victim they must pretend everything is fine. To tell a trans woman she must stay out of the women's room because she isn't a real woman is like telling an abused child to keep their mouth shut because they don't have any real problems. It doesn't just hurt emotions, it's downright abusive in itself. It's emotionally scarring to be told "You're not allowed to be what you are; you must be what I'm comfortable with you being."
Despite the seemingly-growing number of transgender people in the world, there's an even larger number who never address it and dress and act as their birth sex. The reason? They're afraid no one will accept them. Even worse, they’re terrified of a reality they already innately know to be true: if people knew, they would demonize them. They’re not worth respecting. Even silence feels better than that.
After years and years of voluntary, painful, expensive, and traumatizing surgery, hormone treatments, and mannerism re-training, a trans man can finally be a man in a man's body, and the only thing that might contradict that is a DNA test revealing they have no Y chromosome. The inverse is true for post-transition trans women, who are women in women's bodies, and the only difference between them and cisgender women is that they have a Y chromosome.
For transgender people, healing looks like staring at the child in a Polaroid photo and validating their need to be what they are inside. To be out and proud and accepted instead of hating it and bottling it all up inside. It looks like men being men and women being women and no one questioning them or treating them as lesser beings.
You've probably even seen post-transition transgender people walking about and never looked twice; a fully-transitioned person has a body and mannerisms exactly like you'd expect their gender to have. Unfortunately, most transgender people are like me: confronted with such an uphill battle filled with hardship and debt, that we'd rather pretend we're our assigned gender.
Hopefully, you now see that one can't pretend to be transgender. A cisgender man can dress in drag, and if he's very good, he can pass as a woman, but that won't change with these proposed laws. Indefinitely in the past, today, and indefinitely in the future, a predator could, can, and will be able to disguise themselves to go places they're not allowed. As she says, herself: "It already happens. Just Google Jason Pomares, Norwood Smith Burnes, or Taylor Buehler, for starters."
These proposed laws make it okay for trans-men to use men's bathrooms and trans-women to use women's bathrooms. They do not make it okay for men to enter women's bathrooms and vice versa, and they do not make it okay for anyone to rape anyone. That hasn't changed, it's not changing, and it won't change. If the type of man who would pretend to be a woman in order to gain access to the women's bathroom sees that these policies are not passed, he is not hindered. If he sees that they are passed, he is not helped. None of this is a "free pass" for predators. None of this forces daughters to be exposed to male forms before they're ready. This is only to allow people to act normal and fit in with the rest of society.
Sexual predators are not people. They're worthless slimebags who lost their humanity somewhere in lust and made a conscious decision that counteracting this lust was a bad idea, and giving into it was a good idea, no matter how atrocious they behaved towards real people. These animals will not change their ways no matter what laws are put in place, nor what ones are not.
Transgender people are people. They're humans. All they want is to be treated like other humans. All a trans man wants is to be a man. Remember that story about a decade ago, about the "first male pregnancy"? He didn't want that story to come out. He moved to a different state and made new friends who just saw him as a man. When he became pregnant, he told his drinking buddies he just gained a beer gut. Someone outed him and he was forced to tell the world this thing he hated about himself, and that's what transgender people fear most.