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Houston, We Have a Problem


Houston, We Have a Problem

Chase Strangio

“No men in women’s bathrooms.”

Those five words animated a campaign based in fear and deception that used anti-trans rhetoric to take down an equal rights ordinance in Houston, Texas, which protected 15 classes of people from discrimination.


This is a complicated issue. I fully support transgender people. There is only one person who can determine what ones sexual identity is, and that is each individual person. The rules regarding women's rest rooms are to protect women against sexual predators. There is no way to accurately distinguish a transgender person from a sexual predictor using transgender identification to enter women's rest rooms. The author of this article said that this has not happened. Common sense will tell you that it will. To protect women the rule has to stand, If you have a penis you go to one facility, if you have a vagina you go to the other. It is a difficult situation. I do realize that transgender people can be harassed, ridiculed, and even assaulted when using men's rooms. I wish we lived in a more loving world. A world that could appreciate,enjoy, and celebrate our wonderful adversities.


You can't rely on common sense in issues like this when our common sense is informed by generations of dogmatic prejudice.

What evidence is there that women can't be left alone in the same room as men without being assaulted? "Common sense" tells us that sexual assault isn't something that just happens if a woman is alone in the same room as a man. What about elevators? What about offices?

"Common sense" tells me that if a man intends to rape someone, the clothing of the stick figure on the bathroom door isn't likely to act as a tremendous deterrent either way. Sexual assault can happen in all kinds of places. I don't see any reason why we should think it would happen more in bathrooms than anywhere else, or why would-be predators would be stopped in their tracks by a "no boys allowed" sign.

There are, however, some real concrete and tangible reasons why bathrooms should be non-gendered. Like, for example, the fact that trans people feel it would make them safer. And they would probably know.


" I don't see any reason why we should think it would happen more in bathrooms than anywhere else." Police records show that public rest rooms are the most likely place for sex crimes to be committed. In NYC, where we had separate men and women facilities, the instance of sexual assaults was so high in public rest rooms that the city closed most of the restroom in the subway system. To say that everyone would get along well in unisex facilities is wishful thinking. Aside from sex crimes, most women do not want men coming into their private area and they feel violated when they do. It is true that sex crimes can be committed anywhere, but the facts show that they happen more frequently in certain locations.


Transgender Women are not men.


Fair enough, but that kind of speaks to my point. It's already a problem, so how can the solution to the problem be to maintain the status quo? It obviously wouldn't deter a sexual predator who was or wasn't "allowed" in any particular bathroom, so why continue excluding trans people, who are regularly beaten and murdered in bathrooms?

My point is that I don't see how having gender neutral bathrooms would put women more at risk when they are already at risk in segregated bathrooms because obviously someone who is going out of their way to assault someone isn't going to care what the sign on the door says. However, trans people are regularly victims of spontaneous assault for being in places where they are deemed not to be belong.

I don't know how "most women feel", but a lot of women are transphobic, too. Attitudes change with cultural practice, one doesn't follow the other.

@LibWingofLibWing I think @JohnJCoghlan was referring to my suggestion that bathrooms should be gender neutral, I don't think he meant to say that trans women are men.


Yes I understand what you are saying. I hope they can come up with something that can accommodate everyone. Changing bathroom rules can have problems as I mentioned above but it can also have benefits. It is a subject that should be talked about.


The total number of transgender people can't be large compared to non-trans people. Already many places have "family" restrooms, which are for single family use and are lockable. Such private restrooms, if more widely available, could satisfy the needs of transgender people.



The solution, in my view, is to make it easier for those who've transitioned to change their legal sex, similar to changing one's legal name. Right now too many poor Trans people can't afford the fees, those fees should be waved for the poor. Also some states will only allow the legal sex change once one has had gender confirmation surgery. Since many can't afford it and since those who can have to live in their target gender for at least a year to qualify, this not allowing the correct legal sex is a hardship that should be undone. I would suggest that a decision to permanently transition and for adolescents using puberty blockers and legal adults using hormone replacement therapy should be enough criteria to enact a legal sex change in identification. Children underage should also be able to legally transitioned, but it would be revokable at puberty if they don't elect to use puberty blockers.

Then Trans people will have the right documentation. Those with the right legal sex on their ID should be allowed to use the restroom of their gender.

This should answer the objection of opponents that people who aren't Trans will pretend that they are.

Those Trans people who don't identify hopefully could be comfortable in the restroom of their legal gender, even though they don't identify with it or the opposite one. For those who don't, the family restroom would be very helpful. But most Trans people do identify with one side of the binary, just not the one they were assigned at birth.


This is not acceptable for most Trans people. It is basically saying, "You are not a woman (or a man), you don't get to be treated as a woman (or a man) by society."


And what if a significant section of women (who are not transgender) do not feel comfortable in that setting with transgender women? Don't their feelings count? Why is it necessary to limit the type of restrooms to only two?
Gender reassignment surgery or hormone treatment does not change one's genetic make-up. That is a fact that needs to be remembered.



I'm not a trans person, but that seems unfair to me. How many establishments, realistically, are going to be installing third bathrooms?

Most bathrooms in cafes and restaurants are single-occupant only. There is absolutely no justification for these types of bathrooms to be gendered. Plenty of places also have common non-gendered bathrooms. I don't get what the problem is. If you're in there alone, it makes no difference. If you aren't in there alone, I don't see how it's different from being in any other kind of public place. It's all just a puritan hangover.


That's just straight up anti-trans bullshit. What does your genetic makeup have to do with bathrooms? Public bathrooms like we're talking about have been around for what, maybe 200 years?

What if most white people did not feel comfortable sitting next to Black people on buses or in restaurants? Don't their feelings count? What about their genetic makeup??

"Why is it necessary to limit the type of restrooms to only two?"

It isn't. There should only be 1 type. If you want to add "family" that's fine, if you want families to use them. Trans women view themselves and want to be view as women, so they would like to use the women's bathroom. Not the Other bathroom. That's the point.