Profile image
By Center for a Stateless Society
Contributor profile | More stories
Story Views

Last Hour:
Last 24 Hours:

Laws Won’t Keep Bathrooms Safe

Thursday, April 14, 2016 19:34
% of readers think this story is Fact. Add your two cents.

(Before It's News)

(CW: Discussions of transphobia and sexual abuse)

The Washington Post recently reported on a South Carolina bill introduced by Senator Lee Bright who claims, “I don’t believe transgender people are pedophiles,” but, “I think grown adult men would use this as protection to violate women in the restroom.”

Like many others, Bright fails to understand that non-discrimination laws aren’t meant to protect against assault nor do they need to. In states where non-discrimination laws have been instituted, men who used them as an excuse to harass or assault women would still be legally liable for their actions.

Besides, there are many laws that all of us “take advantage of” every single day, harming others in the process. This harm doesn’t automatically make the intent behind the law wrong-headed and it doesn’t mean we should punish those who had nothing to do with the harm by depriving them of their rights. In other words, the transgender community shouldn’t suffer the consequences of pedophiles and sexual predators, especially not if you claim you don’t think they are those kinds of people.

The Post also notes that when U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles was asked about cases in which transgender folks verbally or physically assaulted othere. He responded simply, “I can find none.” Nettles also noted that South Carolina already has laws to address “assault and battery.” This response, while helpful, doesn’t go far enough.

Arguments for discrimination against transgender individuals often presume that laws make us safe. But ultimately what keeps people from harming each other is their own internal sense of right and wrong. A ubiquitous though minor example is jaywalking.

Individuals will abridge or ignore the law altogether so long as doing so won’t harm other people. This is a commonsense approach that people have taken on a much larger scale; for instance, widespread use of marijuana despite its illegality.

If cis people want to be safer from predators, they need to understand that most predators aren’t dressing up so they can assault people. They’re much more likely to be people you know. And if you’re worried about strangers and children, the US Justice of Department reports that only 10% of sexual predators are strangers to the victim-child.

Those concerned with safety under non-discrimination laws should also consider the general safety of the transgender community.

ThinkProgress cites a study by the Williams Institute in 2013 focusing on transgender folks, which concluded,  “an overwhelming majority — 70 percent — had experienced some sort of negative reaction when using a bathroom.”

These reactions ranged from verbal harassment, denial of restroom us, and even physical assault in 9% of the cases.

ThinkProgress says that all of this occurred “in spite of the fact that DC’s enforcement regulations contain “the strongest language in the country in regard to gender-segregated public facilities” to protect trans people from just these sorts of issues.”

Neither Bright’s law nor non-discrimination laws are not guarantees of safety. In fact, nothing is a guarantee of safety. All we can hope to do is optimize relative safety, but the state is hardly the best tool for that. The overwhelming majority of safeguards are of the non-state variety. For the state is organization that has historically been captured by privileged groups to oppress marginalized ones.

Specifically, campaigns that unify transgender and allies like #IllGoWithYou are much more effective. That’s because these forms of solidarity rest on local and individual knowledge about their communities and personal circumstances. This gives them a bigger edge when responding to transphobia in their lives, far better than relying on malleable pieces of paper.

Laws are made by bureaucrats, largely if not entirely cis, who have little to no experience with the oppression that trans people go through. So even when the “best” sorts of laws are made by the state they are often woefully unprepared to tackle oppression that we as trans folks go through every day.

For the trans community in particular the state has been woefully inadequate at defending our rights.

And at worst it’s been our enemy.

Let’s never forget that.

The Center for a Stateless Society ( is a media center working to build awareness of the market anarchist alternative


Report abuse


Your Comments
Question   Razz  Sad   Evil  Exclaim  Smile  Redface  Biggrin  Surprised  Eek   Confused   Cool  LOL   Mad   Twisted  Rolleyes   Wink  Idea  Arrow  Neutral  Cry   Mr. Green

Total 1 comment
  • Laws may help women feel safe using the “Women’s Washroom” without the violation of Men entering and demanding Urinals for their own use.

    There is “No Problem” with “Transgenders” using designated washrooms as all have private stalls

Top Stories
Recent Stories



Email this story
Email this story

If you really want to ban this commenter, please write down the reason:

If you really want to disable all recommended stories, click on OK button. After that, you will be redirect to your options page.