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  • Jamie Harrell, MBA

The dreaded bathroom debate: Liberal Stalked by Burly Man

Friday March 31, 2017 is Transgender Day of Visibility. More than likely, you’ve never given much thought to transgender rights; most people never have to deal with such deep introspection to figure out who they are, let alone question what bathroom they should use. Maybe you’ve seen a meme on Facebook, read an or article or two at best, maybe you know who Caitlin is, but it’s possible you’ve never met a trans person before… that you know of.

Yet the debate as to whether or not transgender people should be permitted to use a public bathroom that is consistent with their gender identity has been thrust into our living rooms through hate campaigns and discriminatory laws such as North Carolina’s HB2. I’d like to encourage you to get the facts, and understand that there is so much more to the discussion than what you might get from a seemingly innocuous article like this one, A Man in the women’s restroom at Disneyland. (@thegetrealmom)

But the statistics tell a dramatically different story than the fear-filled headlines. Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Organizations Debunk ‘Bathroom Predator Myth’:

“Over 200 municipalities and 18 states have nondiscrimination laws protecting transgender people’s access to facilities consistent with the gender they live every day. None of those jurisdictions have [sic] seen a rise in sexual violence or other public safety issues due to nondiscrimination laws. Assaulting another person in a restroom or changing room remains against the law in every single state.”

But when you read the articles advocating against bathroom access for trans people, you may feel “common sense” telling you that bathroom discrimination in the name of “safety of the children” is right. But the truth is, articles like this one are part of an extremely well orchestrated campaign of psychological warfare against transgender people; they prey on your protective instinct as a parent and play to your fear of the the unknown. Whether this author is a part of that or has been swept up in the hysteria is anyone’s guess – I don’t know her. But the not-so-subliminal messaging is out there. Sometimes it’s so subtle, and the misdirection and narrative seems to make so much sense, but rest assured most stories like this are written intentionally to make you question if you are safe in the same world that transgender people occupy.

Why else mention the man was large and burly, or his choice in clothing? Was it the Laker’s jersey that made him seem so dangerous? I’ve met 6’5″ bearded teddy bears who are wonderful dads… who happen to like basketball and take their kids to Disney too. And I’ve also met 5’6″ monsters. Plain and simple, this is fear mongering at it’s best. Writers of stories like this will continue to say “It’s not that we’re afraid of transgender people, it’s the child molester or rapist that will take advantage of the access – that’s what we’re scared of.” And in just that one sentence, said over and over again in different ways by different people including those who have been inadvertently pulled into the fray, they’ve planted the seeds of fear, and created the association of transgender people with perverts. Intentionally.

Reading this story makes me want to channel my inner Paul Harvey. What’s the rest of the story? Was this actually a protective father uncomfortable in a foreign space? Was he waiting for his 5 year old to get out of the restroom herself? Was he waiting for and concerned about his ailing mother who was suffering heat exhaustion? “He stood off to the side looking smug… untouchable.” Maybe he was actually quite embarrassed himself to be there too, and was trying to shrink into invisibility so he wouldn’t make you feel uncomfortable? How did the story end? They don’t tell us, but instead leave it for us to imagine the worst. Most definitely this story didn’t end with his arrest for being there for nefarious purposes; the author of this tale would surely have let that be known if so.

My request to you – instead of relying on emotional reaction to well written stories such as this one – please get the facts and statistics. “All the data and all the evidence shows protecting transgender people only increase public safety.”

Oh by the way, to the author of the original story. I’m sorry you were uncomfortable. But I bet the 4 or 5 trans people you’ve met in the restroom (and countless others you didn’t notice) were equally uncomfortable too; particularly if they knew you liken them to ducks with beaks and feathers glued on. I’m sorry that your story is being taken advantage of by the haters. Now their headlines read that you were “STALKED BY BURLY MAN“. Kristen… you’ve been had, pulled hopefully unwittingly into their narrative of transgender people as perverts. They won. They won because you didn’t read the science, didn’t look for the statistics, even though the truth is out there. Literally everywhere. Including the dubiously reputable… National Geographic.

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