The Charlotte Transgender Bathroom Debate: Why I'm Against "Equal Access"

Recently, a heated discussion took place at the Charlotte City Council.  Up for debate was whether or not the city should grant rights to individuals within the transgender community to have equal access to the public restroom of their preference.

The Issue:

It is argued that "transgender" is a protected "class" of people, and that as such, they should have the same civil rights as everybody else, and that the government and society should not be allowed to discriminate against the people who make up this community.  Thus, under the law, they should be allowed equal access to everything that everybody else gets to access.  This includes places like public restrooms, and in particular, whether or not transgender individuals should be allowed to use the restroom of the gender that they identify with, regardless of their actual sex.

For those of you who may not know, the transgender community is made up of men and women, who feel that they are actually a different gender than the sex they were born.  Thus, even though biologically they were born as a male, internally, they identify themselves as actually being a woman, and vice versa.  

It is argued that as such, that somebody who is transgender should have access to the bathroom of their choice, and the failure to allow them equal access to both male and female bathrooms is a form of civil rights discrimination.  Forcing them to go to a bathroom other than the gender they personally identify with is viewed as fundamentally no different than having bathrooms designated for "blacks only."  

The Typical Argument Against: Sexual Predators

Needless to say, there are quite a few people in Charlotte who are upset about this policy discussion.  Some people argue that allowing transgenders to access the bathroom of their choice will also pave the way to sexual predators (or simply bored teenagers looking to get a rouse) pretending to be transgender, to start hanging out in the bathrooms of their choice, and causing all sorts of "problems."
Arguments like this aren't entirely without merit.  Whether we want to admit it or not, there are some rather perverted things that already happen in public bathrooms.  If you have been an adult long enough, you've probably lived long enough to "hear" (or hear about) sexual activity that takes place in public restrooms.  

Such activity is so frequent, for example, that in the main library in uptown Charlotte, the men's public restrooms have bathroom stall doors that have had the top halves cut off so as to discourage such sexual activity, among other things.  So, while such fear based arguments may be deemed irrational by some, in the real world, we recognize that a lot of awful things go on in public restrooms.  Thus, such fears are not without legitimate merit.

Unfortunately, such "reasonable" arguments will never win the light of day.  And here's why:

Simply put, your "fears" of what awful things might happen in public restrooms will never trump the "feelings" of those who feel "hurt" over such "discriminatory" policies and "civil rights violations."  It will further be argued, your fears are no different than the whites who were afraid of what awful things might happen if whites and blacks had to share the same bathroom or water fountain.  It will be further argued that "perverts" already hang out in public restrooms as it is, and that refusing transgenders access to your restroom will not change this fact.  And ultimately, at the end of the day, you just need to grow up and get over your fears, as your fears don't trump others rights.

And such is a somewhat reasonable argument.  But I don't by it...

My 3 Arguments Against "Equal Access":

In light of such a weighty argument for those who are for this type of policy, I believe we need a stronger counter argument than the typical "fear" driven argument that people put forward.  

My arguments against "equal access" are as follows:
  1. In granting people who identify themselves as transgender access to the bathroom of another sex, such a public policy actually has the effect of creating "reverse discrimination."  For in it, you are granting somebody access to a bathroom that I do not have the right to use simply because I don't identify myself as a transgender individual.  And as such, you are in fact discriminating against me on the basis of my sex and gender identity (or lack thereof).  
  2. Public restrooms are not an issue of "gender," but of "sex."  As the transgender community regularly says, there is a difference between one's "gender" and one's "sex."  One's "sex," it is said, is what you are born with biologically.  It's the issue of whether or not you have a penis or vagina.  One's "gender," on the other hand, is a socially constructed "identity."  Therefore, some transgender individuals have their sex "reassigned" by surgical means, so that their "sex" now agrees with their "gender" identity.  Therefore, no "equal access" law needs to be created, because transgender individuals still have the option of using the public restroom available to their respected sex.
  3. Finally, an argument that slides down the proverbial "slippery slope." If we allow transgender individuals to go to the restroom of their preference, then what about public locker rooms at your local gym?  Should a man who identifies himself as a woman be allowed to use the woman's locker room and take a shower in there, simply because that is the gender they identify with?  If we allow transgender individuals to access the bathroom of their preference, why shouldn't they be allowed to access the shower of their preference?

What about "family restrooms"?:

Some people have suggested that we need to strike up a happy medium, and make public restrooms that are "gender neutral," such as the "family restrooms" that various public facilities make use of. This idea, while not a bad one, at the end of the day won't stand-up to any sort of legal challenges.  It could be argued that forcing somebody who is transgender to go to a "family restroom" if they wish to go one of their preference, would actually be a form of discrimination, and is the equivalent of having a "blacks only" restroom or water fountain.

The only solution:

Having said all of this, I see that there are only two solutions for the city of Charlotte:
  1. Make all public restrooms gender/sex neutral, as they do in some parts of Europe.  
  2. Allow public restrooms to purposefully be places of discrimination on the basis of sex, since there is no actual negative impact on anybody for using either bathroom.
Personally speaking, I am perfectly happy to have bathrooms that continue to discriminate on the basis of sex.  As a guy, I like having restrooms with shorter lines in airports and in stadiums, all thanks to my God-given ability to pee while standing up, and thus, occupying less space because men's rooms are equipped with the "technological wonder" that is the urinal.  Arguably, such makes restrooms as we have much more efficient places, and benefits the common good.

Secondly, requiring all restrooms become gender neutral would require a massive overhaul of all current restroom facilities, and would be a very expensive ordeal to undertake, and simply not practical.  Such could be financially crippling to some private business owners, who cannot afford to redesign their public restrooms.

So... that's my opinion.  What's yours?


  1. My main concern about gender neutral public restrooms is the issue of children. If you have taken young children into restrooms, I am certain you have experienced either your own child or someone else's child, bending down or laying on the floor in order to view the individual inside of a locked stall. As a mother myself, this happened more than once with a child of my own, whether I am using the facilities myself, washing my hands, fixing my hair, makeup or whatever reason I am not holding onto my child to prevent that scenario from happening. As is often stated,children are always curious and although it can be embarrassing for the occupant of the stall if this happens between the same sexes, it normally causes little if any discomfort. Now picture this same scenario with an adult of the opposite sex that has not surgically changed their genital orientation. This can cause the child trauma or at the very least, confusion. I for one would not want any child--excuse my word choice--exposed to this. One way of avoiding this is restructuring stalls with walls and doors without gaps beneath them. I guess women will have to stop using restrooms for grooming purposes so they will never let go of a child's hand to prevent their curiosity getting the best of them. More Family Restrooms could also be a solution but what if the Transgendered individual has children? I agree there needs to be a solution to keep both the Transgender individual safe in restrooms, for example in public schools, and also keep non-Transgender children safe. More unisex single stall restrooms may be the best choice.

  2. You make a good point about discrimination against those who are not "transgender". If the Rainbow Jihad is going to complain about lack of access then logically then the only solution that comports with their position is a "sex neutral" bathroom policy. If we are going to allow just a few guys (or gals) into the opposite chromosome bathroom then it actually would probably be safer if there were more mixes of people in the bathrooms rather than the rare, lone "transgender" individual who is allowed to go into the women's bathroom.

    I prefer your solution of the current "discriminatory" situation but if we're going to go there, then neutral rather than specific to "transgender" is the only solution. Mixed sex access theoretically could produce peer pressure to behave.

    As for the long lines that women can cause, I would simply advocate for urinals that women can use like they have in Europe. People shouldn't generally need to sit down in public restrooms anyway. That's what their bathroom is for at home.