Trans-Panic Stirring over Public Restroom Usage
Are your women and children at risk for sexual assault in the public restrooms?
I'm writing this to shed some light on a recent situation that has brought a great problem to light: Transphobia. But first, let's break it down for people who don't really know what a transgender person actually is because there seems to be a lot of people who assume that a trans-person is just "some pervert in a dress," and that's not the case.
Transgender is a term used to describe people whose gender identity differs from what the sex the doctor marked on their birth certificate. Now I know what you're thinking: What's the difference? Isn't it the same thing?No, no it's not. The simplest answer to this is sex is the biological gender that you were born, and it's usually male or female (this, of course, doesn't include the intersex individuals, which make up a super small percentage of the world's population, about 1.7 percent). A person's gender identity is a person's internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman (or both, neither, or anything combination of the two, if the person so chooses). One cannot force a person's gender identity in the same way that one cannot choose their sexuality.
Many transgender people are prescribed hormones by their doctors, and some even undergo surgeries. But not all transgender people can or will take those steps, and it's super important to know that being transgender is not dependent upon medical procedures or even dressing a certain way.
Now, there is a huge concern regarding which bathroom a transgender person should use, and many of the right-wing conservatives say that if you're born a man, you use the men's room, and more often than not, a transgender person is harassed outside and inside of the bathroom just for being who they are. A staggering 63 percent of transgender people report being harassed, assaulted, or being denied entrance to the bathroom. The rumor churning is that "We must protect our children from perverts who would abuse this law to assault our women and children."
This is the worst possible argument for bathroom usage that there could be. The sexual assault statistics have not seen an increase since the laws have been passed to allow transgender people to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. In fact, since 1993, sexual assault, in general, has seen a 49 percent decrease, dropping from over 9.7 million sexual assaults per year down to around 4.4 million sexual assaults per year.
If sexual assault, rape, and harassment are the issue, let's discuss the statistics on that.
Approximately four out of five rapes were committed by someone the victim knew. Eight-two percent of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger. That breakdown is as follows: 47 percent it was a friend or acquaintance, 25 percent it was intimate (as in a lover, husband, etc.), and five percent it was relatives.
Approximately 50 percent of all rape/sexual assault incidents were reported by victims to have occurred within one mile of their home or at their home. The breakdown is as follows: seven percent take place in school, 13 percent take place at the home of a friend, neighbor, or relative, and 18 percent take place in a public area, such as a commercial venue, parking lot, or park.
A staggering 93 percent of juvenile victims (ages 11-19) report knowing their attacker. The breakdown is as follows: 34.2 percent were family members and 58.7 percent were acquaintances or friends of the family.
Forty-four percent of victims are under the age of 18. Eighty percent of victims are under age 30.
What happens to a victim after a rape or sexual assault has occurred? Victims are three times more likely to suffer from depression, six times more likely to suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol, 26 times more likely to abuse drugs, and four times more likely to be suicidal or have suicidal thoughts.
What does a rapist/assaulter look like? The statistics behind that are staggering as well:
- The average age of a rapist is 31 years old.
- 52 percent are white.
- 22 percent of imprisoned rapists report that they are married.
- In one in three sexual assaults, the perpetrator was intoxicated—30 percent with alcohol, four percent with drugs.
The worry of the "abuse of the NDOs (Non-Discriminating Orders)" and the fact that a sexual predator will use it to go into the bathroom and assault someone has no proof behind it. In fact, in the 35-year history of the use of NDOs, there has only been ONE case of that happening, and it happened in Canada. Sexual predators do not need to pretend to be transgender to exploit a law and assault someone, as the statistics show.
This fear also pairs in with victim blaming and slut shaming, which are a huge part of rape culture. What is rape culture, you ask? It is defined as "behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, sexual objectification, trivializing rape, denial of widespread rape, refusing to acknowledge the harm caused by some forms of sexual violence, or some combination of these." The notion of rape culture has been used to describe and explain behaviors within social groups, including prison rape, and in conflict areas where war rape is used as psychological warfare. Entire societies have been alleged to be rape cultures.
What is victim blaming? This is where people assume that the victim is at fault for facilitating a rape. It is common to hear things like "She shouldn't have been wearing that" or "Was she drinking?" or "She was flirting with him, though." The most common emotional responses to sexual harassment, battering, and rape are guilt, fear, powerlessness, shame, betrayal, anger, and denial. Guilt is often the first and deepest response. Many women hear from their parents "Boys will be boys, so girls must take care'—the message behind that being that women can avoid unwanted male attention if they are "careful enough."
Now what about slut shaming? Slut shaming is the act of criticizing a woman for her real or presumed sexual activity, or for behaving in ways that someone thinks are associated with her real or presumed sexual activity. It has become a huge problem for women who enjoy sex, even those in sex-related fields, to report rape, due to the fear that their supposed "promiscuity" will be used against them and authorities will disregard their report of sexual assault.
Here are some truths about the victims of a sexual assault that you should be aware of:
- It is NEVER the victim's fault. Regardless of what they were wearing, what they were drinking, what they were doing, what they were saying, it is NOT the victim's fault. Ever.
- Women and men (and every gender identity in between) can be the victim of sexual assault. One in six women are the victims of a sexual assault in her lifetime, and one in 33 men are victims of a sexual assault in his lifetime.
So what does all of this mean? It means you, as a reader, have nothing to fear from a transgender person. Go to the bathroom, pee, poop, whatever, and then wash your hands and leave. If you know what another person's genitals look like in the bathroom, then YOU are the one doing something illegal, and in fact, YOU are the sexual assaulter, or as the proper term for that is, VOYEUR. You are harassing someone in the bathroom because they don't conform to your view of what a traditional "man" or "woman" looks like.
Transgender people are just regular people. They do things like everyone else does. They know their sex. They know their gender. They are diverse, and each person makes a unique decision about the life they want to lead. They are human beings, and there is no "real" way to be anything.
So what do you do if you meet someone and they say they are transgender?
Ask them what they prefer to be called. Call them that. Or use their name, out of respect for their personal choices. Do not ask them offensive questions like "Have you had the surgery?" or "Are you gay or what?" as those are very harmful.
Above all else, do NOT be afraid to use the restroom with a transgender person. They're not there to rape anyone, they're there to pee/poop. If you're actually afraid of someone harming your children, worry about the sex offenders using the bathrooms with your little boys, not the people who "look" different from you.
I get that people fear what they do not understand, and this can breed a lot of hatred. But please, if you are well informed of an issue, you will have no reason to fear it. Read up, educate yourselves, and please, please, please PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEEEEEEASE do not harass someone in the bathroom. Go in there, do your business, and MIND YOUR OWN.
A. S. Alexander
P.S. What someone does with their life is none of your business. Just saying.