Bathroom Bills Aren't About Religious Freedom

Close up of bathroom symbol
Close up of bathroom symbol

This Wednesday, North Carolina passed the most dangerous piece of anti-LGBT legislation in the country, restricting cities from passing nondiscrimination laws and preventing trans people from using bathrooms that represents their gender identity. All of this has been done in the name of so-called "religious freedom."

It was just moments after Skye Thompson, a transgender teen who shared his heart-aching testimony to the North Carolina legislature, that onlookers were able to see first-hand the religious-based bigotry surrounding this process. Skye talked about the bullying he has experienced during his life due to his gender identity and fear about what the now-passed North Carolina legislation would do to him in his everyday life. Moments later, John, a youth pastor in the chamber, uttered these words: "I will be a homophobic bigot until the day that I die."

John believes scripture tells him there can only be male and female: "If God didn't give you access to a male or female bathroom via your anatomy, neither should we give you access via ordinance or legislation." This is wrong.

Earlier that day John's office at the Christian Academy he works at received a phone call calling him a homophobic bigot. John embraces that title however, because he believes this bill is about protecting his family from sexual predators. John has every right to protect his family from sexual predators. We all do. Where John and the state of North Carolina are wrong is conflating sexual predators with the intention of this bill's objective to ensure that transgender people have a place to use the bathroom in public spaces.

Charlotte, North Carolina passed an ordinance last month that allowed individuals to use public facilities that aligned with their gender identity. The win was short lived as North Carolinian senators vowed to pass legislation that repealed those rights. Last night, they succeed passing said legislation in a special assembly that cost taxpayers $42,000. The legislation not only repealed the rights gained by Charlotte's ordinance but also allows discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. It even goes further than affecting the LGBT community. This legislation eliminates recourse from anyone fired from their job based on race, religion, age, or ability.

The worry, so many claimed, was that "sexual predators" would use this law to enter bathrooms. There hasn't been a single instance of this actually happening. This "bathroom predator" myth has been thoroughly debunked. And yet, many claimed it is due to their sincerely held religious beliefs that they could not allow trans-inclusive bathrooms.

North Carolina passed the most dangerous piece of anti-LGBT legislation in the country that might provoke violence towards transgender people, all in the name of so-called "religious freedom." How exactly will binary gendered bathrooms threaten the religious freedom of others? I'm not certain. Neither are the folks who are claiming transgender individuals using the bathroom infringes on their religious freedom.

In order to believe transgender identities are somehow sinful, you would have to invent scripture that just isn't there. This would also require one to conflate gender and sex either lacking the knowledge that they are not one in the same or just refusing to believe the medical community. You would also have to believe that sex is binary, while ignoring the biological reality of intersex individuals. You would need to also forget Jesus' words of praise to the gender minorities in biblical times. Of course, this doesn't even begin to cover how bathroom usage is somehow part of North Carolinians religious practices.

These bathroom bills aren't about religious freedom. These bills are actually ignorance manifesting itself in transphobia. It's clear North Carolina legislators not only don't understand what it means to be transgender but they also aren't aware on how to back their anti-trans stance in scripture.

North Carolina spent an extensive amount of taxpayer money, while jeopardizing an estimated $4.5 billion in Title IX funding, to legislate transphobia under the guise of religious freedom. So much time and effort has been spent to further marginalize an already marginalized group of people, who just want to use the restroom like everyone else.