A Solution in Search of a Problem

The North Carolina legislature recently passed, and the governor signed, a bill requiring transsexuals to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender as listed on their birth certificate.

To be clear what we're talking about, transgender people are those whose gender identity does not coincide with their anatomy at birth. So let's see what would happen without this law. There are two cases to consider.

First, suppose a person with the anatomy of a woman, but identifies as a man enters the men's bathroom. There are both urinals and stalls available. But urinals are useless to such a person. So they use a stall, and nobody is the wiser.

Second, suppose a person with the anatomy of a man, but who identifies as a woman, enters the women's bathroom. Here there are only stalls, so that's what the person uses. Again, nobody is the wiser.

At first blush, it seems that the North Carolina government has undertaken to solve a problem that isn't a problem.

Now let's think about how this law is to be enforced. Will there be a monitor in front of every bathroom in North Carolina? Will potential users of that bathroom be required to display their genitalia to such monitor in order to use the bathroom? Or will everyone in North Carolina be required to carry their birth certificate with them at all times in order to be able to use bathrooms? This seems like an incredible intrusion on peoples' lives.

The proponents of the law claim that it is aimed at preventing assaults in bathrooms. That is certainly a worthy goal. However, it must be pointed out that such assaults can (and do) occur regardless of the gender of the perpetrator and the victim. There is no reason to think that transgender people are more likely to be a perpetrator than anyone else.

So what is the North Carolina government aiming to accomplish? It seems that the goal is to stigmatize this small group of people. Perhaps it is because such people are unusual and upsetting to some. But this bathroom law seems unrelated to any real problem any real person may have.

It must be difficult to be transgender. First, there is the personal turmoil in sorting out the discrepancy between one's anatomy and one's feelings. Second, there's dealing with all the social issues that then ensue. Transgender people deserve our compassion and support as they find their way. The North Carolina state government has gratuitously added to their burden.