Recently, Virginia Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William) filed HB 1612, the Physical Privacy Act. His bill didn’t make it far in the legislature this year, but, if it had been enacted, it would have prohibited a person’s entry into “a restroom, changing facility, or private area located in a government building unless such individual is a member of the sex designated to use such restroom, changing facility, or private area.” The bill defined “sex” as “the physical condition of being male or female as shown on an individual’s original birth certificate.”
Predictably, LGBT activists immediately condemned the bill, denouncing it as “hateful and discriminatory.” Marshall justified the bill, explaining that “some guys will use anything to make a move on some teenage girls or women.”
There are few public policy disputes as willfully distorted as the debate over public restrooms and gender identity. Conservatives warn of opportunistic “bathroom predators”; specifically, cisgender men donning women’s clothing to exploit gender-neutral bathroom policies and sexually assault women. The left trivializes the debate as a patently obvious matter of civil rights — as if disagreement exists only because of a Republican obsession with genitals and restroom usage.
Conservatives are closer to the truth.
The left’s insistence that the transgender bathroom fight is akin to black Americans’ struggle for racial equality in the 1960s is a deceptive tactic designed to camouflage the more disagreeable aims of the transgender movement. Among the many differences between issues of race and gender, civil rights activists of yesteryear were not demanding the right to use white restrooms over black restrooms; they were arguing to end racial segregation entirely. Likewise, concerning transgender rights, the left’s ultimate aim is not to institute a Plessy v. Ferguson-compliant bathroom policy; it is to abolish gender distinctions entirely.
Even gender as a spectrum — a construct favored by most leftists — is inadequate, as any spectrum will exclude those identifying outside its limits. The only wholly inclusive construction of gender is one that lacks defined limits and thereby strips gender of all concrete meaning.
Additionally, unlike race, there are differences between men and women (in the biological sense) that even the staunchest disciple of gender socialization theory cannot deny — namely, differences in their respective reproductive capabilities. Men and women, consequentially, are dependent on each other for procreation.
Enter the conservative argument. To be clear: there is no empirical evidence suggesting gender-neutral bathroom laws beget an increase in sexual assault. Just as it is absurd to think a “no guns allowed” sign will stop an active shooter, a bathroom sign or law will not stop predators from sexually assaulting women.
However, this truth may just reflect a resilient social norm that actually protects women. Even in transgender-friendly communities, it remains customary to use restrooms along traditional gender lines. A man would attract suspicion if he tried to access a women’s restroom or locker room (transgender advocates have even capitalized on this social norm to strengthen their position). Thus, even when a gender-neutralizing policy is in effect, traditional gender roles still serve as a deterrent to predatory behavior.
In other words, although gender-inclusive bathrooms themselves will not directly endanger women, society’s broader trend toward gender nullification — and its dissolution of prudent, time-tested boundaries of conduct — will.
I do not want to live in a country where the government subjects people to $250,000 fines for refusing to use gender-neutral pronouns such as “nir,” “vis,” or “ze.” I do not want to vilify Mother’s Day as transphobic or chide basic chivalry as wrongful discrimination.
I want a society that demands intervention when a man follows a little girl into a restroom. I want a culture in which women are not forced to “wait for the man to commit a crime against them” before expressing concern for their safety.
Marshall should not be faulted for wanting the same.
Thomas Wheatley is a regular contributor to All Opinions Are Local. Follow him on Twitter @TNWheatley.