What are we doing to keep yetis out of public restrooms?
I ask merely for information. Apparently, if North Carolina’s HB2 (and the other laws like it in the works in other states) are anything to go on, we are all about passing real laws to counter imaginary threats. These “bathroom bills” focus mainly on the myth of the bathroom predator, a grown man who uses laws written to protect transgender people to burst into women’s restrooms and commit violent acts. Never mind that this ominous bogeyman, evoked by Ted Cruz and other defenders of such bills, has yet to be spotted in the wild. (As the New York Times editorialized, “Proponents of so-called bathroom bills, which have been introduced in state legislatures across the country, have peddled them by spuriously portraying transgender women as potential rapists. That threat exists only in the imagination of bigots. Supporters of the measures have been unable to point to a single case that justifies the need to legislate where people should be allowed to use the toilet.”)
But why stop at one myth? We must keep all dangerous mythical creatures as far away from bathrooms as possible.
As long as we do not put up unicorn netting and station a virgin outside every public restroom, no one is safe from unicorn attacks. Think of your sons! Think of your uncles! Would you want your uncle using a restroom into which a unicorn could come bursting at any time?
Why aren’t we doing more to keep basilisks away from our facilities? The second you even look at one, you’re doomed.
Do you want your child to be using the same restroom as the ghost of John Wayne Gacy? I thought not. Where are our ghost buffers?
How can we prevent Slenderman from sidling up to the urinal right next to you, flanked by a pair of dragons?
What about gorgons? What if a gorgon were to get into a public restroom with your daughter? One glance, and she could turn to stone! As long as there are no guards with reflective shields stationed outside public restrooms, who is to say that your daughter is not in a bathroom with a gorgon RIGHT NOW?
Every door with a handle is one more thing that can be yanked open by that Escaped Killer With A Hook Arm, or pushed open by a Psychopath Disguised As A Clown Statue Whom The Babysitter Just Managed To Escape.
And as long as our public restrooms are not protected by Hercules, hydras can get into them. Do you know how difficult it is to kill a hydra once it has gotten loose in your bathroom? For every head you cut off, two grow in its place. You have to singe it with fire if you want to make any headway at all.
Some point out that the best protection against mythical threats is — the fact that they do not exist.
But why take any chance?
What protections do we have in place to ensure that, at any moment, the monster Grendel may not come stalking forth into the men’s restroom and drag away a handful of the king’s finest warriors?
The idea that laws protecting trans people’s access to public restrooms will somehow endanger others is a myth. But you know what else is a myth? Zeus. What are we doing to keep Zeus out of public restrooms? He can turn into a sunbeam or take the form of a swan and sneak in at any time. We must brick up all the walls and seal every place where light might enter.
What about the real people who want to use the restroom? Well, what about them? What do you care more about, real people who might potentially be hurt, or absolute security against an imaginary threat?
But myths have consequences.
As transgender activist Candis Cayne told CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield, “What I do know is that it will stop people from being comfortable in this society. . . . You leave your house every day. You want to go shopping. You want to go to the post office, but if you have to go to the bathroom along the way, you’re not allowed to. It’s a bill that’s really kind of making people in my community have to stay home, have to not be a part of our society.”
The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence against women noted that “Transgender people already experience unconscionably high rates of sexual assault—and forcing them out of facilities consistent with the gender they live every day makes them vulnerable to assault. ”
And these laws are about more than just access to restrooms. North Carolina’s also rolled back other non-discrimination provisions for LGBT people. Real people stand to be hurt by these imaginary threats.
North Carolina is already facing economic repercussions. As other states take up similar provisions they should remember: What they’re keeping out of their bathroom is a chimera, but the business they’re keeping out of their state, and the embarrassment and danger of enshrining imaginary terrors into law? That’s real.