Ran across this editorial in the Charlotte Observer that just might get you to say – “Obama has really screwed us!” This was written in regards to the NC HB 2 bill otherwise known as the “Bathroom Bill”.
What happens when biological males identify as a females use women’s bathrooms?
The question is at the core of a struggle – and a suddenly intense debate – over the rights of transgender individuals. That battle transcends what happens in bathrooms, certainly, but the issue has prompted a wave of unnecessary fears and unnecessary laws, including North Carolina’s HB 2.
This week, the Obama administration tried to get in front of the clash, first with a Department of Justice lawsuit over HB 2, then on Friday with a letter to U.S. school districts ordering them to acknowledge and accommodate transgender students. The letter doesn’t carry the weight of law, but it does carry a big stick – the implied withholding of federal dollars from school districts that don’t abide by the administration’s guidelines.
That threat is sure to bring more heat to the bathroom debate, but eventually the decree should have the opposite effect. It will bring acceptance, as these measures do, by showing that the answer to what happens in bathrooms is a lot less fearsome than the question.
Republicans in North Carolina have made the most of those fears, framing HB 2 as a law that protects the safety and privacy of women and children. Those safety issues are political fiction – non-transgender men wouldn’t have been allowed in women’s bathrooms under the Charlotte ordinance that HB 2 killed, and the 200 or so cities with similar ordinances have had no incidents involving bathroom predators.
That leaves the issue of privacy and the oft-stated notion of women and girls sharing bathrooms and locker rooms with someone who has different genitalia. It’s an image that’s uncomfortable even for some who are sympathetic to the transgender cause.
The administration’s letter addresses that uneasiness head on, at least with regards to schools. The letter includes a 25-page attachment detailing “emerging practices” at U.S. districts that already are supporting transgender students. Along with policies on issues such as dress codes and transgender student records, the document provides examples of how districts address the privacy needs of all students in bathrooms and locker rooms.