This is NOT about the safety of women and girls

There has been a total uproar over Target’s decision to make their bathrooms a safe place for transgender folks. I’ve heard more angry comments over the Target decision than over HB2 which was astonishing to me. The biggest concern raised in both cases over the bathroom bills is the safety of women and girls and the risk of cisgender men putting on a dress and coming into the bathroom to wage their assault.

If we were really worried about the safety of women and girls in bathrooms then we’d be introducing legislature to keep convicted sex offenders out of public bathrooms. We’d stop victim shaming women for getting assaulted and raped. We’d stop making women pay for rape kits in the hospital. We’d take women seriously when they say they’ve been assaulted. We’d start hearing our young girls when they share stories of assault and objectification. We’d never let a Republican State Representative, who is a threat to women, keep his job and just move him to a different building. The biggest story of the night wouldn’t be Target’s bathroom policy, it would be that the longest standing Speaker of the House molested boys.

This is NOT NOT NOT about the safety of women and girls. It is about lawmakers and others being uncomfortable around transgender individuals. Where do they think transgender individuals have been using the bathroom all these years? We’ve been sharing bathrooms with trans folks forever. 

Criminals are not waiting for the opportunity to put on a dress to go assault someone. They don’t need to wait for that opportunity. They know that women are unlikely to share the assault because they won’t be believed, they’ll be made to feel like they brought it on by what they wore or how they acted or how much alcohol they consumed, or they’ll be humiliated in front of others by having to repeat their story over and over as if they were the criminal. We have a LONG WAY TO GO to protect women and girls from cisgender men who don’t know how to behave but keeping transgender people from the bathroom is about the most ridiculous way to fix this problem that I’ve ever heard.

18 thoughts on “This is NOT about the safety of women and girls

  1. Tracey

    I have to disagree with you. At best I believe that this bill “is not only” about safety of women and girls. The governor warned Charlotte many times that the citizens of NC were not ready for such a step. Part of it naturally is about someone with man parts being in a women’s restroom. The uncomfortable situations it may cause. But as a law enforcement officer, I know this will increase male perverts going into female restrooms. I don’t think there is a care about women being in men’s rooms. That is probably because men are seen to be more able to defend themselves. So you can say it’s not all about women’s safety. But to say it is NOT about women’s safety at all is false. Ask ANY law enforcement officer. You do not see what we see.

    1. Melissa McLaren Post author

      Hi Tracey,
      Thank you for your respectful dialogue. I hear where you are coming from. However, I don’t think we should bar people from the bathroom because some cisgender men are perverts. Keeping transgender individuals out of the bathroom of their affirmed gender has resulted in a lot of violence against THEM. I realize that I’m not a police officer and that I don’t see what you see. However, please listen to these other police officers that don’t share your opinion. In the states where they do allow transgender people to use the bathroom of their affirmed gender, there hasn’t been an increase in the kind of behavior you are describing. A Sheriff in SC has recently publicly stated his opinion that this would be unnecessary and unenforceable.

      If you are concerned about violence happening in restrooms I can tell you that it is happening to transgender individuals. I can’t say that it isn’t happening to women because I’m sure that it is though when I talk to friends who are SANE nurses, the assault comes MORE from assailants who know know their victims instead of random encounters in the bathrooms. But, forcing people like my 10 year old daughter into a men’s bathroom will increase her chance of being assaulted because she looks like a little girl. I understand your concerns because I worry about her. But shouldn’t we be focusing our attention on keeping the real threats out of the bathrooms, the dormitories, the parties, the street, and the playgrounds instead of focusing our attention on a population who is already suffering violence? I want to see real laws that protect women and children. Not laws that are unenforceable and ineffective.

    2. Chris

      Think about what you just said. Think REALLY HARD. The main concern is that opposition to the NC bathroom bill will cause perverts to enter a female restroom, when it’s actually the other way around. The bill itself would make it WAY easier for a man to enter a female restroom undetected because all he has to say is that he’s a transgender female. Opposing such a bill is basically saying that transgendered people can go about doing what they’ve been doing for 100s of years – entering into the bathroom of their identity (which resembles what they look like). A transgender that identifies as a male (who strives to look like a male) would never go into a female restroom and vice versa. That’s why you’ve never had a problem before, why you’ve never noticed before, and why you won’t have any problems, unless such a idiotic bill is passed.

      1. Ellie2000

        First of all, if a man just put on a dress he better be prepare to prove that he is a transgender to the officer. He can’t just claimed to be a transgender without going thru some health care like therapist or psychiatrist. If a person seeking treatment for their gender identity issue and is going out to public to present themselves as a female their therapist will give the transgender person a letter for them to carried in case when they are not passable and if they ever get challenged by authority.

  2. Katie Long

    Hi, I have been trying to think of the right way to argue this for weeks now, and you did it so well!! Thank you! As a rape survivor myself, I think it’s horrible for the same people who could careless about victims rights to use them as their platform for hate. Your piece was eloquent and to the point. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

    1. Melissa McLaren Post author

      Katie, I’m so sorry that happened. I’m horrified that we don’t take rape culture more seriously in our country. I know too many people who have endured some form of sexual assault. I truly value your thoughts on this because it would never be my intent to cause more harm. Thank you for sharing your story.

  3. Crystal P

    Thank you! The guise is “evil trans folk and cis folk claiming to be trans are just lying in wait to rape me and my daughter”. It is just a cover. There are so MANY attrocities hiding beneath the “bathroom issue” that people are NOT seeing. This was a deliberate ploy and I hope people start wak8ng up and REALLY reading the bills like HB2.

    I am so sorry about what was done to you. I am a sexual abuse survivor as well and it takes so long to heal. (((Hugs)))

    Numerous states have laws on the books protecting gender variant people. They have been on the books for years. Officers from those states have come forward and said they have seen no rise in bathroom violence or sexual assaults since the laws were put in place. Think about how many more assaults (and murders) will occur in NC where they have open carry and stand your ground laws. When a transman walks into a woman’s bathroom because he is forced to by law. I have seen numerous men and women from the state of NC comment on this issue “if I see a man in/coming out of the woman’s room I will shoot first and ask questions later!”. These types of laws are NOT protecting ciswomen and girls… there are already laws in place for that. These laws are doing exactly what they were intended to do… cover up the real problems with the laws and to force a minority class of citizens into hiding and/or eliminate them.

  4. Tweet

    Victims of sexual assault do NOT have to pay for a hospital visit or the rape kit in NC, please fact check before you print. This sort of misinformation is what leads to public outcry concerning HB2 and other laws.
    It is impossible to keep sexual offenders and transgenders out of public restrooms, so again do not make this a platform.
    When I speak my mind I am racist, if I keep quiet I am ignorant. Businesses and performers that pull out of NC hurt everyone, including those who believe that HB2 should be revoked. If you believe that HB2 is wrong, move to a state that supports it. Laws will not stop the hatred in this country; conversations, empathy, and compassion will. America wake up and see what we are doing to ourselves and each other!

    1. Melissa McLaren Post author

      Hi Tweet,
      That’s great that victims don’t have to pay for rape kits in NC. I wish that were the case everywhere. I didn’t say that the rape kit issue was singular to NC so I have no plans to edit that statement. I backed up my claims with hyperlinks to show that I’m not spreading misinformation.

      I WILL make this my platform because I am forced to. I would LOVE it if this weren’t an issue but unfortunately, politicians everywhere are spreading lies and inducing fear to discriminate against a marginalized population. It’s not my information that leads to public outcry. I simply pointed out that as a woman, I want real laws to keep me safe. I don’t want laws which make my daughter unsafe. I agree that conversations, empathy, and compassion will help, but until sexual orientation and gender identity is protected BY LAW then I will keep making this my platform.

  5. Terri

    This is the first time I read your blog. I read pages and pages of it. Not because I am the parent of a transgendered child- I’m not. I am a Christian though and I’ve been thrown off by all the changes and cisgender stuff and new laws and bathroom changes. And it’s made me mad. And I don’t understand it. But your words and story have helped me wrap my brain around it and I feel my heart opening and I find myself rooting for you and your daughter. I’m going to process this. Thank you.

    1. Melissa McLaren Post author

      Terri, thank you for your honesty and your willingness to consider our perspective. So many times I feel like people aren’t willing to even consider the struggles my daughter faces. I got choked up reading your response. Thank you for coming to our blog.

  6. Gail Wasmer

    Thank you for saying everything you’ve said! I couldn’t agree with you more on every statement, every point, in your original post and in your comments. Bravo.

  7. Lacy

    I love this! My best friend is trans and I worry about their safety. They would have to use a woman’s bathroom even though they are transiting to a man. I worry about them because they are very sensitive and what people say affect them. I know that people are unkind and will say mean and hurtful things to them.
    I wish this silly law didn’t exist. All it does is enforce that hate is okay. I feel like it would make trans individuals feel like they don’t belong in society. I just can’t wrap my head around why people are so concerned about other people’s privates? All they want to do is use the restroom.
    This was a very well written article. Thank you for sharing this!

  8. Deborah

    A concern that I have not seen addressed yet is what happens to a woman who looks like a man but isn’t transgender in these states that have passed these toiletroom laws. There are many women who do not fit the stereotype of what a female should look like in this society, and a woman who looks like a male is not necessarily a lesbian or transgender.

  9. J

    There have already been instances of cisgender women with more typically masculine features being removed from, or assaulted in, public restrooms – including by law enforcement officers who simply decided that these cisgender women didn’t look “female enough” to be in the washroom that matched both their birth gender assignment AND their gender identity. So it’s not a hypothetical. It’s already happening.

    Incidentally, I’m assuming everyone has already seen this lovely piece of backlash to the Target decision – because it’s even harsher, and even worse for transgender people, than HB2:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *