Most of the opinion pieces I’ve read about America’s current spate of transphobic “bathroom bills” employ the same handful of criticisms. To wit:
- The laws discriminate against an already-marginalized group.
- The laws are especially harmful to young people coming to grips with their own trans identities.
- Forcing trans men and trans women to visit restrooms that align with the sex they were assigned on their birth certificates invites more confusion than legislators have bargained for.
- There are no documented cases of anyone ever misusing trans-friendly bathroom policies to harass women.
And less frequently:
- These hateful pieces of legislation do nothing to strengthen sexual assault laws. Sexual assault was, is, and will remain illegal, no matter where it takes place. If right-wing legislators really want to protect people against predators, there are far more effective ways to go about it than targeting trans people.
All important points, to be sure.
But what I find weird and, frankly, downright offensive in these discussions is the appalling, retro stereotypes they perpetuate. The proponents of these bills/laws are usually men, who talk about women as if (a) they weren’t in the room, and (b) they were completely incapable of identifying and defending themselves against sexual predators.
It’s as if they all stepped out of a 1950s TV drama (or an early season of Mad Men), featuring women who are presumed helpless until proven otherwise.
The parallels between those sorts of views and the opinions held by certain religions–including conservative strains of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam–are alarming. In both, men can’t control themselves around women, and women can’t fend off the advances of wanton men.
Do politicians like Pat McCrory and Ted Cruz really think women are that weak? And just as importantly: do they really think all men are prone to rape at the merest whiff of opportunity?
That’s some fucked-up worldview, that is.
When the fans of these bills start freaking out about ne’er-do-well women invading men’s rooms, bent on molesting dudes, give me a call.