Let’s think through this bathroom issue, step by step

Let’s try to think through the Great Transgender Freakout of 2016, using an adult attitude and the sense that the Good Lord gave us. And let’s begin with two basic facts.

1.) Transgender and transsexual people exist. They walk among us and have done so forever, many times without drawing notice. U.S. military history dating back to the Revolutionary War documents the presence of women who dressed, passed and fought as male soldiers. It has also been a long-accepted and at times even sacred reality in many Native American cultures. In short, this is not a new phenomenon.

2.) Like the rest of us, transgender people have to use a bathroom sometimes.

With those two realities established, the question now under consideration is which restroom they should use when nature calls. You may not like to hear it or think about it, but the odds are strong that you have shared a public restroom with a transgender person many times already. They’ve been there all along, maybe right in the next stall, not because they are predators but because that is the least disruptive, least dangerous and most appropriate choice for them to make.

Let’s imagine two scenarios that are everyday experiences for transgender people. In Scenario A, a biological woman who identifies as a male, who dresses as a male, who has the body language, haircut and mannerisms of a male needs to use the restroom. He is not a sexual predator; like every other living creature on this planet, he simply has to relieve himself.

Which restroom should he use? Which choice is most potentially disruptive and dangerous? He can walk into the men’s room, walk into a stall and probably pass unnoticed. Or this person who is male by all outward appearances can walk instead into the women’s restroom and cause a freakout. Is that the scene that we want to require, by law?

Now flip the situation. In Scenario B, our person in need of a bathroom is someone who was born male but who identifies as and dresses as a woman, with all the mannerisms of a woman. Imagine that person walking into a men’s room. Will others be comfortable in her presence? More importantly, given the history of violence against gay, lesbian and transgender people, will that female-identifying person be safe?

The common counter-argument is that male sexual predators might dress as women to gain access to women’s restrooms. “We are hearing reports where this open-door policy has been implemented, that voyeurism and sexual exploitation have occurred,” Republican state senators wrote in a letter to Gov. Nathan Deal and Attorney General Sam Olens. “… Predators will seize the opportunity to pretend to be transgender in order to gain access to women’s locker rooms, bathrooms, and dorms?”

The problem with that fear-driven theory is that the danger that it describes already exists. Sexual predators already don’t care whether it’s against the law to sneak into bathrooms. They don’t need a change in restroom policy to “allow” them to do what their personal demons already drive them to do. The real question is whether a change in restroom policy will somehow exempt them from prosecution for their crimes, and in trying to think it through, I see no logical basis or evidence for that far-fetched claim.