On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a 70-page brief asking a federal judge to halt North Carolina’s law requiring individuals to use government-run showers, changing rooms, and toilets that correspond with their biological sex. President Obama and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch insist ending sex-specific bathrooms is about the dignity of a marginalized group. But it is really about denying reality and limiting freedom.
After nearly two months of unsuccessful protesting and boycotts from the nation’s most powerful corporations, celebrities, and politicians, North Carolina is refusing to renege over its now-infamous “bathroom bill,” even after making a new, more dangerous enemy in the federal government.
Last month, the DOJ informed Gov. Pat McCrory that North Carolina’s Public Facilities Privacy and Safety Act, or House Bill 2, violates its reinterpretation of federal law about sex parity in education and employment (Titles VII and IX of the Civil Rights Act). The DOJ further warned McCrory that if he didn’t “remedy these violations” by preventing implementation of HB2, the government would take action to ensure compliance—a threat that included withholding billions in federal education funding.
We Don’t Care Who Elected You
The DOJ’s threat was itself an egregious abuse of power, and thankfully McCrory responded by upholding HB2 and filing a lawsuit against the Obama administration, followed by asking a judge to toss the suit in June, as “It would necessitate restructuring the operations of state educational institutions, including the manner in which funding is equitably allocated, athletic teams are organized, and student safety is ensured.”
McCrory has correctly noted that Uncle Sam is once again ”bypassing Congress by attempting to rewrite the law and set restroom policies for public and private employers across the country, not just North Carolina.” The Obama administration responded by filing its own lawsuit against the state, with Lynch insulting every African-American who fought for civil rights by comparing North Carolina’s law to Jim Crow. Yes, you read that right.
While many states across the county are embroiled in disputes over whether governments should confer special bathroom and locker room privileges on transgender individuals, North Carolina is the first state the federal government has tried to explicitly coerce. If McCrory had given in to the demands, it would have set a dangerous precedent and a clear signal that states would be made to pay if they crafted laws that deviate from the ideological agenda of the nation’s executive branch.
Indeed, that the federal government believes it appropriate to threaten the education of millions of students so a tiny sliver of Americans can use the restroom they want despite inconveniencing other people indicates just how far we’ve come down the rabbit hole. This gross overreach reveals the fight to de-sex bathrooms and locker rooms isn’t really about safety or equal rights—it’s about further eroding individual freedom in the name of an ever-expanding centralized state.
First Marriage, Now Bathrooms
With all the political squabbling over bathrooms recently, many folks have been left wondering why places for peeing have become controversial. Restrooms haven’t been an issue for more than a hundred years, and as many people have pointed out, transgender people have been using public facilities for decades, largely without incident. Why bathrooms, and why now?
The answer has nothing to do with the safety or rights of transgender people, and everything to do with enforcing the Left’s new radical gender theory—an agenda that demands we erase sex distinctions in every major social institution.
That’s really what the same-sex marriage fight was about, after all. Under the guise of equal rights, pro-LGBT special-interest groups and politicians convinced huge swaths of the population there is no real difference between men and women, that a consenting union between individuals of the same sex is equal to that of a man and a woman, and that drastically re-defining marriage couldn’t possibly have any negative societal ramifications.
These arguments fly in the face of settled science, contradict the legal arrangements of nearly every human civilization that has ever existed, and reject the fundamental truths that men and women are complementary beings whose union produces the ideal child-rearing environment for a stable society.
But once powerful LGBT special interests in politics and government essentially won the marriage debate last June with the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, they were ready to pursue a new avenue to further degrade gender classifications in civil society. Transgender individuals, of course, are a particularly convenient and effective new victim class to use for that end.
Why bathrooms? Because as The New Yorker puts it, they are the “last public vestige of gendered social separation” in a world where virtually all other historical markers of sex distinction have been eradicated. Men and women are no longer segregated in areas they used to be, like church, urban housing, and public transportation. In many cases, removing these barriers has been beneficial, especially in regard to the workplace: there is no good reason to prevent capable women from working alongside men in most career fields (active-duty military is one example of a reasonable exception).
But there are very good and obvious reasons for keeping men and women separate in restroom and showering facilities. Sex-specific bathrooms were originally established not only because of men and women’s distinct hygienic needs, but also because women are far more vulnerable to sexual assault than men, and creating protected areas where only women strip naked prevents sexual violence. While some left-leaning publications have decried this idea as ”paternalistic” and ”antiquated,” the estimated 1 in 6 women who will experience sexual assault (or the 17.7 million existing victims) might disagree.
The Assault on Reality: Accept My Identity, Or Else
The Left’s fight for special transgender preferences regarding bathrooms originates with the social theory of Karl Marx. Marx wrote that in social life “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.” Marx’s central idea was that the individual characteristics that shape your behavior and identity are not innate, natural, or objectively true, but instead have been forced on you by ”society.” From this idea we get the notion of “social construct,” a phrase that has become so overused we hardly understand what it means anymore.
Throughout the past few decades, the liberals who dominate all levels of the American education system have succeeded in passing off these unproven socio-political theories as truth. Students are instructed that gender is ”fluid” and part of some arbitrary ”spectrum,” and that it’s perfectly possible someone’s ”true gender” might not match the sex ”assigned” to them at birth—even though basic biological reality contradicts all these theories. Gender theorists insist biology has no influence over whether someone is a man or a woman; it all has to do with self-expression and perception.
To get a glimpse of just how deeply this has been entrenched into the minds of young Americans, take a look at this video, produced by the Family Policy Institute of Washington.
These students could very well be reciting straight from their gender studies textbook, and no one would know the difference. Whether they truly believe what they’re saying is irrelevant. They’ve been trained never to question or doubt anyone’s subjective identity, and if they will say nothing to stand up for truth, then they’re no different than those who reject it.
Countless other examples demonstrate just how far this ideology has penetrated society. Women’s colleges have started accepting men who believe they’re women, co-ed colleges across the country are increasingly adopting de-sexed housing, and in an even more ridiculous example, Minnesota parents recently sued to get their son’s kindergarten class to incorporate transgender theory into the curriculum.
Beyond education, the International Olympic Council recently voted to allow biologically male athletes to compete with women without surgery, and the DOJ mandated that all prisons consider sexual identity over biological sex when deciding where to place inmates. And who could forget how Caitlyn Jenner beat out a veteran and a cancer victim for the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at last year’s ESPYS, all because he got plastic surgery and changed his name?
Open Bathrooms Don’t Help Trans People
Now this is where progressives will say, “Now, wait a minute. Trans people are harassed and victimized on a daily basis. They need these rules to protect them and ensure they have the equal right to use public restrooms.”
Not so fast. When was the last time you heard of a transgender individual being assaulted as a result of being forced to use the wrong bathroom? And what makes you think open bathroom policies would do anything to stop attacks on trans people?
Consider Washington state’s WAC rule 162-32 as an example: it mandates that sex-segregated public facilities grant access based on the legally indefinable terms “gender expression” and “gender identity.” If a man who claims to be a woman uses the ladies’ room to escape harassment he faced in the men’s room, the same men harassing him can simply declare themselves to be women and follow him right in!
The reasoning from the pro-LGBT forces is filled to the brim with contradictions. Take a look at the lawsuit the Obama administration filed against North Carolina: it not only claims that subjective gender identity is pertinent to determining sex—an idea that scientists overwhelmingly reject—but it also stipulates “gender identity is innate,” “transgender status is inextricably linked to one’s sex,” and that “a transgender man’s sex is male while a transgender woman’s sex is female.”
Wait: doesn’t the central dogma of transgenderism rely on the very notion that physical sex and gender identity aren’t linked? Hasn’t the Left assured us it’s completely possible to be “gender fluid,” feeling one day like a man and the next like a woman? The confusion that abounds from this language perfectly illustrates why open-bathroom policies are utter nonsense, irreconcilable with centuries of established law.
By and large, transgender people didn’t ask for this fight. Through my work as the volunteer coordinator for Just Want Privacy, the initiative effort to repeal Washington’s open-bathroom rule, I’ve come into close contact with transgender folk. Some have told us that many trans people hate laws like this—they want to be left alone, to blend in with the crowds of “cisgender” men and women like they’ve been doing for years.
If politicians were really interested in addressing the needs of transgender individuals, they’d focus on the myriad mental health issues that plague transgender people. Instead of attributing suicides to proponents of common-sense bathroom policies, perhaps trans advocates should address the fact that more than 60 percent of individuals with gender dysphoria suffer from additional mental illnesses, which are often the source of their misery. Instead of making sex changes legal for 15-year-olds without parental consent, perhaps they should stop banning life-saving therapy for troubled trans youth.
How Open Bathrooms Make Us Less Free
All open bathrooms really do is diminish individual liberties and increase the regulatory power of a government that, as Lynch illustrated when announcing the federal lawsuit, resembles Big Brother more and more every day.
As The Federalist senior contributor Stella Morabito has explained, the trans agenda is predominantly a means to deconstruct our traditional understanding of sex and, as a consequence, weaken the autonomy of the family unit—that societal institution that constitutes our most fundamental (and most important) barrier to big government. It starts with rhetoric guidelines and language codes, which are notoriously used by cults to inhibit critical thinking and enforce a new regime of ideas.
Skeptical? Just think of all the new words introduced in the wake of the transgender crusade. GLAAD provides a handy online dictionary, which includes acceptable terms like “cisgender” (to describe everyone who doesn’t experience gender dysphoria) and “genderqueer” (to describe someone whose identity is neither male nor female); problematic terms we should avoid saying like “biologically male” and “genetically female;” and guidelines like “always use a transgender person’s chosen name,” and “never put quotation marks around a transgender person’s chosen pronouns.”
Indeed, many of these cultish guidelines have already made their way into law, often alongside trans bathroom legislation. In New York City, for instance, you can now be fined $250,000 if you “misgender” someone. The aforementioned Washington state WAC rule 162-32 goes a step further, criminalizing “unwelcome personal questions about an individual’s sexual orientation, gender expression or gender identity, or transgender status.” That’s right, ladies—if a male undresses in your locker room, it is literally illegal to ask him what he’s doing there, and if you do you can be sued.
Check out the chilling effect this particular rule already had on one woman in Washington state:
In this instance, a man who didn’t even present as a woman was able to change in front of women and girls, and because of the new law, those who actually had female parts were scared into silence. Their only recourse for preventing such violations was to modify their behavior in a space designed to uphold their safety and privacy.
But as Morabito explains, it doesn’t stop there:
If we agree to change language to suit the transgender lobby, we ultimately agree to destroy in law the entire basis (sex distinctions) for the only union that can result in autonomously formed families…
And if the family is no longer accepted as a union that originates through the union of male and female, there is no real basis for the State to recognize any family as an autonomous unit. Without any such obligation, children become more easily classified as state property and our personal relationships are more easily controlled by the state. If that sounds totalitarian, that’s because it is.
The bathroom fight is so culturally and socially significant because if we accept open-bathroom policies like Washington’s, we also implicitly recognize as legitimate the absurd notion that the subjective self-perceptions of “gender identity” are equal to immutable characteristics like race and sex in the context of both society and the law. If we agree to give the state the authority to impose this new understanding of men and women, then we also agree to give the state the power to re-define humanity itself.
The question we should be asking ourselves when we consider the bathroom issue isn’t whether we’re personally comfortable peeing or showering next to a transgender individual. It’s whether we’re ready to endorse the Left’s radical new standard for what it means to be a man or a woman—and the tragic rejection of both freedom and reality that inevitably comes with it.