Donald Trump Was Right About Trans Bathrooms, But I Was Wrong

Donald Trump Was Right About Trans Bathrooms, But I Was Wrong

I wrote an article in The Federalist, which appears today, about the “bathroom law” in North Carolina. It was factually wrong. In the article, I stated that the bill “bars people in North Carolina from using bathrooms that do not match their birth sex.”

This is incorrect. The law only regulates bathroom usage in public facilities—not in private businesses.

I formed my opinion based on mainstream media characterizations of the law. Here is the lede from the New York Times article on it: “North Carolina legislators, in a whirlwind special session on Wednesday, passed a wide-ranging bill barring transgender people from bathrooms and locker rooms that do not match the gender on their birth certificates.”

From the Washington Post: “With this measure, which was introduced to override a civil rights ordinance passed last month in Charlotte, the state’s largest city, North Carolina becomes the first state to ban students and others from using restrooms that match with their gender identity if it clashes with their birth certificates.”

From CNN: “House Bill 2, the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, puts in place a statewide policy that bans individuals from using public bathrooms that do not correspond to their biological sex.”

Within minutes of the piece appearing on The Federalist, many astute readers saw my error and corrected me.

If you want have a good laugh at my expense, please read through the comments and you will see that I initially defended my position, but The Federalist readers politely demonstrated how I was wrong. One commenter even pointed out that in North Carolina you can legally change the gender on your birth certificate, which, if true, is an important point that should be included in any discussion about this law.

Soon thereafter, I found myself being excoriated on Twitter by one of my intellectual heroes, Ryan T. Anderson, who also pointed out the factual errors. This has certainly been a “teachable moment” for me.

I still think that regulating bathroom usage—even in public facilities—is a bad idea, for the reasons I outlined in my article. In this way, I agree with Donald Trump’s initial statements on the issue (which, as my original article notes, he has since altered somewhat). But the scope of this law is much smaller than I originally suggested and for that I sincerely apologize to The Federalist readers.

Peter Johnson is an external relations officer for the Acton Institute. He has held various positions with the National Capital Area Council and Boy Scouts of America.
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