On August 29, people arrived at the Lincoln County Courthouse in Newport, Oregon to show support for a transgender person named Lauren Jackson, who had recently recovered from an assault after using the women’s bathroom while looking like a man.
Speaking at the event, Pastor Bob Barrett of Yachats Community Presbyterian Church stated, “People of faith to just come together and say whatever your theology is, whatever your beliefs on this issue, can we come together and say that hate is wrong, that violence is wrong? The type of violence that we saw last week is wrong,”
The Lincoln County Commissioner lamented of the assault on Jackson, “Well, frankly, it felt like a kick in the gut. I’m sad. I’m angry. I’m embarrassed for my community. The fact that the person was not a local really doesn’t make a lot of difference. It certainly doesn’t lessen Lauren’s suffering.”
The alleged assailant, Fred Joseph Costanza, is an unemployed, multi-state criminal offender. He was drunk at the time of the assault and allegedly so violently attacked Jackson, hitting Jackson more than 10 times in the face, he broke Jackson’s jaw and Jackson had to be hospitalized. Jackson may require facial reconstruction surgery as a result.
Costanza was arrested and is being held under a $140,000 bail. He is charged with first-degree intimidation, second-degree assault, and two misdemeanors. The charge of “intimidation” is now considered a “bias” crime in Oregon. Jackson is homeless and recently moved to Portland, Oregon.
Jackson described the incident saying, “He just comes up and starts yelling something about me being a lady, thinking I’m a lady. I just stand there and I don’t say anything. I don’t raise my hands. And he just blindsides me from the beginning and the rest was him dragging me around and continuing to punch me, and I’m just screaming. Someone heard and ran across the park and tackled this guy off of me.”
Jackson also reported to the press, “All of a sudden being pretty is very important to me. I’m having a rough start,” in describing the facial injuries.
LGBT Nation, one of the largest LGBT news resources, titled an article describing the assault as, “Man breaks trans woman’s jaw for using restroom at Oregon state park.” The article went on to say, “Bathroom bills aren’t just transphobic, they actually encourage people to attack trans people just for existing.”
As always, there is another perspective to the story. LGBT Nation reported that the incident began when Costanza’s wife left the restroom and told her husband a man was in the restroom with her, harassing her. Her husband immediately confronted Jackson.
Jackson lamented the difficult situation, arguing, “Do you have to take away somebody else’s rights in order to protect someone’s rights? Is one more important than the other? I don’t know. I don’t feel safe using the men’s restroom. And other people don’t feel safe having me in the women’s restroom.”
Looking at the situation objectively, however, it appears that Jackson’s physical appearance is highly relevant. Jackson looks male in all aspects and largely presents as male in the photos provided to the press. Aside from androgynous clothing, Jackson has facial hair, long curly hair styled in a gender-neutral way, and does not wear makeup. The woman involved in the incident simply would have had no way of knowing this individual identified as transgender and would have only understood that a man was in a public restroom with her and, according to her, harassing her.
Costanza was drunk and appears to have been a violent person, according to his criminal history. Certainly beating a person is never justified and he has been rightfully charged with assault. The question is, should he be also charged with a hate crime, and is this an argument for more legal protections for transgender individuals?
While the current LGBT argument is that transgender people do not need to look any certain way to validate their gender identity, it is unreasonable to expect the overwhelming majority of people to understand this and easily recognize transgender as a legally sheltered identity. Regardless of what the left insists, it is not safe for men to freely be in women’s restrooms.
Whatever occurred between Jackson and Costanza’s wife has not been confirmed, and it is unclear if Jackson represented any specific threat. But the woman involved had no way of knowing this. Her experience is important too, and she is not hateful or a bigot for responding with concern when entering a state park restroom and discovering someone who looked like a man alone with her.
While Jackson should not be forced to use restrooms Jackson feels unsafe in either, it is unreasonable for Jackson to expect others to ignore Jackson’s physical appearance and assume Jackson is not a threat because Jackson identifies as a woman.
Transgender hate crimes are difficult to broadly describe because the situations in which they can occur are not always straightforward. Based on what we know right now, Jackson was not necessarily assaulted by a “bigot” just for using the restroom, although Jackson was assaulted for identifying as a woman. It’s not clear whether Costanza or his wife knew Jackson is transgender and that motivated the alleged attack.
How could this situation have been avoided legally? If the law stated Jackson had a right to use the women’s restroom, would Costanza’s wife have be able to distinguish between a potential predator and a transgender woman in that moment? How was Costanza supposed to respond to his fearful wife reporting that a man was harassing her in the women’s restroom? The LGB T advocacy position is simply unsustainable in real life.
We have reached a point in which gender identity is astonishingly fluid and can be as commonly experienced in daily life as same-sex couples are. We cannot pretend this is a fringe issue we can ignore. Clearly authorities have chosen to adopt the more extreme LGBT narrative in response to any incident involving an LGBT person, leaving average people without a voice or an advocate for more reasonable discussion.
While transgender individuals have the right to use public restrooms in peace just as everyone else does, we lack a social expectation of reasonable accommodation in how they associate their outward appearance with their gender identity. The resulting misunderstandings and confrontations cannot be ignored or avoided, and confused individuals cannot always be assumed to be hateful bigots deserving of severe social shaming and criminal punishment.
It’s time we have a real discussion about this real-life issue, and all voices involved deserve an equal say and consideration.