Let's Talk About Just How Dumb Tennessee's Anti-Transgender Laws Are

So I was reading along through Andy Sher’s Times-Free Press story about the ACLU helping a couple of Tennessee business owners sue to stop the implementation of the anti-trans bathroom law (which we also covered on Friday). I was thinking, “Oh hey, nice, Bob Bernstein is in on this,” and, “Yep, that’s some bigoted stuff coming from the state,” when I get to this part:

Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, the House sponsor, said in a statement, "The law also does not alter, limit or affect a business or a person's free speech. The law does not require property owners to guard the entrance to a restroom, ascertain whether or not someone is transgender, nor prohibit anyone from entering or using restroom facilities. The law is in fact very limited in scope. It simply requires a warning sign to be placed at the entrance of a restroom that allows the opposite biological sex to enter that has multiple stalls and allows multiple people in at the same time. Nothing more than that. Women and parents of a female child have a right to know if a man could be waiting on them in a restroom. They also have a right to know if a property owner's policies could give cover to sexual predators waiting to pray upon women and children."

What the hell kind of men does Tim Rudd know? Seriously. As the daughter of a man and the sister of some men and the aunt of some men and boys, and as someone who has peed in the same bathroom at the same time as cis men, trans men and drag queens, I have never once observed them or their friends waiting in the bathroom to sexually assault anyone. Maybe the real issue here is that Tim Rudd needs better friends.

I’m sure someone somewhere once did wait in a restroom to try to assault a stranger, but it’s very, very rare. Most people are sexually assaulted by someone they know — perhaps a trusted basketball coach, or a teacher, or a minister, or their dad’s friend, or their friend or their dad. And I’m not sure what sign is going to fix that problem.

And if men's bathrooms are such a danger — if rapists just skulk around bathrooms waiting to assault people — why aren’t there more bathroom rapes in men’s bathrooms? Men are so horny and daring that they’ll prey on women and children in a public restroom, but not so dangerous that other men have to be concerned? I find that very hard to believe.

These signs are just about forcing bigoted speech on business owners and not actually about protecting women and children. It’s easy to see if you just swap out the wording. Imagine this:

NOTICE

THIS FACILITY MAINTAINS A POLICY OF ALLOWING THE USE OF RESTROOMS BY MEMBERS OF EITHER RACE, REGARDLESS OF THE DESIGNATION ON THE RESTROOM.

I have no doubt people would have liked signs like this being posted in public restrooms at the end of segregation. It’s still wrong. People are different than you. It’s fine. Literally no one is being hurt by transgender people peeing in Fido’s.

Here’s who is being hurt. Say you’re a father traveling with your small daughter. She has to pee. It’s an emergency. You pull into a rest area. Which bathroom do you take her into? Or say that you’re the female caregiver of a man with multiple sclerosis. Can you not go into the men’s bathroom with him without causing a Republican scandal in this state? The men I have most often seen in women’s bathrooms are of an age where I feel very confident that their prostates had decided they couldn’t wait for the men’s room to open up. Judging by the age of a lot of our legislators, this is a problem they will face. And we could choose to just be compassionate and mind our own business.

If you need to be warned before you pee in public that people who are different than you exist and sometimes also need to pee, maybe you should just stay home instead of making the rest of us wish you had.

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