There Are Good, Non-Bigoted Reasons to Support HB2

HB2 protestors in Raleigh

It’s been a few months since HB2 dominated the news cycle and sent “bathroom” trending on social media, but the concerns of the pro-HB2 side continue to be widely misunderstood. I have lost count of how many times I have seen serious, earnest explanations that transgender men (i.e. those who identify as women) are not interested in raping women in bathrooms, as if that prospect was the motivation behind the law. Since the Department of Justice just filed for an injunction that would suspend HB2 as part of their ongoing litigation against the North Carolina law, this seems like a good time to clarify what is at stake.

To begin with, we should be clear about what is not behind the law. I don’t know anyone who is seriously concerned about men who are actually transgender assaulting women in bathrooms. A man who genuinely identifies as a woman is not a likely rapist. The oft-repeated reassurance that transgenders will not be assaulting “other” women en masse is obvious and irrelevant.

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‘Transgender bathrooms’ are not the problem

If you came within 100 feet of a television last week, you know that the debate over “transgender bathrooms” heated up when the Obama Administration unilaterally ordered every school system in the country to allow male and female students to use whichever bathroom they choose. Let’s start with the obvious: the mandate is egregious, both morally and constitutionally, and any possible pushback is appropriate. Because identification as transgender is entirely subjective–completely divorced from biological facts–the practical effect of the bathroom mandate is to give male students carte blanche to enter girls’ locker rooms and bathrooms at any time.

The danger of sexual assault is obvious, but the assault on modesty is equally troubling. Propping open the door to the locker room in the name of inclusion casually devalues both male and female bodies by implying that there is nothing sacred or special about an uncovered body–nothing worth shielding from prying eyes. Apparently, the right to privacy guarantees abortion and gay marriage, but has nothing to say about the protection of unclothed young women. (We can thank pornography for how unremarkable this proposed violation seems.)

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