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Saturday, June 22
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion editorial

EDITORIAL: Two takes on North Carolina's bathroom bill

Whose bathroom is it anyways?

Zach Chambers

When did bathrooms become such a big political issue?

In response to an ordinance in Charlotte, North Carolina, forcing business owners to allow transgender individuals to use the restroom of their choice, the state legislature passed the North Carolina Public Facilities and Privacy Act.

More than a month after its signing, this bill is still being reported on. Obviously, something is hitting a nerve here.

Overruling the ordinance in Charlotte, this bill, at least in part, prevents local governments from inflicting their social views on business owners.

The fact governments of various levels feel the need to tell business owners who may use which bathroom shows how far the underlying philosophy of private property has fallen from our national discourse.

Bathrooms in private businesses are just that: private. The government has no business telling any private property holder how to use their property so long as they are not putting individuals in danger.

Business owners need to be free to determine their own policies regarding who uses their property in what way, otherwise it is not really their property.

If transgender individuals do not feel safe shopping somewhere that mandates they use the bathroom their biology would suggest, then they are free to shop elsewhere. If conservatives do not feel safe shopping somewhere like Target that allows anyone to use either bathroom, then they are free to shop elsewhere.

One must ask, why is this straightforward and simple solution not more widely embraced?

If I wanted to dictate, in my private residence, which gender uses which bathroom, people might complain, but it seems unlikely anyone would demand the government get involved for the sake of my visitors.

Jim Crow laws required business owners to segregate their customers. These laws created a government policy interest in public accommodations, including restrooms. Ever since then, they have been something to pass laws about.

Segregation was therefore, in addition to a cultural failing, a failure to respect private property rights.

Rather than enforce private property rights and tell state governments they had no business pushing this on business owners, the federal government simply nationalized the issue.

Allowing business owners to make their own decisions certainly makes some abuses possible.

However, this is necessary for a polity that accepts rights as natural and God granted, just as the inalienable right to free speech means people are allowed to say cruel things and our procedures for fair trials ensure some guilty men will walk free.

Aside from this, it is almost impossible to see how many corporations could get away with something as clearly wrong as segregation in a day and age where massive boycotts are called and media attention is drawn to owners expressing unpopular opinions.

Transgender bathroom laws are just the latest salvo in the culture wars, something that has been raging since at least segregation. If public accommodations were not a matter of public policy, it might be easier to tame these fires.

In a diverse country of more than 300 million individuals it is going to be impossible to find solutions to issues like transgender bathroom rights that satisfy everyone. Especially today, when we are faced with issues that are much more morally ambiguous than segregation.

If the government is to decide the winners and losers of this battle, state- or even nationwide, then it raises the stakes for everyone.

It would be much easier for both sides to coexist peacefully if businesses were allowed to cater to their customers’ preferences. There is room in the free market for everyone.

People should not be punished for peeing while trans

Josh Byron

The idea bathrooms are a new issue is simply not true.

They have been political and will continue to be and need to be addressed. Transgender people, simply put, need bathrooms.

Segregation based on race, sexuality, gender identity and gender expression has occurred since at least the 18th century. 

The idea bathrooms are private is another issue altogether.

Private corporations have gotten away with segregation in the past and would continue to do so if the government did not intervene. As a gender nonconforming person, I have experienced this segregation first hand. All three of my last three workplaces lacked a gender-neutral bathroom of any kind.

What am I supposed to do if the private businesses where I work, as well as the places nearby, only have gendered bathrooms. Hold it?

I cannot choose where I get hired. I cannot choose where I need to shop.

If no businesses in my town decide to stand up for what’s right and there is no governmental law to help me, there will be nowhere I can comfortably use the bathroom.

Despite being a small part of the population, my rights should not be infringed upon by the majority. If America claims to stand for equal rights for all, we should at least try to uphold that for trans and gender nonconforming people for something as necessary as the right to use the bathroom.

Trans and gender nonconforming individuals are not more likely to attack or rape others.

Spokespeople from the Transgender Law Center, the Human Rights Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union said there have been zero reported incidents of attacks perpetrated by trans people in bathrooms according to an article from Mic.

Alternatively, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence founded in 2013 found 72 percent of LGBT homicide victims were transgender women and that 67 percent were trans women of color. 

If anyone needs protection, it’s genderqueer 

Sexual predators are already everywhere. They will use any means at their disposal. Numerous places where sexual assault happens are perfectly OK: bars, frat houses and even cisgender bathrooms.

Perhaps, instead of punishing trans and gender nonconforming people, impersonating a trans person to enter a bathroom should be a crime. This way, cis predators can be punished for the crimes they commit instead of actual trans people.

There is no solution that will satisfy everyone in this matter. But it is up to the government to decide which side is the greater infringement of rights: the right to use the bathroom or the right to protect yourself against a nonexistant threat.

The free market of our country has never and will never have room for everyone. Capitalism and Libertarian governments privilege those who are already privileged. Cultural and sociological factors like discrimination, histories of economic and political disenfranchisement and violence can’t be ignored.

Trans people are a small portion of the population and their patronage won’t dramatically increase profit. But it is our right to be allowed to live our lives when we are not hurting others. The government can and should intercede in these moments of discrimination, violence and unequal access to basic bathroom facilities.

I wish I could have a gender-neutral bathroom and know that I am safe in a room that agrees with who I am. If men and women cannot handle that, fine — give us our own bathroom.

If you want to segregate us because butch women or non-passing trans people look “weird” to you, then at least let us live and poop.

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