Washington’s legislators don’t have to imagine if public accommodation protections for transgender people result in an uptick of men stalking women in public bathrooms. Just ask other cities with similar protections.

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WHEN it comes to criminality, we should treat individuals based on what they do and not on a characteristic such as race, creed, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity. It seems especially un-American to suggest that we should police a minority group based on a fear of what people who pretend to be members of that minority group might do.

I’m talking about policing transgender people based on what people pretending to be transgender might do in public bathrooms. Somehow, this is seen as reasonable — to some Washington lawmakers.

SB 6443would eliminate Washington’s new transgender state Human Rights Commission rule guaranteeing transgender people access to restrooms and locker rooms according to their identity. The argument? Some non-transgender men might pretend to be transgender women to enter women’s bathrooms to prey on women and children.

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Even making the assumption that it’s OK to legislate based on what transgender pretenders might do, reasonable legislators should look to other cities where this issue has come up to see if such fears ever materialized.

Autumn Sandeen is a transgender U.S. Navy veteran.
Autumn Sandeen is a transgender U.S. Navy veteran. She’s written for the Washington Blade, The Advocate, and currently writes the “Trans Progressive” column for LGBT Weekly.
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Take Gainesville, Fla. In 2008, a political organization called Citizens for Good Public Policy opposed the city’s gender identity ordinance and initiated a referendum to repeal it. The organization even created a commercial that showed a young girl being followed by a creepy looking man into a public women’s restroom, followed by the warning, “On January 28, 2008 your City Commission made this legal.”

I recently called the Gainesville Police Department and asked what happened after the ordinance became law. Was there an uptick of transgender pretenders (or transgender women) preying on non-transgender women and children in women’s public bathrooms?

Officer Ben Tobias, a public information spokesman, said, “I have been with GPD since 2005 and actually worked in the downtown area in 2008 when the ordinance came into existence. I have asked around and none of us can remember any incidents related to the ordinance.”

That’s eight years without such an incident.

This is one city’s experience among many. Washington’s legislators don’t have to imagine if public accommodation protections for transgender people result in an uptick of men stalking women in public bathrooms. Just ask other cities with similar protections to find out if the Gainesville experience is an aberration. Hint: It’s not.

It’s distressing that the Washington state Senate is considering passing a bill that would, by intention, roll back public accommodation protections for transgender people just because they’re transgender.

The fact that this legislation is based solely on imagined fears of what transgender pretenders might do in public bathrooms, and that this fear isn’t even reality-based, is legislating at its worst.