Forcing trans people to use bathrooms that correspond to their sex at birth adds to the discrimination that makes some suicidal
Thursday 24 March 2016
Like all other people, transgender people go to the bathroom to pee. Afterwards, they may even take a moment to comb their hair or just look in the mirror. Overall though, their habits in the restroom are just like yours.
But Wednesday night the North Carolina legislature passed – and Governor Pat McCrory signed – a bill that bans trans people from bathrooms that don’t match the sex they were assigned at birth. There are 40 similar bills being considered in at least 16 US states that echo this now-successful piece of legislation, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
This shocking win not only signals a red alert in the fight for full LGBT equality, but also something more disgusting: a clear message has been sent by North Carolina conservatives, sure to be emulated nationwide, that it doesn’t matter if trans people live or die.
I’m not jumping to conclusions here. An analysis of data compiled by the National Transgender Discrimination Survey last month shows that when young people are denied access to a restroom that aligns with their gender identity, their rates of suicide go up.
Translation: not allowing trans youth to use a bathroom only perpetuates feelings of isolation or depression that lead 41% of transgender people to attempt kill themselves at some point in their lives, compared to the 4.6% in the general population.
This finding should be at the forefront of everyone’s minds as this bill takes effect in North Carolina, and as other proposed legislation moves forward in states like Kansas, where officials have proposed a bill that would allow someone to sue a public school if they saw a transgender person in a bathroom that didn’t match their sex assigned at birth. (Who is going to be checking people’s genitals if this passes? And isn’t that assault?)