Vail Daily column: Facts don’t support fears
Once you become a parent, your child’s safety becomes a top priority, even if ensuring it comes at the expense of civility towards others. So when parents voice concerns about sexual predators exploiting laws meant to protect the rights of transgender individuals, as a parent, I appreciate where their fear comes from. They are prioritizing their child’s wellbeing ahead of someone else’s feelings.
However, I happen to think those fears are unfounded and stoked by bigots with an intolerant agenda. The facts simply do not support the contention that laws meant to protect the rights of the transgender community by allowing them to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity rather than their birth certificate will be used by sexual predators to enter women’s bathrooms and prey on young girls.
First of all, transgender is not a proselytizing religion. Trans men and women do not hang out in bathrooms attempting to convert children. Nor is transgender a lifestyle choice or simply a hormone imbalance. The Scientific American reported on a 2013 Spanish study that using MRI indicated “the brain structures of the trans people were more similar in some respects to the brains of their experienced gender than those of their natal gender.” In another study, Dutch researchers “found that adolescent boys and girls with gender dysphoria responded much like peers of their experienced gender to androstadienone, an odorous steroid with pheromone-like properties.” Studies such as these point to a biological origin for transgender.
In an attempt to quell criticism of discriminatory bathroom laws targeting the transgender community, supporters of the laws raise the specter of the bathroom predator. However, Media Matters has reported extensively on the “bathroom predator myth” surveying states, municipalities and universities with LGBT nondiscrimination policies pertaining to restroom use and not one reported a bathroom predator incident.
We are looking for the bogeyman in the closet, when he has been under the bed all along. According to Darkness to Light, an organization committed to ending child sexual abuse, 7 to 12 percent of all children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. Precise numbers do not exist because so many of these assaults go unreported to the authorities. Are these assaults happening in public restrooms? Try a bit closer to home. According to The U.S. Department of Justice, “69 percent of the teen sexual assaults reported to law enforcement occurred in the residence of the victim, the offender or another individual.” Furthermore, children are more likely to be abused by someone they know, rather than a stranger. Sixty percent of perpetrators were someone known to the family, such as a babysitter, clergy, coach or teacher. It was not some guy in a skirt skulking around a public toilet, but a pillar of the community, such as former House Speaker Dennis Hastert or Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Thirty percent of the abusers were family members, while only about 10 percent of abusers were strangers.
Fears of bathroom predators are a pretext for discriminating against transgender people. Speaking on Chris Matthews’ show “Hardball,” trans activist Jennifer Finney Boylan captured what may be the true motivation behind these laws: “Now gay men and lesbians can get married, and they’re no longer the whipping boys and whipping girls in this country, now maybe they’re trying to rile up people against transgender people.” Transgender is not a choice, but hate is.
Claire Noble can be found online at clairenoble.org and “Claire Noble Writer” on Facebook.