Recently, I received a comment from a young woman named Melissa on an article entitled “LGBT Misogyny: The Battle of The Bathrooms“.
In that blog, I discuss the recent push for “non-discrimination” laws and policies that make it legal for men who identify as female to use women’s restrooms. I maintain that such laws endanger women, and violate their rights and privacy.
Melissa’s comment is a common response to that position. So instead of replying with a short comment, I decided to address it more thoroughly in a post.
“I live in Seattle. We have had an equal rights ordinance allowing trans women to use women’s restrooms since 1985 and there have been no complaints of them misbehaving. No leering. No exposure. No assaults.
Are men in Springfield that much more perverted than those in Seattle?”
Melissa, you seem like a reasonable woman. I do take issue with your statement, and ask you to consider another perspective.
No Complaints— the LGBT Line
First of all, to be fair, it can’t be said with authority that there have been no such reports, unless one has poured through all Seattle police reports and news articles on the subject since 1985.
This kind of blanket assertion is used frequently by transgender advocates, and promoted as a talking point in training materials distributed by GLAAD to teach people how to talk about LGBT issues.
The strategy is specific: make a bold statement that the fears of these silly women about their bathroom privacy is not rooted in fact, because cities with these ordinances have had no reports of assault or harassment.
As it is, a cursory Google search will show this assumption to be inaccurate.
Second, you said there has been no leering.
But how would you know? “Leering” is not illegal. It is subjective. It is not a reportable offense when done at a bar, a party, a store, or on the street. So why would an officer take such a report when it’s done in a bathroom?
After all, for many women “looking” and “leering” are exactly the same thing if done by a male while she’s showering at the gym or going to the bathroom.
But who is she to say a transgender male can’t look at her? He has a legal right to be there – and where else is he supposed to look?
No Exposure…In A Bathroom?
Third, you said there has been no exposure.
How is that possible? If a man goes into the ladies restroom and pulls down his pants to go to the bathroom, changes his clothes, or takes a shower in front of females, that’s exposure. If there were to be no exposure involved, bathrooms would not need to be private areas, or divided by gender in the first place.
Regardless of how a person chooses to dress, a penis is still a penis. And for millions of American women, frankly, that’s not a sight we want to see from a stranger in public.
Nor is it something that all mothers find to be appropriate to expose to our girls. In fact, to do so violates deeply held beliefs.
But where this exposure is legal, to whom can we complain?
These ordinances are serving to silence feminine voices. And that should concern anyone who cares for women at all.
Cross-dressing, Misbehaving, and Bathroom Assaults: SEATTLE
Fourth, you said that in Seattle there has been no misbehaving and no assault. Consider these examples from your local papers:
SEATTLE – By JOEL MORENO | KOMO NEWS
“Renowned stockbroker and UW instructor Peter Rettman was put on probation and ordered into a year of treatment for repeatedly exposing himself to female employees at a Christopher and Banks [women’s clothing] store.
After changing into different women’s outfits, he would then ask female employees how he looked. The problem was, he was naked from the waist down and his genitals were exposed.
“He exposed himself to me several times and pointed to it over and over,” said store employee Rachael Shelden.
Rettman admitted to police that he’d exposed himself at other stores, including an Auburn maternity store, “close to ten times.”
His lawyer, David Smith, also insisted that Rettman’s actions were not sexually motivated.
“It’s not something that should cause the public to think that this person has a sexual deviancy problem or poses a danger to the public in any way.”
“I don’t see how it’s not sexual,” Shelden said. “If it was just cross-dressing, then why not leave your pants on?””
It may seem obvious that this behavior should be reported, and in this situation the women were heard.
But that’s not always the case. In 2011, a Macy’s employee refused to allow a cross-dressing male to change in the women’s fitting room. Citing their LGBT-friendly store policy, Macy’s fired her.
So when to speak up, and when to be silent? The employees of Christopher and Banks weren’t even sure. Incredibly, Peter Rettman was allowed to try on 20 different women’s outfits— each time naked from the waist down and pointing to his genitals— before he was reported.
This in spite of the fact that Sheldon said, “To me, this was a sexual assault,” and told the court with tears, “This man came into my workplace where I felt safe and violated me.”
So why wasn’t she confident enough to report him— or kick him out of the dressing room— after, say…10 times?
Because no one wants to be a bigot, or break the law, or lose their job.
These are treacherous waters for women indeed.
SEATTLE — By
“A woman was attacked and nearly raped… inside a Harborview Medical Center restroom but was saved when a friend heard her screams for help, according to the Seattle Police Department.
According to the report, Walton charged at the victim, grabbed her by the neck, and pushed her into a bathroom stall.
The victim suffered deep, bleeding scratches to her neck, an injury to the back of her head, and light-headedness from being choked. She was admitted to Harborview for treatment.”
SEATTLE— BY Levi Pulkkinen | SEATTLEPI.COM
“A Seattle man alleged to have been caught setting up a camera in the women’s restroom of a Des Moines library has been charged with voyeurism.
King County prosecutors claim Mario Morales-Herrera recorded a 10-year-old girl and a 40-year-old woman using the facilities at the library during two incidents separated by two years. Morales, 40, is alleged to have dressed as a woman to place a camera in a bathroom stall.
“His conduct is predatory and he poses a danger to the safety of the community,” Senior Deputy Prosecutor Lisa Johnson said in court papers.
Questioned by detectives, Morales described himself as “a curious little boy.”
“I have watched thousands of videos like that,” Morales is alleged to have said through an interpreter.”
SEATTLE/ BELLEVUE – By Joanna Small and Casey McNerthney | KIRO 7 news
“A man has been charged with voyeurism and assault after police say he sneaked into a women’s bathroom at the Bellevue Hyatt, crawled into a stall and grabbed a woman’s upper thigh.
“It appeared to the victim as though he was trying to grab her vagina area,” Senior Deputy Prosecutor Carla Carlstrom wrote in charging document summary. “The victim fled the restroom and got help but the defendant got away.”
On two other occasions at the Hyatt Hotel, the police received complaints of the suspect, Aqdas Altaf Hussain Malik, sexually harassing and acting sexually aggressive toward female customers. But he has only been charged in one incident.”
With the ordinance Seattle has in place, these women have no right to even report these men for being in the bathroom, or to demand that they leave…until the man admits he’s not transgender, or actually assaults them.
So, imagine you’re one of these women or girls who were harassed or assaulted. How would you defend yourself? Think about the scenario.
You’re in a stall. You are in a vulnerable position. You hear/ see a man come into the bathroom. Any man.
He bends over and looks under the door. You know, like women do to see if the stall is occupied.
But you can’t tell him to leave. You can’t even scream. Because lady, he’s legal— and if he’s transgender, you’ll be considered the harasser.
You see, heterosexual cross-dressers like Seattle man Mario Morales-Herrera no longer have to don a skirt to sneak into a girl’s bathroom and hide a camera. Now, they can put on their skirts, walk boldly into that same bathroom (or locker room, or public shower), and enjoy the view in person. Their voyeurism is legal.
And if women don’t like it? Too bad. We may comprise half of the population, but when it comes to civil rights, women are not at the front of the line.
Gay men are.
Innocent as Doves, Shrewd as Snakes
Finally, you said:
“Are men in Springfield that much more perverted than those in Seattle?”
It would be naive to say that men in one city are more perverted than another. Men will be as perverted as they are allowed to be. This is true in any city, any country, any religion, anywhere.
A few examples:
New York –
San Diego –
Saudi Arabia –
Man dressed as woman arrested for molestation in Saudi bathroom, Man used mosque ablution room to harass women
Cleburne, Texas –
Los Angeles County –
Washington D.C –
As women, if we want to stay safe, we have to be as innocent as doves and as shrewd as snakes. We cannot afford to be naïve.
For example, if a woman believes that male religious leaders are more moral than other men, I would disagree. They are just men, and just as prone to sexual perversion as any other. She should not let her guard down.
In the same way, if you imagine that transgender men (biological males who identify as female) are somehow more moral than other men, I disagree. They are just men, and just as prone to sexual perversion as any other. You should not let your guard down.
Deviant behavior will always exist. But where there is no deterrent, it flourishes. More often than not males are the perpetrators, and women and children the victims.
If a transgender man has not “transitioned”, he still has male genitalia and a male sex drive. When confronted with a transgender person in a bathroom, a woman can’t necessarily tell if he is a cross-dresser or transgender; much less heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual.
In fact, according to these “non-discrimination” ordinances, any investigation into the legitimacy of a male using a women’s restroom could be construed as harassment— businesses will be afraid to police that.
In the case of Planet Fitness, the person who lost their membership was the woman who complained. Did she really deserve to be disrespected for objecting to a man watching her change? Is it not discrimination to deny her service?
If Women Don’t Respect Women…Who Will?
Some women do not mind undressing or going to the bathroom in front of biological males who present themselves as female. To do so is their choice. It may be their way of showing acceptance to transgender individuals.
However, these women can support their biologically female sisters who feel differently and their transgender friends by promoting (and even using) the unisex bathroom.
In the same way, some women do not mind attending churches that ban women from the pulpit. To do so is their choice. It may be their way of showing faith in their understanding of the Bible, and the leadership of their sons and husbands.
However, these women can still support their sisters’ freedom of speech by refusing to fund denominations and leaders who actively campaign against women. After all, it’s one thing to accept a submissive or domestic role for oneself. It is quite another to empower organizations that try to stop women from preaching in any church, bar women from theological studies, fire professors at seminaries just for being female, and shun women who choose a career over domestic life.
If women listen to one another, we can find a common perspective. We don’t have to push our own personal choices on all women. Should we not respect a woman’s right to make choices for herself— even if her beliefs differ from our own?
These “non-discrimination” laws may make transgender people feel more accepted, but they do it at the price of silencing and disrespecting millions of women. These women are not KKK bigots trying to discriminate against transgender people. They are themselves a minority trying to protect their bodies, modesty, and dignity from men.
If you can empathize with transgender citizens, surely you can empathize with your fellow females as well. We can’t afford to be our own enemies.
The struggles and experiences women have in common far outweigh our differences. Hopefully, that common perspective can bring us together to stand up for the rights of women everywhere, to have their voices and bodies respected— on their own terms.
After all, if women don’t respect the right of a woman to choose how her body and privacy are treated— then how can we expect anyone else to?