Republicans begin 2017 overflowing with bathroom laws

WiG editorial

Right-wing Republicans can’t keep their minds and taxpayers’ dollars out of the toilet. During the first week of 2017, GOP lawmakers in five states introduced bathroom laws to make transgender people use restrooms corresponding to their gender at birth rather than their current gender identity.

Three other states filed so-called “bathroom bills” last year for introduction in this year’s legislative sessions. And in Wisconsin, Rep. Jesse Kremer, R-Kewaskum, says he plans to reintroduce his bathroom bill, which went nowhere in 2016.

The sudden urgency to introduce such baseless laws in state after state is baffling, especially after the backlash against North Carolina’s House Bill 2. Titled the “Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act,” it caused that state huge economic losses. Businesses canceled plans to expand there, and entertainers, conventions and others boycotted the state.

On top of all that, the governor who championed the bill, Pat McCrory, lost his job to a Democrat on Nov. 8, even though his state went for Republican Donald Trump.

One would think that North Carolina might be a cautionary tale.

But no. Legislators are busy introducing bathroom laws and executive officials are embracing them. For instance, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick quickly ranked a bathroom bill as a top legislative priority.

The ‘rationale’

The rationale behind such bills is fear that men will pretend to be transgender and dress up like women to gain access to ladies’ rooms, female locker rooms and other gender-segregated facilities. Once inside, Republicans say, such men will ogle or attack innocent women.

A Google search reveals that while such incidents have occurred, they are extremely rare. They’re certainly not happening at anywhere near a rate that could justify Republicans’ obsession with the subject. And they were happening long before the word transgender even appeared on the world’s radar.

The reality

The real reason bathroom laws are written is ignorance, on several levels. Men who dress as women for kicks are transvestites — and they don’t don a dress to sneak into the ladies’ room. Transgender people — those whose gender identity does not match their birth gender — go through years of transitioning, including psychoanalysis and often expensive surgery, to live in the body they say expresses their true gender. Male-to-female transgender women don’t use ladies’ rooms until the use of hormones and other procedures have sufficiently feminized them.

Changing sexual identity is not done on a whim — and certainly not for ogling. Many transgender people lose their jobs, families, and friends when they come out. Transgender people are frequently subjected to discrimination and harassment. They’re subject to high rates of hate crimes, and some of those crimes are particularly brutal, especially for transgender women.

Trans people attempt suicide at a rate of 41 percent, compared with 4.6 percent for the overall population.

Who but the most ignorant — willfully ignorant — people would believe that a transgender woman would go through all of that just to spy on women using the john? Why can’t Republicans just leave them alone and let them do their business?

Perhaps the greatest show of ignorance among these bathroom-obsessed Republicans is the actual result of such bills: requiring female-to-male transgender men to use the ladies’ room.

We don’t usually include pictures in our editorials, but this time, we must. It’s a poster of Buck Angel, a muscular, hairy trans celebrity who is far from alone among transgender men in appearing hyper-masculine. Please send this picture — and others like it — to Rep. Kremer, to Wisconsin Family Action president Julaine Appling and others on the religious right. Ask them why they want to force such men to use the ladies’ room.

Ignorance and an unhealthy obsession with other peoples’ sexuality make for a toxic combination. Welcome to the bathroom wars of 2017.

Transgender comedian Ian Harvie performs as Margaret Cho’s opening act. If GOP state Rep.Jesse Kremer had his way, Harvie would have to use the ladies’ room if he performed in Wisconsin.