Bathroom Bill Myths & Facts

04/30/2016 12:06 pm ET Updated May 01, 2017

This morning, I received a phone call from a voting parent in my district who is opposed to the so called bathroom bill, correctly known as Transgender Public Accommodation bill. I was fortunate that my constituent left detailed reasons on my answering machine explaining why she opposes this legislation.

This is one of many people who share these concerns. As such, I am writing down the concerns my constituent articulated, and explaining why these are based in misunderstanding rather than the facts and current laws.

Myth: This bill allows people to use the bathroom that the gender the associate with, not the gender they are.

Fact: There is a big misunderstanding on the difference between gender and sex. Gender is what it is to be psychologically male or female and sex is what it is to be biologically male or female. This bill only allows a person who identifies as a male to use a male bathroom and who identifies as a female to use a female bathroom. It does not permit crossdressers or perverts or pedophiles from using whatever bathroom they want.

Myth: This bill allows a man to use a woman's bathroom.

Fact: A transgender woman is a woman who happens to have the anatomy of a man. The person using the bathroom is a person who thoroughly identifies as a woman. This is not a man. Furthermore, women's rooms have stalls with doors. The only way you will know that the person has the anatomy of a man is if YOU are looking.

Myth: This is unsafe for women and children.

Fact: This bill does not ease any restrictions on assault of any kind. Any behaviors that are currently threatening or illegal towards anyone, not just women and children, will still be illegal.

I have written about the safety aspect of transgender public accommodations in the past, which can be found in this link here, here, and here.

Perhaps no one said it better than a transgender person herself:

The legislators introducing these bills [to ban anti-LGBT legislation] claim they are about public safety. But it's important to know that in the 18 states (and more than 200 cities) that have laws and ordinances protecting transgender people from discrimination, there have been no increases in public safety incidents. None. Why? Because there are laws in every state which make it illegal for anyone to enter a restroom to harm or harass people, or invade their privacy. Police use those laws to arrest perpetrators and keep people safe. Protecting LGBT people from discrimination doesn't change that!

Myth: This bill allows for predators and perverts access to bathrooms and locker rooms.

Fact: This bill does not permit a predator or pervert access to a bathroom or locker room; it is only allowing a transgender person access to all public accommodations. A predator or pervert is not being given access with this law. If a predator or pervert tries to gain access to an opposite sex bathroom or locker room, that is already against the law. Furthermore, over 90% of assaults on children are done by someone the child knows. Only with extreme rareness is it someone who is using a restroom, and that is and will continue to be against the law.

Myth: A transgender woman is just a crossdressing man.

A transgender person is someone whose gender identity is through and through part of their true identity. A crossdresser is someone who is doing the act of wearing opposite sex clothes, but this is not the same as their gender identity.

Myth: It is a good idea to have a law that requires businesses to have unisex bathrooms.

Fact: For existing businesses, the state is not allowed to impose unfunded mandates on cities or businesses per Chapter 29 Section 27c of Mass General Law. For new businesses this may be an option.

Myth: I don't want to see a man dressed as a woman in a woman's bathroom.

Fact: Women's rooms have stalls with a door. Unless YOU are the person looking over the walls or in the cracks, you won't know if it is a man or a woman in there with you.

A transgender woman is dressed as a woman. A transgender woman is a woman. A transgender person is not a crossdresser. You can tell the difference between the way they act and look.

Myth: I am OK with a transgender person who has had a sex change operation but not someone who has not.

Fact: Women's rooms have stalls with a door. Unless YOU are the person looking over the walls or in the cracks, you won't know if it is a man or a woman in there with you.

Can I promise you that no one will ever try to exploit this legislation? No. But I can't promise you that guns, cars, alcohol, or the internet won't be abused either. And we don't deny people the right to bear arms, drive a car, or use the internet because others may shoot someone with a gun, drink and drive, or promote child abuse on the internet. In short, we don't deny someone's rights because others may abuse those rights. That would be wrong.

Gender identity is at the core of who we are. No one should be discriminated against based on their gender identity. That is why I support transgender public accommodation rights.

Paul Heroux is a State Representative from Massachusetts. He can be contacted at paulheroux.mpa@gmail.com.