The First Transgender Bathroom Incident In A North Carolina School Isn’t What The Fearmongers Promised At All

With transgender bathroom accommodation in debate across the country, and the president declaring that schools must give students access to the proper bathroom, even if their gender identity doesn’t match what they were assigned at birth, fear-spreading gloom-mongers have been promising that a plethora of problems can be expected any day now.

They’ve pulled up years-old stories, using every assault ever reported in a bathroom, locker room, or fitting room, to try to demonstrate how, without laws denying bathroom access to transgender individuals, cisgender, straight men will be pouring into ladies’ rooms everywhere, with cell phones in camera mode, and suing anyone who tries to stop them. Further, they’re sure, not only will a stream of teen boys claim they are trans in order to access girls’ locker rooms, somehow grown men are also going to be showering with your underage daughters.

No word yet on how they think these grown men are going to get into the schools and whether they have to also take gym class. (I don’t know a whole lot of grown-ups who’d do the mile again just to see naked people, but then I hope I don’t know a whole lot of grown-ups who are interested in seeing naked underage people.)

Transgender bathroom ruling harms no one, protects kids

I digress, though. The fact is, the first real incident related to transgender students and cisgender students (“cisgender” just means you identify as the same gender the doctor labeled you with at birth, by the way) using the same school bathrooms has been reported in North Carolina. Well, to be fair, calling it a “real incident” is a stretch, but it’s an actual occurrence that happened and was reported by a news station.

It’s nothing like what the fearmongers swore would happen if we trusted transgender students to recognize their own gender and use the appropriate bathroom, though.

It’s not a case of a transgender student assaulting a cisgender student, or a cisgender student claiming to be transgender in order to spy on other kids.

In fact, it’s a simple accidental incident that most of us have experienced at one point or another, and the “victim” — to the extent that there can be a victim of an accident on this level — was actually the transgender kid. What was he the victim of? An accidental walking-in-on.

According to WCNC, a transgender boy entered a bathroom to use the toilet. Another boy, a cisgender boy, opened the door, saw the other boy already there, turned away, and closed the door.

Parents are reportedly contacting GOP Representative Craig Horn to ask how such future incidents can be prevented. He says he thinks that government time and energy could be put to better use than worrying about who is using which bathroom stall. (He’s also on the record stating that his primary legislative interest is education issues.) However, he did vote in favor of passing HB2, the law that would have forced the transgender boy in the above incident into a girls’ bathroom instead, and that started the chain of events leading to President Obama’s warning that transgender protections are indeed a part of Title IX.

Okay, now, this is the big incident that people are up in arms about: a kid was in a bathroom, and another kid accidently walked in on him. If neither of the kids in the incident was transgender, nobody would have even heard of this. As it stands, the person who was walked in on, the transgender boy, isn’t even the one complaining, and he’s the closest thing to a victim in this.

Transgender bathroom access is just part of equal rights.

Instead, it seems, parents who are afraid that somehow this is proof that something might happen bad to their cisgender kids are panicking.

Hands up, how many readers have ever been walked in on by accident? It’s embarrassing, uncomfortable, and certainly not something anybody wants to happen. But it’s an accident. It isn’t rape. It isn’t assault.

At most, this might be a case for better bathroom locks. It’s not clear exactly whether the lock in this case was flawed or a stall door was left open. However, one thing it clearly is not is evidence that transgender bathroom access somehow endangers cisgender kids.

[Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images]