Some folks used to say that “gay is the new black,’ meaning that, while it was wrong to be racist against black people it was kind of okay to be homophobic; times change, people change; marriage laws change.
Now, some folks are saying “trans is the new black,” because, after the passage of marriage equality, making The Gays an inch closer to acceptable in some people’s eyes, a lot of states began passing anti-trans laws, especially regarding the use of bathrooms.
They tried in South Dakota, but the governor vetoed the “Bathroom Bill;” and they’re trying in Washington and Georgia and Mississippi and other places because these wingnuts believe that a trans female will wish to use a female bathroom because she’s actually a male and is some kind of pervert or pedophile instead of someone who just needs to pee.
Last week in Kokomo, Indiana, appearing before the Kokomo Common Council who were meeting to discuss an amendment to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics to the city’s human rights code, Alexander Dean, a transgender high school student, tackled that fear of allowing trans people to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity:
"In regards to people saying that transgender people will be predators to cisgender [non-trans] people, I just want to know why you guys think we're going to be predators, seeing as how the bathroom is our worst nightmare? We go in there feeling as if we’ll be attacked, and we know that people don’t want us there. Why do you guys want us to be hurt more? It’s not right for you to be denying us. I go to sports competitions. I go and change with the guys, because the girls would think that it was weird for a guy to be in there. Why would you want the girls to be freaked out by having a guy in the changing room?"
The idea that trans people have some sort of perverted reason to use the bathroom has been repeatedly debunked by both experts and and law enforcement officials who find that there has never been a single verified report of a trans person assaulting a cisgender person or student in a restroom.
In fact, it’s the other way around, and trans people are more likely to be the victims of harassment. And, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality, restricting trans students to bathrooms based on their "biological” or “birth” sex puts them at risk for increased harassment and stigmatization, while giving them their “own” bathrooms might just single them out even further and increase the likelihood of the trans student disengaging from school or dropping out altogether.
Now, back in Kokomo, despite the fact that a majority of the crowd opposed the ordinance, council members voted 5-4 to approve the LGBT protections on first reading. The ordinance is set for a second reading which will be accompanied by another round of public comment. If it passes that hurdle, it will go to the city’s Democratic mayor, Greg Goodnight, for final approval.
Hopefully, with cool heads, and brains that fire on all cylinders, the amendment will pass and Kokomo will join some 30 other cities in Indiana that proactively offer protections to LGBT residents.
The march goes on …