A cisgender man in Seattle tried to claim that he is allowed to use the women's changing room at the city's Evans Pool, due to a new state ruling that allows people to choose a bathroom based on their gender identity.
According to pool employees, the man went into the women's locker room wearing board shorts and took off his shirt. Staff noted that they rely both on physical appearance and verbal confirmation of gender, but this man offered neither and just said the new rule allowed him to be there. It seems clear from the information provided that this individual was attempting to use this new ruling incorrectly, perhaps to prove a point (but what?) or rile up people who were already against it.
The recent rule, which was put in place to allow patrons of parks and rec departments to feel comfortable while changing. There is also a matter of safety at stake. Transgender individuals — who benefit from more inclusive rules like this — have a high rate of harassment. According to Lambda Legal, over 50 percent of transgender people have reported being harassed or disrespected in "a place of public accommodation."
A transgender woman should not be forced to change in a men's locker room. Not only is it inappropriate but, as Lambda Legal noted, she runs the risk of harassment or worse. Washington's new rule would allow individuals to use the bathroom or changing room that fits their gender identity. But this wasn't the case at Evans Pool.
This man's "protest" just ends up hurting the greater good rather than doing anything productive. Among the fears that those against the new rule have brought up is that it will invite voyeurs. These awful misconceptions don't help anyone and just further stigmatize those who will benefit.
According to experts, allowing people to use the bathroom or locker room that matches their gender identity, in fact, does NOT increase the risk of voyeurs or sexual predators, and the notion that it does continues to be debunked. Areas that have allowed similar rulings have not seen any increase in these types of behaviors.
Unfortunately, this man has chosen to make a statement that, in fact, only reflects poorly on him. In a time when transgender individuals face harassment and assault at high rates, we should be working on better ways to be inclusive and accommodating. Instead of turning back toward the dark ages (ahem, looking at you, South Dakota), we should be evolving to a point where everyone feels safe, comfortable and respected.
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