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‘Bathroom Bill’ short-sighted

Dr. Jamie Hughes, Guest Columnist

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Jamie Hughes, UTPB Associate Professor, Psychology, is speaking out as a Midland citizen in this letter.

I am deeply concerned about the paternalistic and discriminatory so-called “bathroom bill” proposed by Dan Patrick. The proponents of the bill suggest that its purpose is to protect women from men who might take advantage of our current lack of bathroom legislation by dressing as women in order to slyly insinuate themselves into women’s restrooms. Of course, these lawmakers provide no evidence that this is modus operandi has ever been employed in an actual sexual assault. While there appears no data (or even anecdotes) about women being harassed or assaulted by predatory men dressed as women in women’s bathrooms, there is evidence that trans men and women are harassed in bathrooms (see: survey) on a regular basis. This kind of legislation emboldens those who would harass trans or non-gender conforming folk attempting to use public services. Proponents of the “bathroom bill” also say they fear for children in public school locker rooms. This is absurd. Private areas exist for girls and boys in locker rooms. Further, the people who are anxious and fearful in school locker rooms are not majority members, confident in their gender identity, but minority members. We should allow young people autonomy to make decisions about their gender identity and which bathroom they want to use. More importantly, people who are transgender do not choose to be a different gender. If one considers the costs associated with being transgender, one would realize that no one would voluntary choose to risk rejection from their peers and family, one would not choose to be stigmatized by their culture, and no one would choose to undergo an expensive and time intensive process to change one’s sex. No one would choose stress, anxiety, and risk ostracism. But we, as citizens, can choose how to treat people. And I think we should choose to treat others, and especially people who are transgender, with compassion.

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‘Bathroom Bill’ short-sighted