Opponents of allowing trans people to use toilets aligned with their gender identities often cite fear of safety and privacy violations in public restrooms as reason for their opposition. A study now – conclusively – says that this fear is baseless/unfounded/erroneous.
In “Gender Identity Nondiscrimination Laws in Public Accommodations: a Review of Evidence Regarding Safety and Privacy in Public Restrooms, Locker Rooms, and Changing Rooms” – written by Amira Hasenbush, Andrew R. Flores and Jody L. Herman and published in Sexuality Research and Social Policy – it was found that “fears of increased safety and privacy violations as a result of nondiscrimination laws/policies (in sharing public spaces such as restrooms) are not empirically grounded.”
To determine whether a relationship exists between nondiscrimination laws/policies and crime, the researchers focused on Massachusetts in the US, where at the time of the study some localities had transgender-inclusive public accommodation laws and others did not. The data were collected before the passage in 2016 of Massachusetts’ statewide nondiscrimination law that protects transgender people in employment, housing and public accommodations.
The research team compared cities and towns with similar characteristics that had such laws to those that did not. They then examined police reports of assault and privacy violations in these localities both before and after the laws came into effect.
The result – and to emphasize: There is no evidence that letting transgender people use public facilities that align with their gender identity increases safety risks.
It is worth noting that with the often close association of transgender struggle with access to the restroom, an earlier study found that 30% of people (24% of the women and 38% of the men) felt that transgender people should be required to use the restroom that matches their assigned birth gender.
The silver lining: This same study found that a growing number (48%) of those polled (55% of the women and 43% of the men) said that trans individuals should use the restroom that matches their identity. Twenty-one percent of the respondents (22% of the women and 19% of the men) said they were unsure.