Originally published at The New York Times
Relatively few Americans considered bathroom access a civil rights issue until last week. They deserve to hear the arguments pro and con before making up their own minds. Much remains to be said and learned about the issue; truncating this conversation just as it is beginning is wrong (and arguably violates the Administrative Procedure Act).
Here are just a few questions that people might have asked before making up their minds. How uncomfortable are people with the prospect of those with different anatomies sharing their bathrooms? Is this discomfort likely to grow or decline? Since gender identity cannot be confirmed before entering bathrooms, how great is the risk of voyeurism or other abuses? How costly will it be to provide gender-neutral bathrooms, and how would people of all genders feel about such alternatives? Will market pressures such as the boycotts against North Carolina’s bathroom regulation produce a better mix of solutions than the government’s one size fits all?
And how many transgender people actually experience indignity when using traditional bathrooms, and what is the nature of this indignity? Discomfort about using a urinal when men at nearby urinals think one is a woman? Annoyance at having to wait for a stall to conceal one’s anatomy?