The Bathroom Panic of 2016

by John MacBeath Watkins

In the immortal words of Bruce Eric Kaplan, who does New Yorker cartoons as BEK:

"I used to be innocent. Then I was naive. Now I'm just dumb."

That's how I feel now that I've seen more stories on the Bathroom Panic of 2016. On April 20, I wrote what I thought was a satire on what enforcement of the North Carolina bathroom laws would look like. Now I learn that people are already facing enforcement that is far beyond a joke.

A woman was forcibly removed from a women's room by three police officers before I even wrote that piece. They kept demanding identification to prove that she was a woman. Having watched the vid, I don't see why there was any question about her being a woman. Her feathers are feminine, even if her clothing on this occasion was not.

Another woman was confronted by a man who followed her into the women's room because he mistook her for a man. And no, he did not apologize when he found out he was wrong.

A security guard at a Washington, D.C. grocery store faces assault charges after physically expelling a transgender woman from the store's women's room.

Ebony Belcher, the transgender woman in the incident, said the female security guard followed her into the women's room, laid hands on her, called her derogatory names, then said, "You guys cannot keep coming in here and using our women's restroom. They did not pass the law yet."

The guard apparently felt that she had an obligation to enforce the fact that there was no law regarding which bathroom a transgender woman should use.

Most of the time, if there is no law, there is no way to break it.

But apparently, for the 700,000 transgender people in the U.S., there are those who think the law doesn't work that way.  There are about 320 million Americans, give or take. That's a little over two transgender people per 1,000 Americans. So, who should feel threatened? The two, or the 998?

The transgender people I've met seem more vulnerable than threatening. But maybe that's the point. If they were powerful, they would not be suitable targets for the sort of bullying we're seeing.