Some politicians and commentators have justified bills (like North Carolina’s HB2 legislation) that restrict transgender people’s access to restrooms, locker rooms, and other gender-specific public facilities by claiming they’re necessary to protect women and girls from sexual violence and harassment. Know Your IX firmly rejects the argument that anti-trans bathroom bills prevent sexual violence and strongly favors laws and policies guaranteeing transgender people equal rights and dignity in education, including in accessing facilities that match their gender identity. As advocates fighting sexual assault on campus and beyond, we know that bathroom bills don’t prevent gender-based violence; they exacerbate it. Here’s why:
Transgender Equal Rights Bills Don’t Cause Sexual Assault
Half of Americans already live under state or local laws which protect transgender people in public places—including by allowing them to use bathrooms and other public facilities consistent with the gender they live every day. Despite this, right-wing politicians can’t point to any evidence of a public safety threat in the 17 states and hundreds of cities that have implemented transgender non-discrimination protections. Neither can anyone else; a 2014 Center for American Progress report found that “law enforcement officers in […] jurisdictions with protections found no increase in rape or sexual assaults stemming from gender identity and expression nondiscrimination laws.”
Bathroom Bills Put Transgender People At Risk
The Center for American Progress found that 70% of transgender people surveyed experienced harassment, discrimination, or even physical violence in a public restroom. Bathroom bills force transgender people to out themselves by going to restrooms inconsistent with their gender identities—putting them at a greater risk of hate violence. Because transgender people are verbally harassed or assaulted in public bathrooms, many trans people avoid using them, which puts them at risk of health problems like kidney infections or urinary-tract infections.
HB2 does nothing to protect women who are not transgender from sexual violence; instead, it put transgender women forced to use the men’s restroom at a higher risk of harassment and physical violence themselves.
Bathroom Bills Prevent Transgender Students from Accessing Their Education
Title IX’s prohibition of sex discrimination in education means that schools are required to address gender-based harassment and violence—whether that’s sexual assault or the bullying of a trans student—if it is so severe or pervasive that it affects a student’s ability to get their education. That’s why Title IX requires schools to let transgender students use the restrooms, locker rooms, and other gender-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity; so trans students can participate fully in all the educational opportunities their school has to offer.
One study in New York found that 75% of transgender students reported verbal harassment over the course of a single year, and that one in three had been physically assaulted; as a result, more than half at some point avoided school for fear of harassment; 15% were forced out of school altogether. Bathroom bills send the dangerous message that transgender students, and their gender identity, shouldn’t be respected—the same message that leads to bullying, harassment, and violence against transgender students.
What We’re Saying
- National Consensus Statement of Anti-Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Organizations in Support of Full and Equal Access for the Transgender Community
- Alexandra Brodsky, New York Times: Don’t Use Girls As Props to Fight Trans Rights
- Know Your IX: Survivor Activists Reject Anti-Trans Discrimination
What We’re Doing
Know Your IX supports the many active campaigns for full equality led by transgender rights organizations. Visit the following pages to take action and support trans students:
- The American Civil Liberties Union: LGBT Rights Project (ACLU)
- The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE)
- Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF)
- In 2016, IX-Bootcamp members helped campaign to pass a Massachusetts transgender non-discrimination bill—and it passed! To volunteer with grassroots campaigns for LGBT equality, sign up here.
- Office for Civil Rights, Department of Education: Examples of Policies and Emerging Practices for Supporting Transgender Students
- CSPAN.org (video): Justice Department Responds to North Carolina Lawsuit. See a written copy of Attorney General Lynch’s remarks here.
- Chase Strangio, ACLU.org: The Fight Against North Carolina’s Anti-LGBT Law Heads to Court
- Katy Steinmetz, Time: Why LGBT Advocates Say Bathroom ‘Predators’ Argument Is a Red Herring
The above resources are intended to help you determine if your school is in compliance with Title IX. Although these resources have been written with the guidance of legal experts, we are not lawyers, and the information on this website does not constitute legal advice. We encourage you to contact a lawyer to discuss your complaint or suit.