The transgender bathroom debate took America by storm in 2016, causing a roaring debate on whether transgenders should use bathrooms specific to the gender that they were born with versus the gender that they identify with. The debate broke into action when North Carolina issued a law that restricted people using a bathroom that was different than their biological sex. The law quickly created a backlash from several major corporations such as the NBA and the NCAA. Today, about 51% of Americans stand with a belief that transgender people should be able to use the bathroom that they currently identify with, however a gaping 46% take the opposite position. It is important to note that age, gender, and namely for this article, religion, play a role in these percentages.
It is found that if a person attends a religious service on a regular basis, say weekly, they are more likely to say that transgender people should use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender when they were born. People who don’t attend a religious service regularly or who are not religious, usually have the opinion that transgenders should be able to use the bathroom that they currently identify with. With these beliefs, we must ask why religion is playing such a large part in this issue.
North Carolina’s passing of the bathroom bill hits mainly the Christian based religion. Throughout the years, Christian conservatives have had a special place within the American law. Years back, minority liberties were of little concern to the religion. However once the Supreme Court started dismantling Christian privilege, the liberty they had religiously was a means to get back the pros that they once had. It seems now that Christians have taken the offensive on the transgender bathroom issue due to some moral authority they used to have, but are having trouble doing so due to the 1st Amendment of the Constitution, because although it protects personal religious belief, it also allows for others to have opinions, characters, and beliefs, in this case, on the transgender issue.
To extend on the conservative Christian approach on this topic, which again lies in the belief that transgenders should use the bathroom that corresponds to the sex on their birth certificate, let’s take a look at another law that was passed, but this time in Oklahoma. One of many, Oklahoma lawmakers have proposed a bill to allow kids in school to use the bathroom that they identify with, rather than the one that is on their birth certificate, as long as it is due to “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Christians had an uproar over this due to the reasoning behind, asking questions of why some religious beliefs are cause for certain action/bathroom privileges while other beliefs don’t stop so from happening. They say that allowing children to use the bathroom of their choosing is biblically wrong and is a possibly serious public safety issue.
With safety in mind, allow us to take a look at another state that is taking action on this issue. In Massachusetts, legislators have made it possible for people to use the bathroom of their choice in all public areas, including movie theaters, locker rooms, and yes, churches. The issue that is raised is if this is a slippery slope of sorts, and if this is promoting immoral behavior. It is said that this is not the case, however, and that it is important to allow individuals to feel comfortable with their gender, which extends to which bathroom they feel fits best with their identity. In an article labeled “The Real Reason the Religious Right Opposes Trans Equality. (It Isn’t Bathroom Predators)” by Mark Stern, he states just what the headline reads – the predator myth is a myth, not a fact, and not an extreme concern. He states that conservative Christians have no actual instances of a situation where a sexual predator was as a transgender person just to gain access to a certain bathroom to commit a crime of sexual assault. He states tat the fear of sexual assault doesn’t lie within the crime itself, but rather in the belief that is rooted in religion.
Christians often refer to the story of Adam and Eve to argue against a gender change, where they state that a man should be a man and a woman should be a woman. However there is no actual scripture that reads that transgender people are sinful in some way. Eliel Cruz of the Huffington Post believes that these bathroom bills aren’t about religious beliefs, but rather about personal transphobia fears.
Despite the bill that was passed in North Carolina, it is obvious that there is continued action in the matter of allowing transgender identities to use the bathroom that they identify with. The religious beliefs have no significant roots to restrict this access, and the action that is continually happening to promote sexual identity should be viewed as positive. With a world that is constantly changing, we too need to keep an open mind and an open view of things that shape our world, from transgender issues and beyond.
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