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How did bathrooms become a battleground for transgender rights? This short video explains.

If you are just catching up on the anti-transgender bathroom law that North Carolina passed and Tennessee is considering, Media Matters has a great four-minute rundown on where these measures came from and what they get wrong:

The anti-transgender bathroom laws force trans people, who identify with a gender different from the one assigned to them at birth, to use the bathroom that matches the gender they were assigned at birth. So these laws block trans people from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.

The worry is that if trans people are allowed to use the bathroom of their choice, whether through inclusive policies or laws that ban discrimination against LGBTQ people in certain settings, men will somehow take advantage of these measures to sneak into women's bathrooms and sexually assault women.

But as Media Matters's Carlos Maza and the American Civil Liberties Union's Chase Strangio explain in the video, this is "some straight-up right-wing bullshit." The video makes several points:

  1. There are literally zero reports of any sexual assaults happening as a result of states or facilities letting trans people use the bathroom of their choice. In two investigations, Media Matters confirmed with experts and officials in 12 states and 17 school districts with protections for LGBTQ people that they had no increases in sex crimes after they enacted LGBTQ protections.
  2. Putting trans people — particularly those who visually pass as the gender they identify with — in the wrong bathroom can actually expose them to violence or harassment. Consider how most people would react if someone who looks like (and is) a man walked into a women's bathroom or vice versa.
  3. Nonetheless, fears of sexual predators in bathrooms have been used repeatedly in civil rights battles to fight equality. It was used against gay people, who were characterized as creeps who would linger in public bathrooms to trap children. And it was used to stop the Equal Rights Amendment, which tried to establish legal equality between men and women, because opponents claimed it would lead to the abolition of bathrooms for different genders, potentially putting women in danger.

It's really a case of a myth persevering despite the facts. But in this case, it's successfully hindering LGBTQ equality in several states.


Watch: How most states allow discrimination against LGBTQ people

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