Throughout the recent debates regarding which bathroom transgendered people should use, trans advocates have issued one constant refrain. They have insisted that the idea anyone would use the law to dress as a woman and invade women’s private spaces is a myth. Last November, Richard Rodriguez was arrested for dressing as a woman and peeking in stalls in the women’s room at Virginia’s Potomac Mills Mall. This was no myth. This was all too real.
In the wake of this arrest and others like it, we must examine whether laws like Charlotte, North Carolina’s non-discrimination ordinance allowing trans women in the women’s room would legalize these kinds of peeping activities. One thing is clear: in the Potomac Mills incident, Rodriguez’s use of a camera to film women would be illegal regardless of his gender. But would trans bathroom laws allow him access to bathrooms and locker rooms provided he was not filming? The answer is at best murky.
In a Twitter exchange with me, Richard Yeleson, an editor at Dissent magazine, said:
Yeleson is referring to the much-maligned North Carolina law that effectively overruled Charlotte’s decision on trans bathroom use. The suggestion here is that Charlotte’s law never intended to allow someone like Rodriguez to put on a dress and enter women’s facilities. The “class of people” it refers to is transgendered people, and Yeleson says Rodriguez is not transgender. But how does he know that? Furthermore, if Rodriguez, or a predator like him, say he is trans, how can they be proven not to be?
Many Americans, including me, do not believe a person born as a man can be or become a woman. But it is clear that some states and localities in our country have chosen to accept that concept as real. Thus it is absolutely necessary that our society and legal system devise a definition for transgender. Thus far, that definition seems to be “people are transgender if they say they are.” This is not good enough, as clearly Rodriguez and his ilk could use such a definition to defend themselves. read more