Studies show that trans people who are forced to use bathrooms that don’t match their gender identity and appearance face greater risks of violence and sexual assault
Trans students at Ohio colleges are calling a proposed bill from Ohio House Republican lawmakers to ban them from using bathrooms that match their gender identity “dangerous,” “scary,” and promoted by a “vocal minority of hate.”
Introduced by state Rep. Beth Lear, R-Galena, and state Rep. Adam Bird, R-New Richmond, House Bill 183 would require students at K–12 schools and colleges to only use bathrooms or locker rooms matching their sex assigned at birth. HB 183 would not forbid a school from having single-occupancy facilities, and it would not apply to someone helping a person with a disability or a child under 10 who is receiving assistance from a parent, guardian, or family member.
More than 100 people have submitted testimony against the proposal.
The bill states, “A school shall designate each student restroom, locker room, changing room, or shower room that is accessible by multiple students at the same time, whether located in a school building or located in a facility used by the school for a school-sponsored activity, for the exclusive use by students of the male biological sex only or by students of the female biological sex only.”
The bill also says, “No school shall permit a member of the female biological sex to share overnight accommodations with a member of the male biological sex. No school shall permit a member of the male biological sex to share overnight accommodations with a member of the female biological sex.”
“Pass this bill and protect ALL students, protect their dignity, protect their privacy, protect their mental health, their emotional health, and their physical bodies,” wrote Lear in her proponent testimony for the bill.
A 2018 study from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law found that there is no evidence that letting trans people use public facilities that align with their gender identity increases safety risks for others. A study published by the National Institutes of Health in 2021 showed that arguments that express concerns about safety are not supported by evidence.
Meanwhile, the American Medical Association has found that exclusionary bathroom policies harm transgender students. Denying transgender students this access endangers their health, safety, and well-being, leads to negative health outcomes, and heightens stigma and discrimination, the AMA has said. The T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard found that 36% of transgender or gender-nonbinary students with restricted bathroom or locker room access reported being sexually assaulted in 2019.
In Ohio in 2022, a Butler County trans man reported being attacked and beaten by a group of men after being advised to use the women’s restroom in a Preble County campground.
The proposed bathroom ban for schools and college campuses, which would force transgender persons to use toilets that do not match their gender identification and appearance, has trans college students concerned about their safety.
Trans college students in Ohio denounce the measure.
Rey Hicks, a 21-year-old trans woman and computer science student at the University of Cincinnati, described the lawmakers and lobbyists behind the toilet ban measure as a “vocal minority of hate” and added to House Measure 183, “It’s dangerous.” It’s scary. It’s uncomfortable.
She also discussed the recent spate of anti-trans bills in Ohio, stating that collectively, these laws would “make being trans in a public space legally impossible, emotionally draining, and incredibly dangerous.” It’s a technique for legislating trans people out of public life.”
Ashley Spelic, a trans woman and media arts student at Ohio University, expressed her frustration with anti-trans legislation in the Ohio Statehouse, saying, “At this point, I’m just mad.”.
Spelic said of her campus’s network of LGBTQ dorms and facilities, “This bill is going to obviously disrupt that whole system; that whole safety net that OU has created.”
“All this bill is going to achieve is more hostility in bathrooms, potential sexual harassment in bathrooms, and very uncomfortable citizen arrests,” she went on to say. “It’s going to make things more messy.”
Elliot Borgatti, a 19-year-old trans man studying media production at the University of Cincinnati, believes the toilet limits will exacerbate trans youth’s experiences.
“All we want is to go to the toilet. “It’s that simple; it’s not that deep,” Borgatti explained. “Gender dysphoria can be really painful at times. Not providing these children with access can be extremely detrimental to their mental health. If we don’t allow people to do what they feel comfortable with, the overall school environment will become more hostile.
Borgatti recognised that he was unlikely to stay in Ohio for long.
“I’m getting out of here the second I can,” he blurted out. “This legislation that’s been suggested, particularly the administrative rules they’re attempting to impose on adult care, is by far the most radical plan for bills among all U.S. states. Obviously, if I am prevented from receiving the treatment that I require, I will have to leave. I don’t really have any choice but to leave.”
Borgatti forewarned that the hostile environment these measures create will result in deaths for those who are unable to flee.
“There will, unfortunately, be a lot of deaths… “There will definitely be blood on people’s hands here,” he stated.
Borgatti is a suicide survivor; his last attempt occurred before beginning testosterone therapy.
“I was hospitalised three times for suicide; it was quite serious. Things improved significantly after I began social transitioning.”
Borgatti stated that transgender individuals will exist regardless of anti-trans legislation.
“You can never completely exterminate trans people, no matter what you do. “We’ll always be there,” he remarked.
Nationwide anti-transgender movement
According to Sean McCann, policy strategist for the ACLU of Ohio, the proposed Ohio ban stems from a statewide effort targeting trans individuals that began in 2015.
“A lot of these bills stem from national organisations that come into different states and present legislators with model language, or maybe the legislator of their own volition goes and pulls language from a bill from a different state,” he told reporters. “There are these national groups that are coordinating attacks on the rights of transgender, gender nonconforming, and intersex people.”
Utah has become the 11th state to approve legislation regulating transgender toilet access.
McCann blamed gerrymandering for the wave of anti-trans laws, despite the advice of scientific, medical, and public health professionals. Gerrymandering produces lawmakers who see no need to modify their minds, regardless of the evidence, he explained.
“We have to trace part of it back to the roots of gerrymandering that empowers legislators with much more extreme views than what many of their districts hold and the voters of our state hold,” he went on to say.