An independent investigation debunked the right-wing myth that non-discrimination protections for transgender people threaten women's safety, citing officials from states that have had such protections for years without incident.
In a February 10 article, the independent, non-profit journal Crosscut investigated the widely debunked claim that non-discrimination protections for transgender people endanger the safety of women and children, allowing sexual predators to sneak into public restrooms by pretending to be transgender. The investigation came in response to recent criticism from anti-LGBT activists in Washington State, who condemned transgender non-discrimination protections established by the Washington State Human Rights Commission.
Crosscut reporter Tom James contacted officials in three neighboring states with existing non-discrimination laws to ask if the “bathroom predator” horror story had come true. Officials from all three states reported that their civil rights laws hadn't been linked to any crimes, echoing the collective experience of advocates for victims of sexual assault, a Pulitzer-prize winning columnist, and experts in 15 states with similar laws:
Legislators seeking to roll back a recent ruling on transgender rights have warned of safety risks to women. But how much evidence of trouble is there?
Officials in Nevada, Oregon and Hawaii say that similar rules in the three states haven't been linked to any crimes. Two cases cited by a Republican lawmaker as justification for the bill took place in Toronto, under rules different from those in Washington.
Officials in three nearby states with similar protections in place, however, said they hadn't heard of the rules being abused that way.
“I've never heard of anything like that,” said William Hoshijo, executive director of the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission. His organization oversees the protections in the state, and has been involved with public discussions and discussions with lawmakers about the issue repeatedly since the protections were enacted. In those discussions, he said categorically, he has never heard a specific instance of such a crime.
“I've never heard, even from opponents, a specific example of an instance of sexual assault” where the perpetrator claimed protection under the rules, Hoshijo said.
Hawaii has had rules protecting transgender bathroom access in place for 10 years.
Oregon has had similar rules in place for nine years. Charlie Burr, a spokesman for the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, said the agency would have heard of complaints or crimes related to rights protections, and that it also hasn't received or heard of any.
A Las Vegas police department spokesman said that the department has seen no rise in sex crimes relating to protections for transgender bathroom access since rules there went into place in 2011. The most recent check on the issue was performed in 2014, said the spokesman.