Why Do Conservatives Care So Much Where We Pee?

What is it with conservative folks and toilets? Seriously. Remember the good old days when we were debating whether or not people were allowed to marry whoever they wanted, regardless of sex or gender or sexual orientation and no one had to think about when and where everyone else went to pee?

But I guess the Supreme Court effectively put an end to the marriage argument, so now the pearl-clutching sex police need to find another boogeyman. And find one they did. The hot new trend in bigotry is oppressing trans* people.

Of course, it’s not all that new. It’s not as though yesterday people who are trans* were completely and unquestionably accepted by society as the full and complex humans they are.

But recently this personal discrimination has become something of a vendetta in state legislatures across the country, where the vehicle comes in the form of notorious “bathroom bills” that require everyone use the bathroom that corresponds to the sex they were assigned at birth.

Nowhere has this been felt more keenly than in North Carolina, where an inconceivably broad anti-LGBT bill includes one of these bathroom provisions, specifically bathrooms in schools. In fact, one of the reasons this bill was passed – in a special session, no less – was to overturn local ordinances that allow trans* people to use the bathroom they feel most comfortable with.

While the North Carolina law has multifaceted horribleness, it’s hardly the first time bathroom-obsessed conservatives have targeted people in the trans* community.

In February, South Dakota became the first state to pass a bathroom bill, requiring that students attending public elementary and secondary schools use bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms that correspond to their biological sex. (The bill was later vetoed.)

Not to be outdone, last week Kansas passed their own bathroom bill. This bill not only makes it illegal for trans* people to use the bathroom of their choosing in all public elementary and secondary schools and state colleges and universities, but also allows anyone who sees a trans* person in the “wrong” bathroom to sue the school for up to $2,500.

This creates a bounty hunter atmosphere I’d rather not deal with when I’m pooping. (You can voice your displeasure at this development here.)

Is three not enough for a trend? Don’t worry. There’s more.

A bathroom bill in Kentucky finally died earlier this month, as did a similar bill in Tennessee. I’m not done. Transphobic bathroom bills have been put forward in Texas and Florida in 2015 and Missouri earlier this year. Oh, and hello Illinois. Wouldn’t want to be left out, would you? And there are more. So many more.

The good news in all of this is that, while these bills seem to be a popular way to broadcast how intolerant you are, they aren’t really becoming law (except in the case of North Carolina). Both the Kentucky and Tennessee bills died, as did the bill in Florida. The bill in Texas was withdrawn. At the very least, perhaps these bathroom bills will come to be seen at least as a political dead end.

Bills like these are based on erroneous assumptions about the threat trans* people pose to those of us whose gender more or less conforms to our biological sex. This is, of course, ridiculous. (Although I definitely understand why men would want to use a women’s bathroom. Have you been in a men’s bathroom lately? Yuck.) A trans* person would be much more justified in fearing non-trans* people.

Another common justification is that people who do not identify as trans* might feel embarrassed or uncomfortable sharing a bathroom space with a trans* person. This is baffling. How entitled do you have to be to think that your vague sense of uneasiness trumps…anything?

And where does this uneasiness come from? It comes from within. It comes from internalized myths that tell us that trans* people are predators and just out to fool everyone when the fact is that they just want to pee.

Despite the fact that few of these bathroom bills have become law yet, the fact that these bills have found significant support at the state level is distressing, but not really surprising. The last few years have seen the rise of trans* stars like Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner and have brought trans* issues front and center. Of course there’s blowback.

But there is reason to be hopeful. These bigoted bills have spawned a heartening response from trans* allies. The #I’llGoWithYou hashtag and Facebook page is a partner to #WeJustNeedToPee. Allies of trans* people offer to go to the bathroom with trans* people to keep them safe. It’s an imperfect solution, but it shows that the bigotry and hate spewed at trans* people is not a universal state and it can be combated.

So, the state of things is bad. Anti-trans bigotry is accepted in way too many statehouses across the country. But, as usual, I don’t think these bills necessarily reflect how people view trans* people, and that gives me hope for the future.


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill1 years ago

Patty K is right! It's about protection, that and privacy. I don't want men in the ladies room with my little girl or with me! And that goes with women in the men's rooms with my little boys!

Marcia Geiger
Marcia Geiger1 years ago

Beats me. They seem to miss the important issues...again

Karen H.
Karen H1 years ago

For those who think HB2 protects women, sexual predators use many disguises, the most common might be "coach" or "friend" or "teacher" or "neighbor" or even "family member". If law enforcement is so intent on protecting women from sexual assault, why are so many rape kits unprocessed? Why aren't our politicians passing laws that demand the kits be processed within a reasonable amount of time after they're collected? If politicians are so concerned, why aren't they doing something about the wrist-slaps and short jail sentences for convicted rapists? And what about people who don’t "look" like their gender? A short-haired, flat-chested girl wearing jeans was verbally assaulted by someone who thought she was in the "wrong bathroom". Does this mean HB2 and bills like it want women to go back to wearing dresses? This is not protecting women.

Patty K.
Patty K1 years ago

Do you not get the fact that pedofiles and perverts will be using this as an excuse to assault women and we will not be safe in the LADIES room.

faith v.
faith v1 years ago

I'll go with Karen H. - some people are WWAAAAAY too interested in other people's private (parts) lives!

Karen H.
Karen H1 years ago

Conservatives are fascinated by bodily functions. Where people pee. How people have sex. Remember when Ted Cruz wanted to outlaw dildos? His goal was "discouraging prurient interests in sexual gratification, combating the commercial sale of sex, and protecting minors." Cruz's office declared, "There is no substantive-due-process right to stimulate one's genitals for non-medical purposes unrelated to procreation or outside of an interpersonal relationship." I wonder how he planned to enforce the law without invading people's privacy and breaking laws against voyeurism. Conservatives are waaaay too interested in things that don't concern them.

Danuta Watola
Danuta W1 years ago

thank you for the good article

ERIKA SOMLAI1 years ago


Heather O.
Heather O1 years ago

Marianne C. Thank you for the clarification!! :D Seems to be a strong mix of sex (physical) and gender (not necessarily physical. I know there's a word, but my brain isn't braining yet.).

I totally agree with your whole post and thank you!! I love it too, obviously. It came out of her mouth while discussing the laws in California schools at the time; bathrooms and locker rooms. Her other big disgust with all the whining from people who think if you have the sex organs you should use the facilities only for those sex organs is, "It's just the human BODY, people!! What are you so afraid of???" Can't really put enough emphasis on those words, she is quite thoroughly consternated by all the trans-phobia and such like.