Ever since North Carolina passed House Bill 2 in March, whether or not transgender people should be allowed to use the restroom of their choice has become one of the country’s most politicized issues. While N.C. Governor Pat McCrory and the U.S. Justice Department sue each other into oblivion, the Obama administration’s recent ruling that all trans students at public schools across the country must be allowed to use the bathroom of their choice has ignited yet another battle — this time with Texas Governor Greg Abbott. Hence why Late Night host Seth Meyers decided to tackle the brewing controversy with his show’s popular “A Closer Look” segment.
Like many other news and comedy programs, Meyers gave a quick rundown of where things currently stand. Some of the information is stuff many of us already know, but Meyers really sets himself apart from the rest by delving into the country’s “long history of using bathrooms to scare people,” and the beginnings of gendered bathrooms in the 1800s. From the first men’s and women’s restrooms, to Jim Crow laws and the AIDS-induced public scare in the ’80s, many have used public bathrooms as a battleground on which to brandish their misogyny, racism and homophobia:
“When conservatives claim that trans people are preying on children and that they shouldn’t be allowed to use the bathroom they want to use, it’s not a response to an actual problem. It’s an age-old scam used to mobilize people against a vulnerable minority group. But attacking someone who’s different than you doesn’t make you a protector of children. It makes you a villager in a Disney movie. You know who actually needs protection? Trans people.”
Meyers followed up his statements about protecting transgender people, and not the hypothetical innocent children being paraded around by Republican politicians and pundits, with statistics pulled from a recent Washington Post article debunking five major myths about the transgender community. The first myth addressed? That “transgender people pose a threat in public bathrooms.” According to op-ed columnist Jack Drescher, a practicing psychiatrist “who specializes in gender identity and sexuality,” such a belief is “flat-out wrong.”
For example, many cities and schools in the state of Maryland ban bathroom discrimination of any kind. Using PolitiFact numbers, Drescher undermined this conservative claim with the fact that “there have been no reported cases of such laws leading to harassment.” Instead, bathroom bills like HB2 might actually prove dangerous for trans people, as 70 percent claimed in one study they’d been “harassed, assaulted or denied access when attempting to use a public bathroom.”