No matter what one thinks about religion, the preponderance of religions are founded on some aspect of fear. Whether it is fear of losing a deity’s love and favor, or fear of the deity’s wrath for not complying with its orders, fear defines religion. In America, the religious right has bypassed any kind of fear of a deity and instead used it to drive its adherents to terrorize other Americans. Republicans in particular have embraced religion’s fear factor to pass hateful legislation that denies large segments of Americans’ rights including women’s reproductive rights, gays’ constitutional right to marry, and most recently women’s rights to urinate in a public bathroom set aside for use by women.
Now that the furor has “sort of” died down over same-sex couples marrying and opposite-sex marriages have not vanished, Republicans and their evangelical cohort have targeted transgender people. It is a sad commentary, but religious Republicans in Texas and North Carolina have convinced a segment of the population, including law enforcement, to deny women the right to use a public restroom because their gender was questioned. What will eventually be a new cause célèbre for religious Republicans is demanding a “bathroom ID” before women are allowed to urinate, defecate, ‘powder’ their noses, or take care of “personal women’s stuff” in a public restroom designated for use by women.
There have been, at least, two separate incidents recently where a woman was accosted in a public restroom because they were mistaken for a transgender person. Add to that abomination, there are at least two Texas cities attempting to pass North Carolina-like “bathroom laws” because Texans are apparently terrified of men dressed as women sneaking into women’s bathrooms to watch their mom, sister, grandmother or daughter go into a stall and do their number one or two business. Seriously, some Americans are off the rails over fright of women.
In one case that appeared to have occurred a couple of months ago prior to North Carolina passing its bigoted ‘bathroom law,’ three law enforcement officers barged in to a women’s bathroom to confront, manhandle, drag out and evict a young woman before she could do her “bodily function” business. The lady was not a transgender person; she was a young woman wearing a baseball cap out with her girlfriends for an enjoyable evening. Throughout the confrontation and assault by three police officers, the young lady’s friends were screaming at the officers to “get out of the women’s bathroom” and that their companion “is a girl.”
It is important to note that this particular incident happened before the hysteria-driven North Carolina bathroom law due to the religious fear-mongering that began in earnest in Texas. Because Texas legislature has not yet passed a state-wide bathroom law, it is being reported that at least two Texas cities are working on their own bathroom laws to allow law enforcement officials to terrorize “women who identify as women” when they use a public restroom. In one Texas city, the fear-mongering worked so well that a citizen to matters into his own hands.
Late last week a woman, Jessica Rush, was waiting inside the Baylor Medical Center to have two broken fingers attended when she made the mistake of deciding to use the women’s public restroom. Instead of “taking care of business” without incident, Ms. Rush experienced what the Dallas Observer said was a “dramatic encounter with a self-appointed bathroom cop.” When Ms. Rush headed to the bathroom, some man followed her into the bathroom to “intervene” because Rush sports short hair and was not wearing a dress; as if that would have mattered. Rush, like the woman roughed up and thrown out of a woman’s restroom, is “a woman who identifies as a woman” and not a transgender person; a fact that should not matter.
The man who confronted Ms. Rush never apologized for stalking and confronting the young woman trying to “go to the bathroom,” and he justified his perversion by feigning concern for his mother; even though his mother was NOT in the bathroom. The unidentified man said,
“The point is I was helping my mom. I was confused when I see someone entering the woman’s bathroom looking like a man. Each one of us is man or woman so … I wanted to make sure she was going to the right place. Because in times like these, you can never be too careful.” The frightened man later elaborated that his main concern was that a man had dared to enter the same bathroom his mother was probably going to use at some point during her visit to the medical center.
These bizarre incidents are bound to increase exponentially and particularly among frightened Texans who are in a state of war since Target stores’ announcement that employees and customers are allowed to use restrooms according to their gender identity. What that means is women can use women’s bathrooms without showing ID and stripping down for a genital inspection by religious bathroom police.
In Texas, a Republican state Representative, Matt Shaheen, announced that because Target refuses to discriminate against women, or deploy male bathroom police, he was introducing a bill that prohibits any city in Texas from enforcing non-discrimination ordinances; particularly if they allow any person to use the restroom according to their gender. Only women will be affected though because it is Texas; a religious Republican stronghold full of frightened evangelicals.
Transgender people have been using restrooms according to their identity for as long as there have been public restrooms. The only reason it is an issue today is because the Supreme Court ruled that according to the Fourteenth Amendment, same-sex couples can enjoy the same equal rights as opposite-sex couples. Having failed to legally discriminate against gay Americans, the religious Republicans turned their attention to transgender Americans; particularly those identifying as women.
One knows this latest religious attack on Americans’ civil rights is a monumental distraction, but it is also driven by fear and innocent women are now being singled out for citizen and law enforcement “policing.” It is difficult to see any peaceful or civil resolution to this latest religious-driven attack on women, but it will not be a shock if women are required to carry a birth certificate, state-issued gender ID, and just to satisfy the religious right’s prurient lust; a public physical genital inspection by the local male preacher.
Don’t believe it can happen in America? Then consider that less than a year ago women were not accosted in public restrooms by male civilians and police; a fact that leads one to believe that male bathroom police are the only perverts here because there have not been any reports of bathroom patrols targeting men’s bathrooms to inspect men’s genitals.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.