A new study by the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy showed that there is no viable evidence that allowing transgender people to use the public restroom of their choice increases potential violations of privacy or crime.
Williams Institute researchers used Massachusetts as their stomping grounds for the study.
Massachusetts has been in the news lately since Gov. Charlie Baker signed an an anti-discrimination bill into law in 2016. The law included protections for transgender people on this topic, as well as housing discrimination, employment, and other public accommodations.
Some critics of the bill argued that trans-inclusive spaces would allow people with “evil intentions” to “prey on the vulnerable.”
One group in particular, called Keep MA Safe, has attempted to repeal the bill – and even succeeded in including a vote on the November midterm ballot specifically on this issue.
According to the study, “a thorough review revealed that only a small number of cases actually involve perpetrators who were transgender, perpetrators who falsely claimed to be transgender, or perpetrators who attempted to disguise themselves as a member of the opposite sex to gain restroom access.”
Lead researcher Brian Barnett is a psychiatrist in Cleveland, Ohio. He had a few choice words regarding the study’s findings.
“We found only one instance – one! – of a transgender perpetrator in an alleged sex crime in a changing room,” he wrote in an op-ed for HuffPost.
“Likewise,” he wrote, “we found just one case where a man (who, frankly, sounds like a provocateur) allegedly entered a women’s locker room without disguising his gender in any way and stated that a new local law expanding transgender bathroom access allowed him to be there.”
The Washington State Human Rights Commission clarified afterward that the law in no way protected his behavior and that he was, in fact, a provocateur.
“The safety concerns of those opposing the expansion of transgender bathroom access aren’t based in reality,” Barnett wrote in the same op-ed.
“With millions of Americans using public facilities daily, there is simply no reason to be concerned about sharing bathrooms with the country’s 1.4 million transgender citizens or worry about what might happen if they are legally permitted to use the bathroom of their choice,” he wrote.
The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Sexuality Research and Social Policy.