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Transgender Bathrooms

Dr. Lisa Lawless

Dr. Lisa Lawless, CEO of Holistic Wisdom
Clinical Psychotherapist: Relationship & Sexual Health Expert

Flag Transgender Bathrooms

What Is Gender?

In this volatile time in our history, it is never more important to be educated about sex education, which includes gender issues as well as sexual assault. When we speak on such matters, we should do so based on scientific facts, as anything less is a disservice to humanity.

Our sexual identity is more than just our genitals, and behavioral endocrinology substantiates this. It includes chromosomes, hormones, internal and external reproductive organs, and secondary sex characteristics. A penis does not make a person a male, nor does a vagina indicate a female. Our sexuality is so much more complex than our genitals, so it is essential to stop thinking of our sexual identity in such simplistic terms.

Chromosomal Variations Beyond Male & Female

If one walks around insisting there are only two biological genders, they are simply not educated about basic biology. Even chromosomally speaking, there are many variables, here are just a few:

  • There is a 1 in 500 to 1,000 chance of being born with male genitalia but having female characteristics. This includes having no facial hair, being shorter, having reduced muscle tone, and producing little or no sperm. This is called Klinefelter syndrome (Klinefelter's, KS, or XXY), where boys are born with an extra X chromosome. 
  • 1 in 4,500 to 1 in 5,000 live births have XY gonadal dysgenesis (46, XY). Individuals with this condition have typical male sex chromosomes but are phenotypically female or have ambiguous genitalia.
  • There is also a 1 in 1000 chance of being born with an X chromosome anomaly, with 5 to 10 individuals born with this condition daily in the United States. Females usually have two X chromosomes (one X chromosome from each parent). In triple X syndrome, a female has three X chromosomes. Those with this condition have ovaries that don't work correctly at a young age (premature ovarian failure) and are often quite tall for a girl.
  • During fetal development, the SRY gene (sex-determining region Y protein), which is responsible for triggering the formation of male genitalia, can sometimes be absent, leading to individuals with male DNA but none of the associated physical traits. This occurs in 1 in 30,000 to 1 in 80,000 live births and is known as Swyer syndrome.
  • Additionally, all brains in the womb are initially the same until a surge of hormones causes them to develop male or female characteristics. The end result may not always correspond with the individual's physical traits (sexual differentiation of the brain).

Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome

Less common chromosomal challenges can be seen in Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS), which is a condition that affects sexual development before birth and during puberty and impacts less than 1% of people. It is often not detected until a woman goes through infertility testing and finds out that what is causing her infertility is that she has the genetic makeup (XY) of a male but the physical traits of a female.

There are two forms of the condition:

Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (CAIS): Affected individuals typically have female external genitalia. However, they do not have a uterus or ovaries and are unable to conceive a child. These individuals usually have normal breast development and have a shorter-than-average height for females. Internally, they possess undescended or partially descended testes, often surgically removed because they can become cancerous.

Partial Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (PAIS): This form of the syndrome can result in genitalia that is typically ambiguous, meaning it's not clearly male or female. The features of PAIS can vary widely even among members of the same family and can range from a slightly masculinized clitoris to a slightly undersized penis.

Gender Is Not Just Chromosomes

Most people's understanding of biology is based on old research where gender expression was primarily seen as a dichotomy of male and female. Over thirty years ago it was determined that gender identity is far more biologically complex, and it continues to evolve and change.

What science has proven is that gender is based on a spectrum of various gene mutations, hormonal expressions, secondary sexual characteristics, and more. It is far more complicated physiologically than most people understand. 

Your chromosome determination influences hormones that change chemical neurotransmitters in your brain, so your thought process on your gender is a biological influence that causes neurons in your brain to fire and affects your entire nervous system.

Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia

Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH) is a group of inherited genetic disorders that affect the adrenal glands. This condition is generally diagnosed at birth or during childhood and can result in a range of symptoms and physical manifestations.

These can include ambiguous genitalia in female newborns (genitals that aren't clearly male or female), rapid growth, early or delayed puberty, excessive facial hair and/or body hair in females, severe acne, male-pattern baldness in women, and infertility.

CAH is a lifelong condition usually managed with medications, such as glucocorticoids, which help replace or suppress overproduced hormones.

Can Sex Be Changed?

An ignorant belief is that people cannot change their sex, and is often a talking point used against trans people. In reality, gender in humans is a construct with spectrums and variables and does not have fixed characteristics.

It is based on a set of spectrum variables with a bimodal distribution where we draw an arbitrary set of boundaries, but they are not unchangeable characteristics. The truth is that many sex characteristics can be altered through hormones or surgery.

Basic Sexual Identity Terms

It is vital to understand specific sexual terminology when it comes to sexual identity:

What Is Cisgender?

The most common is cisgender, which means that a person feels that their gender corresponds with the sex assigned to them at birth.

What Is Transgender?

In contrast, someone who is transgender and gender non-binary (TGNB) people are defined as having gender identity that is not aligned with their sex assigned at birth.

What Is Nonbinary?

While most people have a gender identity of male or female, for some people, their gender identity does not meet the criteria of either one, which is commonly referred to as being nonbinary.

Confirming One's True Sexual Identity

Some people erroneously think that transgender people choose to change their gender. Instead, it's about confirming their true identity and living authentically. Being transgender indicates the complexities of humans, not pathology. The goal in acknowledging this is to relieve the distress associated with the differences between their gender identity and physical body.

Transgender Bathroom Laws

Transgender and nonbinary people face a great deal of scrutiny, particularly when it comes to transgender bathroom rights. Typically, this occurs when there are concerns that male sexual predators will use bathrooms dressed as a woman to target a child or woman when the transgender bathroom debate comes up.

However, statistics show that it is cisgendered males who commit sexual assault more than any group. This indicates that individuals who are born male and self-identify as male are statistically the primary focus of concern.

It should also be acknowledged that such incidents involving men disguising themselves as women to commit assault is so uncommon it is difficult to find anecdotal evidence of them, let alone a study that indicates there is need for concern. This is because sexual assaults predominantly take place when the perpetrator is presented as male. 

Furthermore, the majority of transgender individuals are victims of assault rather than perpetrators. The likelihood of a transgender person committing such an act is so low that it is not a significant factor when examining public policies.

The most crucial point that we need to understand is that when someone brings up transgender or binary people using a public bathroom versus sexual predators, you are not referring to one issue; instead, you are referring to two completely separate issues that have statistically are not relevant to one another.

Discrimination Based On Appearances

For those who may look more masculine or feminine than your sex, even if you are not trans, you too may be at risk. There have been women with more masculine features and men with more feminine features harassed as well. This issue extends beyond the transgender community, as it also represents discrimination against those who do not conform to societal expectations.

An Example Of Ignorance

Recently, an example of such ignorance was easily seen when a trans male (born female but transitioned to male) went on social media. They posed the question in response to the trans bathroom bills by showing a video of their male face and asking, "Am I what you want in the women's bathroom?"

What Was The Point?

The point was that they present as a male, so going into a women's bathroom may make women feel uncomfortable despite that they still have a vagina, had given birth while they still presented as a woman, and were born female.

Because they have transitioned into looking like a male and are passing by taking testosterone, growing facial hair, and having all the outward appearances of being a male, it would cause concern for some if they went into the women's bathroom.

Trans Men Exist

Responses from uneducated and violent people were plentiful, threatening that they would kill them before letting a male like them into the women's bathroom room. Many erroneously assumed that the trans person posing the question was born a male and wanted to enter a woman's bathroom.

Because of their ignorance that trans men exist, they completely missed the point. Instead of looking like a protector of the innocent, they were acting like an ignorant bully.

They have missed the irony that they are forcing this trans male who was born a female and looks like a man to use a woman's bathroom and, in response to this trans male doing as they have demanded, are now threatening their life.

The Important Message

First, threatening someone is never ok. Second, laws that force trans people to use a bathroom that corresponds with the sex they were identified as when they were born after they have transitioned may put trans people at risk for violence against them. Understand that they simply want to exist and be able to use the bathroom. 

What Sex Offenders Really Look Like & How They Actually Target Kids

Having worked for rape crisis and dealt with sex offenders and pedophiles, let me assure you that sex offenders are people who look just like your neighbor, average churchgoers, and people whom you work with every day.

The most common way they attack children is in relationships that allow them to groom children and have long-term contact with them rather than a one-time attack. It is also usually done by someone the child knows and has known for a long time, like a family member, friend of the family, or professional caregiver.

A one-time attack is typically a rapist, not necessarily a pedophile. A rapist does not need to dress up to rape you because they can just as easily find a way to isolate you in a parking lot, alley, or even in your home.

Seriously, try to find the statistics of how many rapists dressed up as women and then went to the bathroom to sexually assault someone, go ahead, open another browser and look.

Can't find the statistics showing plentiful numbers of these assaults? That is because this is not a problem.

Do you know what is a serious problem? People we know. Of sexual abuse cases reported to law enforcement, 93% of juvenile victims knew the perpetrator:

  • 59% were acquaintances
  • 34% were family members
  • 7% were strangers to the victim

You have most likely met a sex offender and had no idea. It is a myth that a person must look differently and be easily identified to do something so horrible.

If you want to know what a sex offender looks like, look in the mirror because they look just like you or anyone else you see in your world. It is disturbing because the truth is that a pedophile, sex offender, or rapist is not going to stand out. They will be your minister, camp counselor, doctor, coworker, and even a friend.

You are not going to know who they are by their appearance. Trust me when I say, as someone who has professionally interacted with sexual predators, it is shocking how average they appear and, in many cases, are quite charming.

The First Time I Met A Real Pedophile

The first time I met a pedophile is forever etched in my brain. It was when I was fresh out of college and worked as a counselor in a group home for sexually abused children. The court allowed supervised visitation to one of my female patients by the biological father, who used to make her perform fellatio on him and other sex acts along with her stepmother.

I nervously waited for this man to arrive, anticipating him to resemble Charles Manson with a crazed look in his eyes. Surely, I would see his evilness in him. I was confident that meeting him would assist me in identifying such traits more easily in the future.

He showed up looking so non-threatening and normal looking. He was charming and polite. He seemed respectful and kind. I remember thinking, dear god, how would anyone know? It haunted me. It still haunts me.

Trans People Are More Likely To Be Victims

It is time to stop discriminating against diverse people because of ignorance and the false idea that you can identify someone who would cause you or those you love harm. You can't. Furthermore, trans and nonbinary people are FOUR TIMES more likely to be victims than cisgender people.

What typically makes someone a sexual predator is the repression of healthy sexual education and support. The very thing that often is suppressed because of societal apprehensions related to sexuality.

What We Should Really Be Concerned About

A family member or someone the child knows perpetrates the majority of child sexual abuse including neighbors, friends of the family, babysitters, teachers, coaches, and preachers. Only 7% of child sexual abuse is committed by strangers, which is staggering.

Numerous studies on sexual abuse and atypical sexual behavior show that men with feelings of shame and guilt surrounding sexuality, as seen in extreme religious beliefs and in roles of clergy, often exhibit sexually deviant behavior. Such an example is seen with French clergy sexually abusing over 200,000 children since 1950. 

When there is enough repression, it becomes like a steam cooker which is often seen with an explosion of unhealthy sexuality such as sexual abuse, rape, pedophilia, and at the very least, a lot of hypocrisy.

Ignorant politicians who enforce archaic laws by evoking unsubstantiated fears against healthy sexuality are also a big problem. Attacking science-based, and empowering forms of sexuality causes people to repress their sexuality, which often becomes problematic due to the psychological laws of repression.

That is why sex education is important, and the need for compassion and a non-shame-based understanding of human sexuality is essential. People who promote uneducated and bigoted theories that trans people are sexual perverts create hate, fear and ignorance.

We are all impacted by sexuality every day and live in a culture that often vacillates between overly superficial sexuality and repression of sexuality, with very little focus on what is healthy.

Trans People Using Bathrooms Is Not New

The truth is, you have already used the bathroom with transgender people and like you, they just want to go to the bathroom. Please stop confusing people who are transgender with people who exhibit sexually deviant behavior.

Throughout history and across cultures, transgender and gender non-conforming individuals have long been part of society and using bathrooms. Examples of trans people being represented across different cultures in history are:

  • Hijras (South Asia)
  • Two-Spirit (Native American Cultures)
  • Fa'afafine (Samoa)
  • Sworn Virgins (Albania)
  • Kathoey (Thailand)

The only reason that people think it has become an issue is because some politicians decided to use it to gain political power and manipulate people into thinking there is one. It is a clever yet unscrupulous tactic to create fear and distract from things that really matter to people, like their finances, healthcare, housing, and more.

Loaded words have long been used in persuasion tactics so lumping in the word pedophile when talking about trans people even when there is no evidence to support concerns about that is carefully used to create fear. Until we make some serious changes in critical thinking and evaluation of what is being marketed to us via politics, we will continue to be a society full of ignorance and hate.

So ask yourself why this has not been an issue before when you have been using the bathroom with trans people for as long as we have had bathrooms. Transgender people did not show up last week. 

Do you think that transgender people have not been using the bathroom of the sex they identify with all this time? If you do not think so, you are wrong. They have, and there have not been problems. Hysteria, bigotry, and ignorance are now causing problems, and THAT is the real issue.

The Dangers

Considering the sacrifices, hardships, and risks trans and nonbinary people go through to embrace what they know to be correct in their brain and body, even when that conflicts with a genital identification at birth, is quite challenging.

If you do not believe this takes courage, consider dressing as the opposite sex and try to pass as such; feel the trepidation, fear, and stress it puts on you, and at the very least, attempt to have some empathy.

Keep in mind that trans people are often beaten and have their lives put in jeopardy for doing something as simple as going to the bathroom should they choose a public restroom that conflicts with their outward appearance.

Having Empathy

Try and imagine how hard this would be if you were trans or nonbinary, and you simply wanted to use the bathroom. Keep in mind that choosing one that conflicts with your outward sexual appearance could endanger your life.

Religious Beliefs

If you delve into any religion, most require that you be nonjudgmental, loving, and compassionate toward other people. If one is not behaving this way toward other human beings, perhaps it is time to work on being less judgmental so as not to contradict the teachings of one's own religion.

Those who consider themselves morally superior to someone else and derive pleasure from the suffering of others (schadenfreude) are not psychologically healthy. It is often seen in those with low self-esteem and may indicate narcissism, low empathy, and a lack of compassion, as seen in bullies.

Even if it is not a religious issue, one can be respectful to others by simply being a reasonable and decent human being that practices the golden rule of treating others as they would wish to be treated.

You are accountable for how you treat others in this life regardless of your beliefs.

In Closing

I've always believed that the world is what we make of it, and it is through understanding intricate matters that we create a meaningful existence. The world is not a simplistic, binary space; rather, it is abundant in diversity and richness. When we do not stop to exhibit critical thinking and are unaware of our biases, we cause harm to ourselves and others. We must do better.


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