The Bathroom Bill: Toddlers and Lawmakers Agree

In a display of childlike ignorance, North Carolina State Rep. Ken Goodman muddled the concepts of gender identity and sexual orientation during an interview with NPR Tuesday morning.

The segment centered on Goodman’s support of the recently passed HB2, or “bathroom bill,” which requires people to use the public restroom that corresponds to the sex on their birth certificate, rather than the gender they identify as.

In order to explain his position, Goodman provided the following problematic analogy in the interview, which he dubbed “the best answer” he’d come across on the issue.

“If you ask any 5-year-old kindergarten student, ‘Should you mistreat someone because of who they love?’ they would all say no, but at the same time if you ask the same 5-year-olds ‘Should boys be in girls bathrooms?’ they would also say no. So I think that’s the issue here for a lot of North Carolinians.”

Even if you can get past Goodman’s offensive premise that the matter’s underlying ethical principles are so obvious that even a child can tell you the correct answer, a more troubling issue with his statement surfaces. Goodman seems to be comparing the rights of people to love a person regardless of either party’s gender (sexual orientation) and the rights of a person to identify as a gender other than the one assigned to them at birth (gender identity).

Illustration by Kelsey Lannin / Xpress

Illustration by Kelsey Lannin / Xpress

Is it possible that despite the trans-visibility of celebrities like Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox and the now 51 gender identity options offered on Facebook there are still lawmakers who don’t understand the fundamental issues behind the legislation they support? Apparently, yes.

“It’s often that gender and orientation are conflated,” said Sebastian Ochoa-Kaup, director of the Queer and Trans Resource Center.

Ochoa-Kaup says the confusion may stem from a refusal to think critically about these issues and the real people they affect.

“The trans community is very misunderstood,” said Rumaldo Godinez, director of membership and funds at the Queer Alliance. “A lot of people are just trying to find a label for it and trying to find a definition that will encompass all of it, but the trans community is so diverse. It’s awesome that there’s so much diversity, but a lot of people aren’t able to grasp that.”

With the interview, Goodman essentially joined the intellectual ranks of preschoolers – the only shameful difference being that Goodman is old enough to know better.  

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