In Texas and beyond, conversations over so-called “bathroom bills” continue to escalate. These policies are designed to affirm or deny an individual’s right to use public facilities (particularly bathrooms) that correspond to their gender identity as opposed to the sex they were assigned at birth. Because these conversations often focus on safety and sexual violence, it is very likely that you and your organization will be asked about your position on the matter.
TAASA is concerned, first and foremost, about supporting all survivors of sexual violence and eliminating the potential for sexual violence to occur wherever it exists in our state. As advocates, we oppose any law or policy that is likely to put people at greater risk of violence. Bathroom bills, like HB2 in North Carolina and others, do nothing to ensure safety in public spaces or prevent incidences of sexual violence. These bills leverage existing myths and fears that, in the end, further marginalize the transgender and non-conforming communities, and will increase the likelihood of additional violence targeted at these communities – including sexual violence. We believe it is crucial to counter the misinformation being used to obscure the reality of sexual assault.
Below you will find a set of talking points to bring clarity to the conversations in your community and help solidify your position as an ally in the movement.
- More than 200 municipalities in the US and 18 states have enacted nondiscrimination laws protecting transgender people’s access to facilities consistent with their gender. None of those jurisdictions has experienced a rise in sexual assault, abuse, or other threats to public safety due to transgender people’s access to facilities.
- Support for “bathroom bills” emphasizing the risk of sexual abuse against women and children in public restrooms contradicts decades of research on sexual assault.
- 93% of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker.1
- 70% of sexual assaults are committed by a perpetrator known or related to the victim.2
- An overwhelming majority of perpetrators who target children groom their victims over a period of time.
- 84% of sexual victimization of children under age 12 occurs in a residence. Even older children are most likely to be assaulted in a residence – 71% of sexual assaults on children age 12-17 occur in a residence (Snyder, 2000).3
- Between 50 and 66 percent of transgender people have experienced sexual violence, often accompanied by other physical assaults or abuse.4
- Forcing transgender people into facilities inconsistent with their gender puts them at significant risk of violence. Transgender women are 60% more likely to experience physical violence and sexual violence than other survivors.5
- Evidence-based measures to protect children from sexual abuse would focus on the highest-risk venues—private homes, not public restrooms—and the highest-risk perpetrators—heterosexual males, not transgender and gender-nonconforming people.
- Bathroom bills divert much-needed and limited resources away from services for survivors.
- 45,000 sexual assault survivors are served by Texas’s 117 sexual assault programs each year, yet more than half lack the resources to meet demand in their community, with waiting lists reaching up to three weeks. Policymakers concerned with public safety should allow the evidence concerning sexual violence perpetration to guide their decisions.
The issues of sexual assault and the realities of transgender communities are both highly misunderstood. These “bathroom bills” further propagate myths and misinformation about sexual violence and misrepresent the transgender and gender non-conforming communities which increase the likelihood of these communities being targeted for violence. As advocates working to eliminate sexual violence in Texas, presenting factual information in response to these bills, and in community discussions, is paramount.
1 U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. 2000 Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement. 2000.
2 Busch-Armendariz, N.B., Olaya, D., Kerwick, M., Wachter, K., Sulley, C. (2015). Health and Well-Being: Texas Statewide Sexual Assault Prevalence. The University of Texas at Austin, Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault: Austin, Texas.
3 Snyder, H. N. (2000). Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement: Victim, Incident, and Offender Characteristics. National Center for Juvenile Justice NCJ 182990. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics.
4 G. Kenagy, 2005, “The Health and Social Service Needs of Transgender People in Philadelphia, Int’l Journal of Transgenderism 8(2/3): 49-56; G. Kenagy and W. Bostwick, 2005, “Health and Social Service Needs of Transgendered People in Chicago, Int’l Journal of Transgenderism 8(2/3): 57-66; J. Xavier, J.A. Holland, and J. Bradford, 2007, “The Health, Health-Related Needs, and Lifecourse Experiences of Transgender Virginians,” Richmond, VA, Community Health Research Initiative, Virginia Commonwealth University.
5 Jindasurat, C., Waters, E., (2014)., Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and HIV-Affected Intimate Partner Violence in 2014. National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs: New York, New York.