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Pennsylvania Township Bans "Public Accommodations" Discrimination; Bathroom Panic Ensues

Ladies-Room-1Last Thursday evening, the "municipal commission" in Susquehanna Township, PA, voted to ban employment, housing, and "public accommodations" discrimination against LGBTs. Media coverage of the vote was mostly sane and sober. But, as The Advocate reports, one local news channel got weird:

“The ordinance also makes it legal for men who think they’re women, and also men who think they are women, known as transgenders, to use the women’s/men’s restroom in the township,” reported WHP-TV, a CBS affiliate. The station’s reporting spent a great deal of time on public restroom use — including the possibility that some nontransgender men would don women’s clothes in order to use women’s restrooms for voyeuristic purposes.

... which, when you think about it, reflects the station's dim view not only of transfolk, but of hetersexual males, too. Apparently, they believe Susquehanna is home to some significant number of straight men who've been eagerly awaiting precisely this kind of municipal gaffe so they can listen to ladies pee. What a strange place.

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Comments

  1. "What a strange place."

    Why yes, yes it is. But then look at the Sandusky/Penn State scandal.

    Posted by: Marc C | Dec 10, 2011 11:42:51 AM


  2. I'm from this place and it's 1000 times less weird than New York.

    Posted by: Jack | Dec 10, 2011 12:16:06 PM


  3. Believe it or not, there is a very good reason public restrooms are sexually segregated. Heterosexual rape is a real problem - not just something made up by bigots.

    Posted by: Patrick Wellington III | Dec 10, 2011 12:36:37 PM


  4. I live in Susquehanna Twp (right outside of Harrisburg) This does not surprise me at all. This area is allll rednecks.

    Posted by: Ian | Dec 10, 2011 12:42:59 PM


  5. No one denies that rape is a real problem, only that public accommodations for trans individuals will add to that problem.

    If the station in question could come up with real accounts of men donning women's clothing to sexually assault or harass women in places where trans individuals have these protections, they might have a leg to stand on.

    Such accounts are thin on the ground though, so the media in this case seems to be substituting irrational fear and scary hypothetical stories.

    Posted by: R Lavigueur | Dec 10, 2011 12:54:39 PM


  6. The local AFA of PA nutjob, Diane Gramley, has been inundating the media with her "news" releases that all center on "special potty privledges" whenever a PA municipality even mentions trans nondescrimination. She finally got someone else to run with it.

    Posted by: Bob | Dec 10, 2011 12:59:54 PM


  7. Kudos to Susquehanna Township for passing (by a bipartisan 7-1 vote) the non-discrimination ordinance. Don't let the sensationalist reporting by our 4th place news station take away from it or to disparage the entire area as some of you are doing.

    Posted by: Jw | Dec 10, 2011 1:29:24 PM


  8. Men in general, I'm talking gay and straight, don't get why this bothers women because:

    1) you're strong enough to defend yourself from attacks, or at least better equipped to than we are...
    2) you don't fear rape in parking lots, bathrooms, etc. women have gotten raped in store changing rooms, bathrooms on turnpikes, etc.
    3) you have no problems with nudity...you go shirtless in the summer and pee beside each other in public restrooms all the time.

    it's a more complicated issue for me because while all of you laugh about the possibility of a pervert dressing up as a woman to use our bathrooms as a predator, this does indeed happen.

    Francis may have heard about this, but there's this bazaar on 95 just north of Richmond where a man dressed as a female removed a little girl about 4 years back by hiding in the bathroom that her mother felt safe letting her go into by herself (no outside exit). The man wore heavy clothes and padding like a larger woman, duck taped her daughter's mouth and had her under his clothes.

    Luckily they locked the place down in time and he couldn't get away with her, but the little girl was so traumatized that she didn't talk, didn't want to leave her house, etc. This isn't an urban legend. She want to my church and taught religious education courses to my daughters and explained to me why her child no longer spoke.

    I'd rather do away with gender-based public bathrooms, make larger "family" unisex bathrooms. I'm forced to use the handicapped bathrooms because of this. I'm petrified that my kids would finish peeing before me and someone steal my daughters.

    The world isn't a safe place. Those of you who have children know this... :(

    Posted by: Rin | Dec 10, 2011 1:54:24 PM


  9. I can understand that a woman may be concerned about a rape situation in a bathroom. However, does access to the bathroom by a transgendered person really increase that possibility? If a man is disguised in drag to rape a woman, and can pass as a woman, that could happen today, regardless of the laws affecting transgendered people.

    Posted by: candideinnc | Dec 10, 2011 2:34:37 PM


  10. I doubt the law requires men to dress up like women, it simply allows all men to use women's restrooms as a practical matter. And of course, being the only place for miles around with this law, all the crazies will go there. The final point is that transgendered men should have no problem using the men's restroom, or we convert men's restrooms to unisex ones (a label change mostly). (Andy Rooney time: why are they called unisex bathrooms?? They were unisex restrooms, now they are unsexed or bisexed restrooms, depending on how one sees the issue.)

    Posted by: anon | Dec 10, 2011 4:06:53 PM


  11. "men who think they're women... etc."

    That's the problem right here. As long as this kind of things are said, transgender rights will never advance.

    Also for the crazy paranoids: If someone wants to hide in a bathroom stall, they will. If someone wants to rape a woman, very unfortunately, they will, or at least try to. No matter what law there is - if a law was the answer, there would be no rapes, since rape is illegal. Also, the number of rapists of this kind is really, really low. 90% of children molested are by SOMEONE THEY KNOW. So stop the paranoia and care about the actual risks.

    I don't understand America and this paranoia sometimes. Like, a different-gendered parent bringing their kid either with them or in the other bathroom - how is that a problem?? Anywhere else in the world it's considered normal. ANYwhere but in the US.

    Posted by: G.I. Joe | Dec 10, 2011 4:09:46 PM


  12. Could one you people freaking out over this please post some - any! - documentation that passing public accommodation laws that includes transexual persons leads to an increase in men dressing up as women to sneak into women's restrooms? (And no, Rin's anecdote is not one because Virginia does not include transfolk in their non-discrimination laws, so even if it did happen, it's irrelevant to this issue.)

    Posted by: Jw | Dec 10, 2011 4:36:22 PM


  13. this topic is newly interesting to me b/c my mom has dementia & i'm often needing to take her into public bathrooms to help with her toileting issues. I am also a physically big man, whom i'm sure women would not want to see walking into their bathrooms. Sometimes i'll find a "family" bathroom, like at a Wegman's grocery store in Fredericksburg, but generally it's very stressful trying to manage both my mother's urgent hygiene needs as well as the public perception of what's going on with me leading a woman into a restroom.

    Posted by: Daniel | Dec 10, 2011 6:33:25 PM


  14. I work in Susquehanna Twp. Which is directly north of Harrisburg City and sometimes I use the women's bathroom because someone is always in the men's room and there is only one toilet per room. It should be noted that WHP's studios are in Susquehanna Twp. and, that they also run the conservative WHP-AM radio station that is full of homophobic bile. The television station, a CBS affiliate, airs the 700 Club weekday mornings at 9am.

    Posted by: some homo | Dec 10, 2011 7:33:53 PM


  15. Rin makes a convincing argument for shutting down mixed-gender shopping malls...

    Posted by: BobN | Dec 10, 2011 7:46:58 PM


  16. So segregating restrooms prevents rape? Why don't we segregate by gender every location where a woman can be raped? Maybe the orthodox Jews and fundamentalist Muslims have the right idea....

    If it weren't for silly prudery, we'd have unisex restrooms.

    Posted by: Jeff K. | Dec 10, 2011 9:20:07 PM


  17. Many public restrooms in larger cities are unisex, are lockable and have only ONE toilet, a sink, and a changing table for infants. In larger crowd areas, there are multiple, separate units, each with a locking door.

    No stalls, no urinals, no hiding places.

    This will become the new normal, eventually. It solves all the problems about gender, rape, abduction, etc.

    Posted by: johnny | Dec 11, 2011 9:56:05 AM


  18. Rin seems to have serious issues with critical thinking:
    The anecdote actually makes clear that the policy does not work as Rin believes. Such anti-discrimination provisions don't protect men who simply cloth as woman.

    Transwomen don't just feel that way because they are enarmored with the thought of being female. This kind of characterization in the story is similar to insinuations that being gay might be a choice.

    The person claiming that transgender men can use the men's bathroom: Correct, but not the way you think. Transmen are female-to-male.

    Male-to-female transgender, however, have to fear violence including rape when using the men's bathroom.

    Posted by: Chris AE | Dec 11, 2011 11:42:38 AM


  19. It seems either way this goes, someone is going to get raped, either if women use the men's room or men use the women's room. What a conundrum!

    Posted by: anon | Dec 11, 2011 4:08:32 PM


  20. Except that it's improper to refer to transwomen as men. And it's extremely unlikely that a transwoman would rape another woman.

    There's also no reasonable explanation how discrimination of transwomen prevents men from raping women.

    Why are people so eager to repeat the propaganda of the religious right?

    Posted by: Chris AE | Dec 11, 2011 4:13:45 PM


  21. I support the anti-discrimination law, but it has nothing to do with gay people. Gays and lesbians are not transsexuals or crossdressers and it is offensive to say that they are linked to those phenomena.

    LGBT is a lie. There is no such thing as LGBT.

    Posted by: Dana | Dec 11, 2011 4:28:19 PM


  22. "I support the anti-discrimination law, but it has nothing to do with gay people. Gays and lesbians are not transsexuals or crossdressers and it is offensive to say that they are linked to those phenomena.

    LGBT is a lie. There is no such thing as LGBT."

    What we have in common is that to bigots and conservatives, we're all the same. When I came out to my family as trans, they assumed I was gay. I was asked "So, do you want to suck dicks? Because that's the only reason anyone would do this."

    I would like to know why it's offensive. Because trans people are disgusting freaks and to be thought to be one is the worst insult possible? Sure sounds like that's what you're implying.

    And you know what else we have in common? A lot of trans people ARE gay/lesbian/bi. I'm bi. I called representatives in New York when SSM was being discussed, I spoke about it to friends and strangers, swatted down lies and misrepresentation when I saw it.

    I would have hoped the LGB community would be more accepting, would know what it feels like to be treated this way and be more open-minded and inclusive. It has been repeatedly disappointing seeing comments like Dana's.

    Trans people are on your side. It would be really neat if you were on ours.

    Posted by: Maggie | Dec 11, 2011 11:52:32 PM


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