The Surprising Data On Who Is Actually Worried About Trans Women Using Women's Bathrooms

Hold up.

A new study shows that it's men — not women — who are most concerned about trans women using the women's restroom.

Rebecca Stones, a recipient of a National Science Foundation China Research Fellowship for International Young Scientists, says cisgender men's comments on articles about trans people's bathroom use suggest that cisgender men see themselves as the de facto protectors of women, which consequently contributes to their transphobia. In her study, Stones evaluated over 1,000 comments on 190 online articles about trans women using women's bathrooms.  

Perhaps most revealingly, what Stones found was that cisgender women were four times more likely than cisgender men to assert that transgender women "do not directly cause their safety and privacy concerns." Instead, they were worried about male predators taking advantage of policies against discrimination and entering women's bathrooms (something, it should be noted, that the American Civil Liberties Union says has never happened "in the history of any nondiscrimination law"). Cisgender men, on the other hand, were more likely to erroneously view trans women as men who were either mistaken or lying about their gender identity. 

The study comes in the wake of North Carolina failing to repeal their controversial HB2 "bathroom bill," which barred trans people from using the bathrooms intended for their gender identity.


People hold signs protesting North Carolina's HB2 law. April, 2016. J. Bicking /

In her findings, which were published in the Gender Issues Journal, Stones notes that her study comes with caveats: namely, that people who are posting comments online tend to have more partisan views and a stronger interest in the subject, which could skew the results. 

Still, the general conclusion — that cisgender men are concerned about trans women while cisgender women are more concerned about cisgender men posing as trans women — is consistent with an earlier study which found that women generally don't support laws to ban trans people from women's bathrooms. 

Transgender advocacy groups say the best way for cisgender women to support trans women is to speak up for them, listen to them, and help address the issues they say they're experiencing. For more information, you can check out the National Center for Trans Advocacy.  

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Cover photo: Shutterstock / Barry Blackburn /  J. Bicking.

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