A new first-of-its-kind study has found that trans bathroom access does not correlate with an increased risk to public safety.
The research provides concrete evidence against anti-trans rhetoric which posits that allowing trans and gender diverse people to use the bathrooms which reflect their gender will cause an increase in bathroom-related crimes, The Boston Globe reported.
The study was conducted by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, which focuses on issues around gender identity, whose researchers collected data across two years prior to discrimination laws took affect across the state.
The upcoming November 6 election in Massachusetts will see the law put to a ballot, with campaigners focusing on the issue of bathroom safety in their attempt at a rollback of trans rights.
The question marks the first ever public referendum on trans rights in the United States – taking place in the same state which first legalised same-sex marriage.
“It really takes the wind out of the sails of our opponents who have been trying to paint this false picture,” said Matthew Wilder, spokesperson for the Freedom for All Massachusetts campaign fighting to keep the law.
Campaigners insinuated that the study was biased as its results had not been sent to the campaign opposing the law, but the researchers behind it say the possible outcomes would not have impeded the study’s release.
“We talked about it before we started this research: What happens if we find out there is some sort of danger in this law?” said the study’s lead author Amira Hasenbush.
“If we had found one, we would have published that, too.”
“Reports of privacy and safety violations in public restrooms, locker rooms, and changing rooms are exceedingly rare,” the study notes.
The study points out that police are seeing an increase in “peeping Tom” cases but this rise is associated chiefly with the miniaturisation of technology.
“If people — transgender or not — go into these spaces with the intent of committing a crime, they are still going to be prosecuted. There are still laws that prohibit that,” Wilder said.
Trans bathroom rights have been the subject of significant controversy in the US following the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality, in much the same way public attacks on trans people have gained momentum in the wake of Australia’s legalisation of same-sex marriage.
Last month, a school in Colorado had to be shut down after parents threatened the life of a trans 12 year old who used the bathroom matching her identity.