The Instigator
Pro (for)
3 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Transgender Bathroom Rights

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/1/2016 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,529 times Debate No: 92194
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (10)
Votes (1)




Full Resolution: Individuals should not be banned from public bathrooms that do not correspond to their sex.

I contend that transgender people should be allowed to use their choice of public bathroom.

I will begin my arguments in Round 2. I prefer to debate someone with experience.

If you are restricted from accepting this debate but have an interest, let me know!

The first round will be for my contender's acceptance. Good luck.


This is a fantastic topic and I just can't get enough of it. I'll be taking the Con side, as well as playing devil's advocate. This means I'll be arguing against the resolution that "individuals should not be banned from public bathrooms that do not correspond to their sex."

I'll be making the assumption that the burden of proof is shared. This topic is based more in opinion than fact, in most ways. As such, it does not make sense to place the burden of proof on a single person (as opposed to a more scientific or existential topic.)

Positional Statement

For balance, I won't be posting my arguments until round 2. For fairness, I'll be giving my opponent a "heads up" on the position I am taking in this debate.

I am not claiming that individuals should always be limited to the bathroom matching their sex. Rather, I will be arguing that said right should be circumstantial and based upon something that has little to do with the transgender individual(s) in question.

I look forward to debating the legendary Danielle and I await her opening arguments.
Debate Round No. 1


Many thanks to my opponent for accepting this debate.

1. Context

A. The U.S. is one of the most "prudish" countries in the western world; that is we adhere to strict and rigid social norms about what is socially acceptable when it comes to sex and gender, specifically compared to our peers in Europe [1]. Many European countries are open about sex and do not stigmatize social nudity [2]. As such, they recognize that there is nothing inherently grotesque, or more importantly harmful, when it comes to mixing the sexes.

B. Being transgender is very complicated; it's not a frivolous identity. Law makers have oversimplified this discussion by suggesting it "just makes sense" to use the bathroom that matches your biological sex. This is a fallacious bare assertion. Indeed gender is very complex and there are many factors (social and physical) that determine one's valid gender identity. It is NOT dictated by biological sex [3].

2. Transgender Rights

Why is it important to let transgender people choose their bathroom?

A. Transgender people experience insufferable discrimination and psychological hardship [4]. Some people believe they suffer from a condition called body dysmorphia [5]. Why make life harder (unnecessarily) for these people who are already experiencing so much pain and suffering?

B. Transgender people often go through great pains to look like the opposite sex; many spend thousands of dollars on surgeries to dramatically transform their bodies. I would like to submit the following photos as examples of transgender people: female) female) female) male) male)

As you can see, these people do not at ALL look like their (atypical) sex.

Transgender people would be tared at, ruthlessly mocked, confronted and violently attacked (history shows) if they used the bathroom that matches their biological sex, because most people would assume they were using the "wrong" bathroom.

Indeed, even if my opponent argues that only transgender people who have had sex change surgeries ought to be allowed to choose their bathroom, how would any bathroom goer know whether or not this person had the surgery? More about this later.

C. The primary reason it's important that trans people can select their bathroom is to protect their physical safety. Last year, a Congressional forum investigated what they called an EPIDEMIC of violence against transgender people [4]. The number of hate crimes against trans people has more than tripled in the last 2 years [5]. Much of this violence specifically stems from mistakes of gendered bathroom identity.

Chrissy Lee Polis was viciously attacked by two teenagers as she entered the women’s bathroom at McDonald’s, after her attackers recognized Chrissy is transgender [6]. More than 70% of trans people have experienced violent intimidation and/or confrontation while using the bathroom; some were even denied access [7].

"There were health consequences for respondents as well, with 54 percent reporting physical complications like dehydration, urinary tract infections, kidney infections, and other kidney problems simply because of the tactics they used to avoid going to the restroom during the day. Many health facilities also have gender-segregated restrooms, which discourages individuals from seeking treatment for these conditions. As many as 58 percent have avoided going out in public at times because of bathroom concerns" [7].

Trans people suffer from transphobic bathroom policy, and have every reason to fear for their safety.

3. The Case Against Trans Rights

A. Socially conservative people who feel uncomfortable need to get over it. The law exists to protect people's rights, not their feelings. I personally feel uncomfortable by our money saying "In God We Trust" and having God in our Pledge of Allegiance; after all I am an atheist and our country is supposed to value a separation of church and state. Yet despite everything I'm uncomfortable with (including crocs, goth music and vegans), I have to coexist and recognize the rights of my fellow man. I can choose to stay home or avoid places where my discomfort poses a problem. These people's feelings aren't any more relevant than the feelings of trans people that ought to be considered. Trans people actually suffer psychological harm from rejection and condemnation of their gender identity [8] as opposed to just icky feelings which is childish.

B. The biggest reason people oppose trans bathroom rights is because people are (allegedly) worried about women's safety. However this fear is completely unwarranted based on both statistical and logical analysis.

First and foremost, let's consider whether or not gendered bathrooms would actually stop someone from committing sexual assault. Since rapists and voyeurs obviously don't care about breaking the law, it's naive to think gendered bathroom signs would be a deterrent. These people are already raping or voyeuring regardless of what the law or signs say.

Second, people claim they are worried about their daughters peeing next to pedophiles. Why aren't people worried about their sons peeing next to pedophiles? The majority of pedophiles are cis gendered males, not trans, and we could arguably and reasonably suspect or notice when a cis gendered male enters the women's room.

Most rape does not occur in public places, and occurs by someone that the victim actually knows [9].

"Over 200 municipalities and 18 states have nondiscrimination laws protecting transgender people’s access to facilities consistent with the gender they live every day,” according to the coalition. "None of those jurisdictions have seen a rise in sexual violence or other public safety issues due to nondiscrimination laws. Assaulting another person in a restroom or changing room remains against the law in every single state" [10].

Furthermore, anti-trans policies do not take into account that men can also be victims of sexual assault and harassment in public bathrooms. Transgender men who have had to use female restrooms due to such anti-trans laws experience a ton of violence in women’s bathrooms, and are told they don’t belong there. Why is violence against these people (which is real rather than theorized) any less significant?

4. Pragmatic / Legal Reality

A. Let's assume that my opponent suggests only trans people who have had sex changes ought to be able to choose their preferred bathroom. One, this discriminates against people who cannot afford to have the ridiculously expensive procedures it takes to transition. Two, this is not realistically enforceable. Once again, how would anyone know whether or not someone had sexual reassignment surgery, unless they were a doctor who could recognize such surgery AND asked any suspect to get naked in a public bathroom? There is no real way to implement this policy nor any realistic expectation of who to enforce it and how.

B. Sexual organs alone often cannot distinguish gender. In fact there are lots of intersex conditions. “Intersex” is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male [11].

C. Even if Con suggested making someone strip naked in a public bathroom to check their genitals, this is not Constitutional. U.S. citizens are protected from unreasonable searches by the 4th amendment [12].

D. The Supreme Court has set a precedent when it dealt with 1996’s Romer v. Evans. The Court explained that the Equal Protection Clause forbids a state from “singling out a certain class of citizens” and “imposing a special disability upon those persons alone.” Such a law is “inexplicable by anything but animus toward the class it affects,” and under the 14th Amendment, “animosity” toward a “politically unpopular group” is not a “proper legislative end.” Anti-trans bathroom policy “identifies persons by a single trait”—gay or trans identity—“and then denies them protection across the board.” The Equal Protection Clause cannot tolerate this “bare desire to harm” minorities [13].



I'd like to thank the opponent for her well researched and thought out response. I'll begin immediately into argumentation.


Many of the things the opponent has said about transgender people are true. And I certainly agree, individual rights should be protected. However, the "bathroom issue" that transgenders face is so often looked at in the inappropriate light that it can be difficult to see whose rights are being violated.

A public bathroom is one that is generally accessible to the public. I will be providing a distinction here between government operated public bathrooms and business operated public bathrooms. I will not be discussing bathrooms of the latter type, so assume all my "bathroom" arguments refer to those bathrooms furnished by private businesses. In demonstrating that transgenders do not necessarily have the right to use these bathrooms effectively clashes against the resolution, as the opponent is defending the transgender's right to all public bathrooms.

Note that this is not an argument from semantics. "Business operated bathrooms" account for the majority of "public bathrooms", as business buildings are far more common than government buildings. As such, I am not arguing a technicality, but rather a point that applies to the majority of public bathrooms.

Business Owner Rights

I contend that a business owner's right to control their own business outweighs any right that society believes transgender people should have.

Concerning the law, business owners have the right to run their business in any way that corresponds to the law. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits private businesses from discriminating based upon race, color, religion or national origin. [1] Notably, this does not include "gender" (or even "sex".) As such, businesses have no legal obligation to not discriminate against transgender people.

While some may find it disconcerting that such "discrimination" is allowed, one has to remember that businesses are the property of individuals. No individual, no matter how silly or idiotic their belief, should be forced to behave in some way just to fall in line with societal norms.

If a business owner does not want transgender people using the bathroom matching their gender identity, or using the restroom at all, they have the right to bar said group from using the restrooms that they own. It cannot be argued that transgender individuals somehow have more or equal ownership of a business' bathroom than the business owner them self.

The harm of what this implies

As the opponent has pointed out and as the evidence shows [2] bathroom assaults very rarely happen. In the words of my opponent, "Most rape does not occur in public places, and occurs by someone that the victim actually knows." While this certainly indicates that transgender people are not a threat to cisgender folks, it equally indicates that cisgender individuals are not a threat to transgender people.

The opponent can not simultaneously uphold the ideal that "bathroom assaults are rare" and that "transgendered individuals face great danger in using the bathroom opposite their gender identity". The two are mutually exclusive. While hate crimes may be escalating against transgender individuals, bathroom policy will not greatly impact this.

Using the same logic as the opponent, a predator (or someone who wants to hurt a transgender person) will likely hurt said transgender individual regardless of the laws that are in place or which bathroom the transgender person uses. While I certainly agree that the hate against transgender individuals is appalling, there simply does not exist evidence that bathroom laws will in some way change this reality. (One can look at the status of gay people, before and after gaining more rights, and see if those laws made gay people any safer or less apt to be harmed.)

The Law

Again, I'll simply mention that the law completely allows for business owners to "discriminate" on the grounds of gender identity. A business owner can eject loud patrons, it can bar entry from individuals wearing "no shirt, no shoes" and it can bar entry to bathrooms (or the facility) by transgender people.

Note that the opponent's referenced "Equal Protection Clause" applies to the state, not individual businesses.

Mitigating Factors

Simple economic factors ensure that transgender people will still have access to bathrooms matching their gender identity. (These referenced economic principles will be assumed as common knowledge until (and if) the opponent objects.)

When you bar a particular group of people from using your service, they will naturally try and find the service elsewhere. Businesses that cater to these "common discriminated against" people, they find an increase in their customer base. This is reflected in many businesses like Target [3], Starbucks and Barnes & Noble [4] who all allow people to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.

Given this fact, it cannot be said that a lack of "bathroom laws" will somehow inhibit a transgender person from using a public bathroom, should the need arise. If there is an "emergency", there are many businesses who have decided that transgender people can use the bathroom of their choice.

The opponent may argue that this is "unfair", but it's still a reflection of the reality that transgender folks have a pragmatic solution to the problem of finding a bathroom to use. (Ie, the health "harms" that the opponent mentions will not apply, since transgender people will have options.) Whether it is actually "fair" or not is somewhat subjective, but entirely irrelevant. Businesses do not exist to provide you with a "fair experience"; they exist to generate revenue for the owners and shareholders.


I have demonstrated that businesses do have and should have the right to decide how they operate their business and that the law supports said right. I have shown that transgender people do not have more of or an equal right to a businesses bathroom as the owner, meaning it is not their decision how said bathrooms are run.

I have furthermore shown that the opponent claims that the lack of bathroom laws presents some danger to transgender folks is unreasonable, given her own logic and the preponderance of evidence which shows bathroom rapes/assaults are very uncommon anyway. Lastly, I showed that there exists a pragmatic solution to this issue in that transgender people can easily find a business supporting transgender bathroom rights if there arises the need.

I look forward to the opponent's response.


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Debate Round No. 2


Response to Con's Position

Unfortunately (but perhaps not surprisingly) my opponent has chosen to argue a somewhat semantical position in this debate. He specifies that transgender individuals should not be allowed to use the bathroom of their choices in PRIVATE institutions. However, I've already addressed this and stated my position in Round 1.

"I contend that transgender people should be allowed to use their choice of public bathroom."

Clearly I was referring to public (non-private) bathrooms. This debate is specifically in reference to the bills like HB-2 in North Carolina, which look to bar transgender people from using public (non-private) bathrooms. For my opponent to accept this debate with the specific intent of arguing semantics is somewhat abusive, but more importantly, just kind of annoying and questionable conduct.

Nevertheless, Con argues that "public bathrooms" refer to bathrooms that are open to the public in general. We have no reason to assume that standard. Consider the fact that public urination is a crime [1]. If Con's vernacular were correct, public urination would be equal to peeing in any restroom that is open to the public. However the law does NOT distinguish public urination as urinating merely in front of people, but rather urinating in front of people outside of a designated area. As such, we have no reason to accept that "public" bathrooms only refer to bathrooms that are open to the public, but bathrooms that are specifically not private. The same goes for the distinction of public in this debate.

Argument on Rights

Con's entire argument is predicated on a business owner's rights.

Let's assume that the judges don't recognize Con's obvious attempt to derail this debate via cheap semantics.

Even if we were to accept business owner's rights (which I do), the resolution specifies that transgender people SHOULD not be banned from their choice of bathroom. Ergo, I am not arguing that transgender people MUST be allowed to use their choice of bathroom. On the contrary, my only burden is to prove that even private businesses should afford them this opportunity. Thus even if we accept that trans people do not have a RIGHT to use any bathroom they please, to win this debate I only have to prove they should be able to use the bathroom of their choice.

Therefore, you can extend my 2A, 2B and 2C points while simply removing the word "rights."

In fact, none of my arguments refer to trans people's RIGHTS but rather why their claims are significant.

In the last round, I've explained that trans people suffer unimaginable pain, discrimination and violence.

I showed examples proving that many trans people look nothing like their biological sex.

As such, please extend my point: even if trans people don't have the RIGHT to use whatever bathroom they please, they should not be banned from using the bathroom of their choice for these reasons - per the full resolution.

Re: Safety

I've proven that trans people are ruthlessly mocked and savagely attacked, specifically when it comes to bathroom politics.

Con writes, [Since most rape does not occur in public, and by people the victim knows] this certainly indicates... that cisgender individuals are not a threat to transgender people." But this statement makes no sense whatsoever. Just because most rape does not occur in public places doesn't mean TRANS PEOPLE ARE NOT ATTACKED for using the "wrong" bathroom, which I have cited and sourced in the last round with multiple statistics and citations.

Con cannot ignore these cited sources; he must discredit the studies and personal testimony if he wants to discount it.

In fact, in the last round I've shown that more than 70% of trans people have experienced violent intimidation and/or confrontation while using the bathroom; some were even denied access. This alone negates Con's point. I've highlighted the physical pain and suffering (health related issues) that trans people suffer from avoiding the bathroom, because of how often and likely it is they will suffer violence or the threat of violence.

I will cite a few more sources proving that trans people are, in fact, violently attacked and more-so in bathrooms [2, 3, 4, 5].

My opponent claims I cannot say "bathroom assaults are rare" but then suggest trans people suffer bathroom violence.

That is completely false. Trans people are specifically the victims of hate crimes and attacked for using the "wrong" bathroom.

Con claims that people will still abuse trans people regardless of the law. While some will still attack trans people, Con's proposition is giving people more of a reason to antagonize trans folk. I mentioned that rape does not often occur in public places, but violence usually does. Thus Con has not proven that trans people aren't likely to be attacked when their own fears (and statistics) prove that is untrue.

I'd also like to use Con's own argument against him here: he questions whether or not violence and discrimination has gone down for gays in direct correlation to their increased rights and privileges. The answer is overwhelmingly YES. Homophobia has consistently been on the decline over the last 100 years. Anti-gay violence is down as the law and society makes homosexuality more socially acceptable. However while anti-gay violence is down, anti-trans violence is up [6]. So by Con's own logic, we should provide greater moral and legal support to the trans community in order to discourage the violence against trans people that he agrees is appalling.

Re: The Law

Extend my point about the context of the resolution. I can recognize a business owner's right to discriminate, and still argue that they should not discriminate. Unfortunately my opponent's attempt to play semantics has backfired, or at least can be similarly used against him.

Again my only burden (per the resolution) is to prove that trans people SHOULD be allowed to choose their bathroom.

I do not have to prove that it is their legal right to do so; I do not believe it is (in private business).

Re: Mitigating Factors

Con claims that trans people will have access to bathrooms regardless. Please extend my statistics proving that many trans people avoid bathrooms (and suffer health problems) specifically because they don't have access to safe or trans friendly bathrooms. While my opponent is able to name a few businesses that cater to trans people, he cannot prove that this will likely be popular. This is especially true in the Deep South, Bible Belt, or virtually any other red state or city that is socially conservative.


My opponent does not contest most of my points: that Americans are too prudish with nudity; that gender mixed bathrooms do not actually pose an inherent safety issue; or that it's ridiculous and unwarranted (according to the data) to assume that trans people in bathrooms would somehow promote sexual assault. Instead Con has 2 simple points. He first argues that trans people do not actually suffer from bathroom policy (which I've proven is blatantly false), and he then argues that businesses have the right to discriminate against trans people.

Indeed, business owners do have that right, but

A) This debate was clearly referring to public as in NON-PRIVATE bathrooms, per my round 1 clarification
B) Even the semantics argument crumbles under my actual burden

I have proven that individuals should not be banned from public bathrooms that do not correspond to their sex

...even if business owners have the right to ban them.




Danielle has attempted to portray me as the type of unethical debater who would argue semantics rather than the point at hand. I'm not sure if this acusation is a strategy or an honest concern, but either way I will dispell this notion.

What Public Bathrooms?

The public bathrooms I reference in my case are those that are hosted by businesses. This is a relevant distinction and point of argumentation because:

1. These are the most common public bathrooms.

This includes companies like Target, Walmart, Kmart, that bait shop on the corner, etc. The only bathrooms that are excluded from the ones I am considering are those specifically hosted by the government, be they in parks or government buildings.

Obviously, the restrooms I'm referring to make up a large majority of public bathrooms, as the number of businesses in any given town will almost always outstrip the number of government buildings and parks.

2. These bathrooms are termed "public bathrooms".

While, in a legal sense, it may be possible to call these bathrooms "private bathrooms", it is the understood connotation that "public bathrooms" includes those that you might find in a gas station.

Furthermore, public bathrooms of the type I am referencing are the ones being so heavily debated in the news and media currently. When people complain about having to share a bathroom with a transgender person, they almost always refer to "Target bathrooms" or "McCoys Toys bathrooms".

If the opponent were to seriously claim that these can only be considered "private bathrooms", then she is playing the semantics game by moving the definition of "public restroom" away from commonly understood definition.


I've demonstrated that I am not playing some kind of semantics game. I'm not making the claim that "transgender people shouldn't be able to use the bathrooms in my house, therefore they shouldn't be able to use all restrooms". Rather, I am referencing the right a business has to refuse service to customers in regards to bathrooms, which affects the vast majority of public bathrooms that exist in the US.

If we are to truly only consider bathrooms that absolutely public, we would be limited to discussing parks and government facilites. It is clear that the issue is much greater than that, largely due to the fact that people call the restrooms you'd find at a supermarket "public".

To claim that this is an unfair semantics-based ploy isn't just a stretch -- it's plain untrue. Danielle's debate record is solid and quite large. I would expect better from her than this strategy. Any voter can plainly see that I am talking about the vast majority of what we call "public restrooms", the same restrooms that we see plastered all over the news in reference to this issue. Perhaps she has just misunderstood that my argument applies to some 95% of all public restrooms. Maybe she thought I was referring to some <1% of restrooms like those at a private golf club.

Business Owner Rights

The opponent makes an important distinction here between what is and what should be. I will take this as an implied acceptance that transgender people do not currently have the absolute legal right to use any public restroom. Let's look at the way things should be.

In a perfect world, no one would think of transgender people as being any different than anyone else. This would be a non-issue. However, we do not live in a perfect world and many people feel uncomfortable around them. This leads to my first point.

1. Business owners are justified in doing what is legally allowed to make their customers more comfortable.

Imagine a po-dunk, population 1000, Bible Belt town in the middle of nowhere. There is a bait shop, Bob's Bait, that gets great business. It is revealed that one of these citizens is transgender. The customers tell Bob that they will not be using his store anymore if he allows the transgender person to use the bathroom not matching their sex.

Bob has two choices. He can either allow the usage, which will hurt his sales and brand, or he can deny the usage, effectively driving away only one customer. Should Bob be forced to implement an anti-business tactic so that someone can use the bathroom they prefer?

I argue that the answer is no. It is unethical to force a business to do something that would hurt the business, given that the lack of action in question is not in some way significantly damaging to anyone.

It cannot be said that disallowing a transgender person from using the one bathroom ten feet away from the bathroom they can use is in any way physically harmful to said person. It can be said that allowing this person to use the bathroom of their choice will negatively impact the business.


The question "should transgender people be able to use the bathroom matching their gender identity," is best answered by looking at another question: "Should businesses be compelled implement negative business policy to provide comfort to certain minorities of its clientelle?" The answer to the latter question is "no", which answers the former question with a definitive "no".


The opponent has proven that transgender people face great adversity. What she hasn't proven is that changing the law will in some way reduce this adversity. In fact, it is now the law in many places that transgender people can use the bathroom of their choice and we have not seen any statistically related evidence that there has been any reduction in their suffering.

I do not deny that transgender people "got it bad". I do deny that implementing this policy in more places will in some way reduce how "bad they got it."

Attacks in the Bathroom

The opponent is trying to simulataneously argue to conflicting points. "Transgender people will not attack others in the bathroom because bathroom attacks rarely occur" and "transgender people will get attacked if they use the restroom matching their sex." These are mutually exclusive. The "evidence" provided by the opponent points to a very limited number of cases in which transgender individuals were attacked and a survey with a small sample size that indicated some sort of confrontation occured in bathroom related incidents". Let us assume this is true.

What this survey doesn't mention is which bathroom these transgender people were trying to use. It is even mentioned by Danielle that "some were even denied access". This implies that the violence/confrontation is not a result of transgender people using the "wrong bathroom", but rather than the violence is a result of them being transgender.

This makes sense, too. People who hate transgender people do so because they are transgender. Whether they use the men's or women's restroom is irrelevant to these kind of people, because their hate runs deeper than what the transgender person chooses to do, it's based upon what they are.

If this resolution was "should people stop hating transgender people for no good reason", I wouldn't have accepted, because this is absolutely true. But we're talking about bathroom rights. And whether or not these rights exist, transgender people are still going to face just as much abuse and violence. No "bathroom law" is going to change that reality.

It is not uncommon for people to rally behind something small and pretend that it's really something big. We cannot confuse "perceived equality of transgender people" with "the ability to use the correct bathroom". They are two fundementally different and tangentially related things. I ask the opponent to provide one shred of substantive evidence that "bathroom rights" reduce the violence against transgender people. (This should be easy, since there are places where the law does exist and places where it doesn't. Comparing the two should yield a reduction in violence against transgender people in areas were the law exists. It doesn't.)


It is true that transgender people face violence. I will assume it is true, for the sake of the argument, that transgenders to face violence in the bathroom. This is not enough to show that "bathroom laws should be in place" because we have no logical reason to believe (or evidence to support) the idea that these laws will magically make transgender people less of an appealing target for violence.

You cannot fix a system of hate, bigotry and violence with something so simply as a bathroom law. Just as we have seen with other discriminated classes, from African Americans to homosexuals, society eventually comes to accept other classes. At that point, it can be said that transgenders should be able to use whichever restroom they like. Before that point, however, we cannot pretend that bathroom laws will fix this issue.

The Law

The opponent effectively moved the resolution beyond the current law in her last speech, making this point largely irrelevant.

Mitigating Factors

The only note to be mentioned is that the opponent very clearly shows that even businesses that are pro-bathroom rights "cannot be [proven to be] popular" in areas like the South.

Here the opponent effectively admits that even having the right to bathroom of choice will not stop the "health problems" and others experienced by trans people. Bathrooms will not suddenly become "safe" or "trans friendly" simply because they have the right to use them. The opponent correctly states that bathroom measures will not be popular in many areas, showing that we have no reason to believe these bathrooms will suddenly become safe.


I provided ample clash in this round and the previous round in demonstrating that business rights should be valued above a trans person's right to use the bathroom of their choice.

I have demonstrated that we have no reason to believe that the introduction of bathroom laws will in some way reduce the amount of hate, bigotry and violence facing transgender people. As such, there is no pragmatic reason to value bathroom rights over business rights (it doesn't actually help transgender people) whereas there is reason to value the business right.
Debate Round No. 3


Re: What Public Bathrooms?

Ironically my opponent accuses me of playing a semantics game. Indeed this debate clearly stems from the circus and outrage over the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act (a.k.a. HB2) in North Carolina, which seeks to ban transgender individuals from choosing their bathroom. Public Facilities refers to government buildings [1]. Things that are run by government are called PUBLIC, whereas things that are run by individuals are called PRIVATE.

The public sector is the part of the economy concerned with providing various services sponsored by government. This includes police, courts, municipalities, schools, public transit, utility providers, legal buildings, infrastructure providers, health care, etc. I specified in R1 that this debate was referring to the PUBLIC sector which does not include private business [2].

The public sector makes up over 53% of the economy and outnumbers manufacturers 8:1 [3]. So no, I was not being unclear in stating this debate was about PUBLIC buildings. Public = funded by tax payers. That is the common understanding of public vs. private in the everyday vernacular and status quo. I'm not sure why Con is trying to imply that "private" must refer to private golf clubs either, as if the term private is so exclusive.

While I accept that my opponent's intent may not be malicious, his misunderstanding is not my cross to bear. It is well understood that the distinction between the public and private sector is that public = government run and private = independently run. Since I clarified that this debate was referring to the public sector in R1, it is Cobalt's mistake that renders his argument ineffective.

It is not my burden to argue that transgender individuals have the RIGHT to impede on private business. For one thing, I specified this debate was not about private business. But more importantly, I only have to prove that transgender individuals SHOULD be allowed to choose their bathroom per the full resolution.

Thus I believe they should have this privilege even within private businesses. If Con is arguing that public bathrooms = Target bathrooms (even though Target bathrooms are private bathrooms, i.e. cannot be regulated by government) then I am still saying that transgender people SHOULD be allowed to select their bathrooms, even in Target or any other business. If the owner chooses to restrict this privilege, that is their right, but it should not be the case.

Re: Business Owner Rights

Con's first argument is that business owners are justified in doing what will make their customers comfortable. First, let's ignore the fact that Con asked if the business owner should be "forced" to allow the trans person to use their choice of bathroom. I've already repeated that I am a firm believer in private business owner's rights... hence why I specifically clarified public in R1, and Con shouldn't even be allowed to use this argument in the first place.

Nevertheless, please refer back to Round 2, point 3A where I have somewhat addressed this contention. If a customer does not appreciate something about a private business, they have every right to avoid that business. It's called boycott. Many would argue that an owner doing the right thing is more important than appealing to their customer's immoral bias.

Furthermore, just as customers might boycott a business owner for one reason (being uncomfortable) some others could boycott for another reason. In other words, Con argued that an owner must protect their business, but protesting bigoted companies is not necessarily good for business. Neither is shaming them at the national level. We have seen conservative people in rural areas receive horrible publicity for their conservative policies which has destroyed their business [4, 5].

There are more pragmatic reasons for a business owner to be trans-friendly as well. I'll point out that Con has not responded to my points from R2 about many trans people looking nothing like their biological sex. If his concern is protecting the fragile feelings of social conservatives, he would have to explain how/why seeing someone who looks like a biological man (see photos from R2) would not be alarming to the average southern belle in the ladies room.

I've explained that by forcing trans people to use the bathroom they do not identify with or often look like, it can encourage a violent response from other patrons. As such, by not taking measures to avoid this, private businesses are opening themselves up to potential lawsuits and bad publicity.

Consider the Trans Panic defense - a defendant can get away with murder/assault and say they acted in a state of violent temporary insanity, because they "panicked" being in the presence of a trans person [5]. This has only been banned in one state, leaving 49 others open to the potential of one of their conservative patrons flipping out and murdering someone on their property.

Con might say this could happen regardless, but I've explained that the majority of trans violence in bathrooms stems from conflict, confrontation and accusations of them using the "wrong" bathroom. In other words when a trans man is seen leaving the woman's room because he has a vagina, that is where the most violence occurs as other cis gendered males believe they are "fighting off a man using the woman's room." This was explained and sourced with citations in previous rounds.

Ergo, if a trans man was allowed to use the men's room, no one might notice or care. But if a trans man was forced to use the women's room, people might become defensive and question (become aggressive) why an apparent man was using the "wrong" bathroom. Con's policy puts people in greater danger.

Re: Safety

Some of the aforementioned arguments can be extended to this category as well. Again, the majority of trans violence around bathrooms stems from the assumption that a man is using the woman's room. See R3 source 4 and R2 source 6. Therefore I disagree with Con's assessment that allowing them to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity (not biological sex) would not decrease the likelihood of violence. It also protects their dignity, but I digress.

Con has not proven that transphobic violence has not gone down where protections have been enacted. This would be a hard correlation to prove because liberal laws that protect trans people are more likely to exist in liberal places where people are less likely to attack trans folk. But again the majority of anti-trans bathroom violence in particular stems from the assumption of them using the "wrong" bathroom.

I would agree with Cobalt that many people abuse trans folk on the basis of hating them alone, and bathroom laws would not prevent all transphobic violence. But if it prevents any violence that is helpful, and it would likely inhibit a certain kind of violence as the result of being misgendered.

My opponent highlights the word survey as if a survey does not somehow yield informative results. That isn't the case; it is equivalent with the term poll and Con hasn't proven a small sample size. Again the survey taken by the Journal of Public Management and Social Policy found that 70% of trans people had been harassed over bathroom politics. Another study was researched by the UCLA School of Law with more than 90+ trans people; this academic paper outlines the sample process and diversity considered yielding similar results [7], as did the Transgender Law Center [8]. But EVEN IF we accept that trans people will experience assault regardless, why not let them assess the individual situation and make the best choice for them in that particular scenario?

Re: The Law & Mitigating Factors

The effects of the law extend beyond protecting their safety. In my opening arguments, I questioned how laws or even policies that restrict trans people from using the bathroom of their preference would be enforced. Journalists have called up police departments all over North Carolina asking this question, but none of them had an answer [9]. Similarly my opponent does not have an answer.

I've explained in R2 that 1) sexual organs alone cannot distinguish gender; see intersex people, 2) police officers are not trained doctors to recognize all sexual reassignment surgeries or intersex conditions. They would not even necessarily know if someone broke the law. And further on this point, I've argued in R2 why asking someone to expose their genitals in the bathroom (on suspicion they may be trans) is Unconstitutional. My opponent dropped this argument. Please extend my Round Two 4C and 4D arguments about Supreme Court legal precedent being in my favor, and why Con's policy violates the 4th amendment. This is important.


I've proven that trans people should have the right to pee in any restroom in PUBLIC buildings, per my R1 introduction. Con never disagreed with this and decided to make a red herring out of this debate. However per the resolution, I've still managed to prove that private businesses should allow trans people to choose their bathroom.

First, we have every reason to assume this would decrease transphobic violence. But let's assume we drop that point. I've argued that trans people suffer and their feelings are not less valuable than other patron's feelings. I've argued we shouldn't cater to immoral bias. I've also shown that business owners should take measures to avoid violence or any bad legal publicity to protect their business, which would be best done by not causing a scene and inviting police to do something they cannot legally do (check people's genitalia). Talk about negative attention.

There is no legal OR medical way to verify a person's gender on the spot (intersex). Thus any attempt at stifling trans people from using any bathroom they choose is just a discriminatory hassle that is unnecessary, immoral, arguably dangerous and Unconstiutional.

Thank you.




I'll move directly into arguments, for the convenience of the voters.

Public vs Private Bathrooms

The opponent has claimed that the bathrooms that this debate topic covers includes only those that are regulated by the government. This point will likely be the longest in my response, as my argument cannot stand if it concerns only government facilities.

"Public bathrooms" -- conotation versus denotation

All words have a denotation and a conotion. A word's "denotation" refers to its technical definition found in a dictionary. A word's "conotation" refers to the likely definition of the word in context.

For example, if SkaterBro were to say to his friend "Yo dude, the ollie was sick," the term "sick" has a different connotation than it does denotation. In the dictionary, "sick" would be defined as some sort of illness being experienced by a person. In context, the word clearly means "awesome" or "fantastic".

Similarly, the term "public restroom" has a different conotation than it does denotation, specifically with regards to this topic. While I cannot deny that in some aspects, "public restroom" may technically refer to only government facilities, it cannot be denied by any purveyor of the news that the current connotation of "public restroom" includes those provided by privately owned stores.

While Wikipedia is not a great source for many things, it is a fantastic example of the public consensus and understanding surrounding an issue. Wikipedia states that a "public toilet" is "a room or small building containing containing one or more toilets ... for use by the general public or ... by customers of other services." Notably, it later states that "public toilets are typically round in railway stations, schools, bars, restaurants, nightclubs or filling stations." [1]

Notably, there is a clear mention that private businesses like "bars", "restaurants" and "nightclubs" have toilets that are considered public.

Furthermore, when one sees a news article referring to public bathrooms as it relates to transgender people, the bathroom being referenced is almost always a business bathroom. This is made particularly evident by the sources my opponent herself references.

Woman being beaten -- McDonald's bathroom. (Opponent's R2 Ev #6) Transgender discrimination study -- only referenced bathrooms are work bathrooms. (Opp. R2 Ev #7) Please note, these are the only two sources provided by the opponent that describe the particular bathrooms this issue is concerning.

The prevelance of "business" restrooms

The opponent makes a point that the public sector accounts for over half of economic output, then provides the false implication that this means there are more government bathrooms than business bathrooms. Recall that my argument concerned the fact that "business" bathrooms are considerably more common than "government" bathrooms, which is part of the reason people consider business bathrooms to be public bathrooms.

Consider that the US government says there are 27.9 million businesses in the US. [2] Let us make the reasonable assumption that each business has exactly one bathroom. (This is undoubtedly an underestimate.) The US Federal Real Property Council estimates that there are under 160,000 government buildings currently in use. Again, let's assume that each of these buildings has a bathroom. [3] Finally, the number of towns in the U.S. is just under 20,000. Let's assume one government building and bathroom per town. [4] Let's even assume that every town has a public park with a provided government bathroom.

This puts the government bathroom total at under 200,000. This means that "business" bathrooms make up 99.3% of all non-residential bathrooms in the United States. From this data alone, it is completely evident that when people say "public restroom", they are referring to business bathrooms as well as governmental bathrooms.

Round 1 clarity.

The opponent's final claim on this topic was that she made it clear in the first round that when she said "public bathrooms", she was only referring to those regulated by the government.

First, that was not clearly specified anywhere in Round 1 or Round 2. The voters are encouraged to reread those sections to confirm this for themselves.

Secondly, the only restrooms clearly referenced in any of the opponent's sources were concerning business bathrooms. That opponent clearly didn't intend for the "restroom scope" to be so narrow, given that her evidence concerned restrooms outside that scope.

Finally, since it was not clearly stated, it was Con's natural inclination to go with the "common sense" definition of the terms in question, since they were not defined. Danielle wants to claim that I'm "playing semantics", when the opposite is true. She is attempting to limit the restrooms in question to just 0.3% of the restrooms considered "public" by general consensus.


I have effectively demonstrated that "public restroom" has the connotation including business restrooms. I have shown that the opponent herself implicated this definition by including sources that also used this definition. I have finally revealed that it was the natural position of Con to assume common sense definitions and that the opponent's attempt to semantically limit me is unjustified.

Business bathrooms are public restrooms, and it is these 99.7% of bathrooms that are affected by my argument.

Business Owner Rights

The opponent doesn't include much in this response, since she is assuming my argument is already invalid.

She mentions boycotts, but fails to adequately prove how this justifies the reduction in business owner rights. If she is implying that boycotts combat my "economic pragmatism" argument, then she's flat wrong. Transgender people make up a tiny proportion of the population (0.2%) [5], especially in areas where stores are likely to deny service to transgenders. A boycott in the Bible Belt by transgender people would damage a business about as much as a small stone would damage an aircraft carrier.

The boycott said business in the conservative area would face from customers due to the business' support of transgender bathroom usage would no doubt be greater than the potential boycott from the transgender and supporting community. (Consider the boycott on target exists, while there is no news of a transgender boycott of other businesses. Not that it doesn't happen -- it's just not significant enough to pragmatically matter.)

Regarding the opponent's second point, it is true that many transgender people look like the sex matching their gender identity. If a business owner cannot tell someone is transgender, they likely will not ban them from using their services or the restroom. I never claimed that a conservative business would disallow all transgenders from using their toilet -- I simply claimed that they should have that right. (A right that would realistically only be implemented when the transgender nature of the customer is evident.)

The opponent next makes the (unsupported) claim that transgenders face discrimination because they are using the bathroom matching their biological gender. None of her evidence supports this, however. We have one specific case in which someone was abused, which is hardly proof of the way things are generally. Next, we have the D.C. gender discrimination study which says a great deal of the harrassment happens outside of bathrooms. As I've already explained, people are abusive and mean to transgenders not because of the bathroom they use, but because of the very fact that they are transgender.

The Trans Panic defense not only nearly always fails in court -- it's hardly relevant. People can use said (ineffective) defense regardless of where they attack the transgender person. Bathrooms have little to do with it. Again, the opponent claims she already proved that this discrimination occurs because they use the "wrong" bathroom, when in fact no such proof has been submitted. (The opposite, in fact, given the DC survey).


The amount of danger a transgender person is in has little to do with which bathroom they are legally entitled to use. As such, business owners should maintain the right to run their business as they see fit. One cannot force a business to change behaviors just because said behavior is offensive to someone in the US.


Running out of space; will be brief.

All of the opponent's evidence concerns areas where it is already legal to use the bathroom you want. Bills like HB2 in NC change this law. Clearly the violence exists despite the legal state of the matter, thus invalidating the opponent's unsubstantiated claim that these rights should be implemented in the few remaining places where it isn't.

If the discrimination and violence is prevalent where it is already legal, there is no reason to believe it will suddenly be decreased in other areas where it is not. The opponent's most compelling evidence, the DC survey, takes place in an area where free bathroom use is not illegal. That makes this actually a compelling piece of evidence for my claim that the legality of this issue won't change violence rates.

Law/Mitigating Factors

I believe it was obvious how business owners would enforce their business right -- by just saying no. Ie, I'm a transwoman who goes into a gas station. Owner says "get out". I leave.


I don't have much room, so I'll leave you with saying that my arguments are clear, persuasive, and clearly conclusive that business rights are the critical issue here. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to the vote.

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Debate Round No. 4
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by lannan13 2 years ago
Danielle, could you remind me tomorrow to vote on this? Please and thank you.
Posted by Peili 2 years ago
@ dtien400

It is possible for anyone of any gender to use any restroom, and likely that they will not be found out. It is possible that people will commit murder and not be found out. The underlying question is if we should make it easier or more difficult for such actions to take place.

(I"m not equating using a certain bathroom with murder. I am only pointing out that people can do these things, and many other things, regardless of what the law says.)
Posted by dtien400 2 years ago

Although I am curious, don't you think that it's entirely possible trans ppl will continue to use the bathroom of their choice no matter what the law says and ppl will be uncomfortable anyways?

I guess that's what's great about single can go in peace. Alone. Without any creepy little kids peeking through the stall door at you (which is why I used to hate going to the restroom in elementary school).
Posted by dtien400 2 years ago

I can see where you're coming from even if I disagree. That's why I don't understand why so many people are boycotting Target for letting trans ppl use the restroom of their choice...Target stores have family restrooms, which are single seaters. I guess the boycott of Target is more of a symbolic gesture than a practical one?
Posted by Peili 2 years ago
I don"t have time to take up this debate, but I am curious to see how it goes. I am on the fence on this issue. I agree with not discriminating or making life more difficult for a minority group. On the other hand, if a woman wants to use the restroom without an anatomical male in the room, that seems like a completely reasonable expectation. I hope one side or the other can put a convincing argument.
Posted by I_Wanna_Rawk 2 years ago
I would like to debate this, however, I was prohibited from doing so bases on whatever restrictions you put in place.
Posted by Danielle 2 years ago
Thanks Roukezian. I don't intend on arguing semantics.
Posted by Roukezian 2 years ago
I probably sound stupid but that's because I'm being very semantical on purpose. Or because I am stupid.
Posted by Roukezian 2 years ago
I probably sound stupid but that's because I'm being very semantical on purpose. Or because I am stupid.
Posted by Roukezian 2 years ago
I think there's a deceitful tactic to win this debate as Pro, although it's definitely not Danielle's style or general approach.

Transgender is defined as, "denoting or relating to a person whose self-identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender."

By that definition, we're really all transgender, as each of us feels incompatible in some way with conventional notions of gender roles. And so those who identify as transgender should be given exactly the same rights as we have as we're transgender but in denial.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Udel 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Hi, I'm voting on this debate because it was nominated by the DDO voting league. The RFD can be found in this thread