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23-07-2018 | Issue 1/2019

Sexuality Research and Social Policy 1/2019

Gender Identity Nondiscrimination Laws in Public Accommodations: a Review of Evidence Regarding Safety and Privacy in Public Restrooms, Locker Rooms, and Changing Rooms

Journal:
Sexuality Research and Social Policy > Issue 1/2019
Authors:
Amira Hasenbush, Andrew R. Flores, Jody L. Herman

Abstract

Legislation, regulations, litigation, and ballot propositions affecting public restroom access for transgender people increased drastically in the last three years. Opponents of gender identity inclusive public accommodations nondiscrimination laws often cite fear of safety and privacy violations in public restrooms if such laws are passed, while proponents argue that such laws are needed to protect transgender people and concerns regarding safety and privacy violations are unfounded. No empirical evidence has been gathered to test such laws’ effects. This study presents findings from matched pairs analyses of localities in Massachusetts with and without gender identity inclusive public accommodation nondiscrimination ordinances. Data come from public record requests of criminal incident reports related to assault, sex crimes, and voyeurism in public restrooms, locker rooms, and dressing rooms to measure safety and privacy violations in these spaces. This study finds that the passage of such laws is not related to the number or frequency of criminal incidents in these spaces. Additionally, the study finds that reports of privacy and safety violations in public restrooms, locker rooms, and changing rooms are exceedingly rare. This study provides evidence that fears of increased safety and privacy violations as a result of nondiscrimination laws are not empirically grounded.

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