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J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 2018 Jun;46(2):232-241. doi: 10.29158/JAAPL.003761-18.

The Transgender Bathroom Debate at the Intersection of Politics, Law, Ethics, and Science.

Author information

1
Dr. Barnett is fellow in the Massachusetts General Hospital/McLean Hospital Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. Dr Nesbit is a Forensic Psychiatry Fellow, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA. Dr. Sorrentino is Assistant Professor in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.
2
Dr. Barnett is fellow in the Massachusetts General Hospital/McLean Hospital Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. Dr Nesbit is a Forensic Psychiatry Fellow, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA. Dr. Sorrentino is Assistant Professor in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. rsorrentino@mgh.harvard.edu.

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Abstract

The debate over whether transgender individuals should be allowed to use the public restrooms (including locker rooms and changing rooms) that correspond to their currently expressed gender rather than their biological sex has been of recent interest nationally. The first state law addressing transgender access to restrooms was in North Carolina in 2016. This law prohibited transgender individuals from using the restroom that corresponded to their gender. The terms used in the bill and other legal documents caused it to be referred to as the "bathroom bill." Shortly thereafter, such bills were proposed in many states. Proponents of the bills identify the need to protect public safety by mandating that individuals use the facility that corresponds to their biological sex. Opponents describe such bills as discriminatory. The debate about these bills incorporates ethics-related, legal, and biological arguments. In this commentary, we review the history of such bills in the United States as well as the ethics-related, legal, and evidence-based arguments raised in the debate.

PMID:
30026403
DOI:
10.29158/JAAPL.003761-18
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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