While Lane Galbraith was transitioning from a woman to a man, he avoided public bathrooms at all costs. He chose activities based on the establishment’s availability of a unisex, or family, restroom.
“I didn’t feel comfortable,” he said, looking back at the roughly six months in 2014 between the time he started hormone therapy and had gender reassignment surgery. “I always had to plan ahead.”
Now he’s speaking out against so-called “bathroom bills” in a debate he fears will lead to attacks on the LGBTQ community.
“We have had political leaders speaking out against those who are transgender creating an uneducated fear in people about public restrooms,” Galbraith wrote in a statement. “They have a duty and responsibility to those that they serve to do research and educate themselves about the diversity of human beings.”
Galbraith said the spate of new laws aimed at making public restrooms accessible only to those who are biologically male or female only “solidifies discrimination.”
One new law in Oxford, which fines individuals who don’t use the restroom corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates, is going to cost the city near Anniston more money than it’s worth, Galbraith said.
“They’re going to go broke because they’re going to have the police out there monitoring public restrooms all the time,” he said. “How many walk around with their birth certificate?”
Instead, Galbraith said, there needs to be a focus on diversity education. He suggests governments bring in members of the LGBTQ community to get better educated about the issues they face.
He said the education should start in local schools.
“We don’t have education in schools now,” Galbraith said. “[LGBTQ students] don’t get the support they need.”
These “bathroom bills” and other religious freedom laws are a response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage almost a year ago, Galbraith said. He added he expects the various religious freedom bills and “bathroom bills” to be overturned in the near future.
“We have heard those who speak against transgender people use their interpretation of the Bible to justify making undue harmful comments,” Galbraith wrote. “This creates LGBT victimization that leads to physical and verbal harassment.
“I myself am a believer in the teaching of Jesus Christ,” he added. “Christ did not harm or turn people away. He went to those who were hurting and encouraged love and hope.”
Mobile County Commission President Jerry Carl has been vocal about his support for “bathroom bills,” like the one passed earlier this year by the North Carolina Legislature. He said he has nothing against the LGBTQ community and his comments were not directed at its members. He said he thinks such laws help keep those wishing to harm women and children out of their bathrooms.
“Street freaks and perverts will take advantage of being able to cross-dress to get into the bathroom with our wives and daughters,” Carl said. “I know everyone wants everything to be equal, but God created us different for a reason.”
Carl admitted individuals who wish to harm women and children have been doing so in public bathrooms for years, but said allowing people of any gender to use the same bathroom as someone else would make it easier for that sort of thing to happen.
As for any county action relating to public restrooms, Carl said that’s not the County Commission’s job.
“The commission is road and bridges,” Carl said.