There's an ongoing debate in this country regarding where transgender people can use the bathroom, largely inspired by North Carolina's now infamous "bathroom bill," also known as HB2.
The bill has led to legal battles between the Obama administration and the state of North Carolina, as the president and Attorney General Loretta Lynch believe the "bathroom bill" is inherently discriminatory toward transgender people.
Correspondingly, President Obama recently sent a letter to public schools stating they must allow transgender students to use bathrooms that match the genders they identify with. If the schools do not comply, they will lose federal funds.
Consequently, lawmakers in Oklahoma just called for the president to be impeached.
Needless to say, this is a very controversial and incendiary issue.
Those who don't think transgender people should be able to use bathrooms of their choosing are apparently afraid it could provide sexual predators with legal pathways to harass and attack people.
On Thursday night, Trevor Noah, host of "The Daily Show," perfectly explained how ridiculous this is. He stated,
That's what perverts have been waiting for: loopholes. This argument falls flat every single time. Just think about it: We have labeled these people as perverts, as sex offenders. And you think they're waiting for the laws to change? That's what you're thinking? Like guys out there going, 'Man, I want to flash people in the bathroom so badly. When are they going to change the laws? When are they going to change the laws to accommodate me?'
He's absolutely right.
The fact of the matter is a much larger problem in our society is the sexual and physical violence perpetrated by men, who commit such acts regardless of where transgender people go to the bathroom.
Moreover, there's absolutely no evidence trans-friendly laws place anyone in danger.
But we do know more than one in three women across the world experience sexual or physical violence, usually from intimate partners, at some point in their lives. America is not immune to this trend, as data shows an average of 51 women are shot to death by intimate partners every single month.
In other words, it's fairly baffling many people are seemingly more outraged about where transgender people pee than how often women in this country face abuse and violence.
Not to mention, there's a fair amount of evidence not allowing transgender people to use the bathrooms of their choice could actually place them in danger, as transgender people continue to face public harassment and violence across the country; in 2015, more transgender people were murdered than in any other year on record.
For all of these reasons and more, it's simply ridiculous to act as if transgender people pose an enormous threat to society, particularly when you look at the percentage of the population they constitute.
As Noah explained,
The transgender population in America is closer to zero percent of the population than one percent - 0.3 percent of the population is transgender. The chance of you bumping into a transgender person in the bathroom is almost zero percent, but the chance of a transgender person needing the bathroom is 100 percent. They're already dealing with their own sh*t and now you're given them yours. It's so absurd...
Indeed, it is absurd. But, as Noah highlighted, we've seen this kind of fear and oppression in other forms before.
Half a century ago, many Americans thought the concept of multiracial bathrooms was completely inappropriate, and segregation laws in certain parts of the country ensured black and white people used separate ones.
Unless you're blatantly racist, you can probably agree this was a shameful and regressive era in America, and we can all be glad these types of laws no longer exist. (It's important to note segregation continues to exist in some form or another in the present day, especially in public schools, but we can still applaud the strides we've made in terms of combatting state-sanctioned racism.)
The gay community has also experienced widespread forms of prejudice, and while we still have a lot of work to do in terms of treating gays with dignity and respect, we've also made a lot of progress as a society by legalizing gay marriage and repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
As Noah noted, being gay used to be incredibly taboo, but now most Americans are pretty accepting of it. In 2001, for example, 57 percent of Americans opposed gay marriage, but today, a majority of the country (55 percent) supports it.
We haven't fully overcome racism and homophobia in the US, but we've definitely progressed in these arenas, and we're so much better off because of it.
As Noah aptly put it,
We're not comfortable with many things in society, but we've learned to get over it, it's what we do... We've got to remember this about progress. You move forward even when it frightens you.
When society begins to make an effort to look past its fears and lack of understanding, big changes are possible. It's long past time for people to open their minds and hearts to transgender people.
Watch Trevor Noah's full segment on transphobia above.