Social Conservatives Think This Story Justifies Anti-Trans Bathroom Laws. They Are Very Confused.


Numerous right-wing websites have seized on the arrest of James Thomas Shoemaker, a Pennsylvania man caught taking pictures of a 10-year-old girl in a public restroom. The incident, according to these publications, proves that new laws that discriminate against transgender people are justified.

These stories have gained considerable traction online. A story on Shoemaker on the popular site Young Conservatives begins, “We told you the LGBT agenda was bad, Lefties. But you refused to listen.” It has been shared over 33,000 times on Facebook.

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A Breitbart piece notes Shoemaker’s arrest comes “as progressives step up their judicial and media push to force American adults and youths to share all of their public bathrooms and changing rooms with the small number of people who try to live and look like people of the opposite sex.” It has been shared over 14,000 times on Facebook.

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These people are very confused.

The incident has absolutely nothing to do with transgender bathroom use. Shoemaker is not transgender and the bathroom where the alleged incident took place was a women’s room, not a gender neutral bathroom. Whatever your gender, photographing people in a restroom without consent is illegal.


Anti-trans bathroom bills, like the one passed recently in North Carolina, would do nothing to prevent or discourage Shoemaker’s alleged conduct.

A video released earlier this year similarly conflates male predators with transgender women simply trying to use the restroom.

To justify anti-trans bathroom laws, seizing on unrelated incidents is essential. That is because “there has never been a verifiable, reported instance of a trans person harassing a cisgender person, nor have there been any confirmed reports of male predators ‘pretending’ to be transgender to gain access to women’s spaces and commit crimes against them.”

Experts from around the country have debunked the myth that “sexual predators will exploit transgender non-discrimination laws to sneak into women’s restrooms.”