By Rob Roper
Come July 1, single occupancy bathrooms in Vermont will have to be labeled in a “gender free” manner thanks to Act 127, an act relating to identification of gender-free restrooms in public buildings and places of public accommodation.
Proponents of this bill say it’s no big deal. Lots of restaurants, service stations and other places already label one-person-at-a-time bathrooms as “restroom” or “toilet” and nobody cares. Nor should we. In this sense, Act 127 is not a big deal.
However, looking at it from the Big Government, Nanny State perspective, it is a big deal. Consider the fact that our Legislature and governor just made it a crime — yes, a crime — for a shop owner to offer designated men’s and women’s rooms to their customers (unless they are large enough to have multiple person facilities). Shouldn’t this decision in a free society be between business owners and their patrons?
The Department of Public Safety has now been officially deputized as the Vermont bathroom police with the power to inspect toilet signs, punish businesses that are not in compliance, and even revoke someone’s business license for the outrageous act of tacking a silhouette of a guy in pants and a woman in a dress to the door of their loo. Is this really a desirous exercise of the state’s monopoly on legitimate violence?
What does this say to Vermont entrepreneurs about the “friendliness” of the state business climate when politicians are willing and eager to micromanage from Montpelier details of your operation as minute as this one, not to mention open you up to bureaucratic and legal jeopardy if you intentionally or inadvertently fail to comply?
And what problem did this solve that it would justify this level of state intrusion? Was there even one incident of a transgender or gender fluid person being denied access to a public, single-person-occupancy restroom? No. Nobody’s civil rights were violated, no citizen was denied basic services. If the law was passed because some people felt uncomfortable using a facility with a specific gender association, what do we do now for all the people who do identify with a gender, and not no gender, as “gender-free” implies? Pass another law?
This is not an appropriate role for government. And for those who do not care because they like the outcome, remember: A government that has assumed the power to mandate all bathrooms be “gender-free” also has the power to mandate that none be gender-free. These things should not be decided by the outcome of elections, and we really should not want them to be.