Let me say at the outset that I neither condone violence nor believe that justice miscarried in the story you are about to read. That being said, I would argue that a headline of an article at CNN that reports the same event is both provocative and judgmental. That headline reads “A man beat a transgender woman for using the correct bathroom — the women’s. Now he’s guilty of a hate crime.” Before getting bogged down in a journalistic tug of war, let’s review the facts of the case, which are indisputable.
A man who beat a transgender woman for using the women’s restroom was found guilty of a hate crime.
Fred Constanza was convicted in an Oregon court for first-degree bias crime, second-degree assault and harassment for the August attack on Lauren Jackson, a transgender woman.
Jackson was visiting Agate State Beach Park near Newport, Oregon, on the day of the attack. She stopped to use the women’s restroom — and that’s when Costanza walked over 100 yards across the park to confront her, multiple witnesses told Newport police.
It is worth emphasizing that the above description forms the lede of the CNN article. So what is my grievance with the network’s headline? It is their decision to inject the opinion that the victim, Lauren Jackson, selected the “correct” bathroom. From a legal perspective, the adjective is correct. Oregon, the state where the beating occurred, is one of 18 (including the District of Columbia) that have adopted anti-discrimination protections for transgender people. From a journalistic perspective, the adjective is superfluous and argumentative. Not even PinkNews, an LGBT+ advocacy website, specifies in its headline that the women’s restroom was the “correct” choice.
Why is any of this relevant? Because the issue of which restrooms transgenders should be permitted to use has not been universally settled in this country. For that matter, the question of whether transgenderism is a normal condition or a mental aberration continues to be hotly debated. (RELATED: Distinguished psychiatrist fired by university for ‘wrong’ view of transgenderism)
In addition, some disturbing incidents have occurred in states that have adopted protections for transgenders. In 2016, a man entered the women’s locker room of a community pool and Seattle and began undressing. When some women in the room protested, the man replied, “The law has changed and I have a right to be here.” He didn’t have the moral right to make these women feel uncomfortable or invade their privacy, but that is one of the shortcomings of the anti-discrimination laws. (RELATED: School will allow students to pick gender, bathroom, locker room without involving parents)
There is also the troubling reality that none of the news reports appear to have interviewed the assailant, Fred Constanza, or inquired about what led him to assault Jackson. All we have to go on is Jackson’s word about happened. Oregon station KATU not only features a detailed account of Jackson’s version of what went down but even allows Jackson space to moralize about the situation.