Sexual abuse victim fights transgender bathroom bill
Mother of two lost her job at the YMCA over the issue
Kaeley Haver, a 33-year-old mother of two in Washington state, has a story to tell, if only legislators and politicians would listen.
“For the first 10 years of my life, I was sexually abused by somebody close to the family,” Haver said. “It started when I was still in diapers. I literally cannot remember a time when sexual awareness was not part of my identity or my norm.”
The advent of policies that force schools and other public places to allow people to use the restrooms that correspond to their gender identity and not their biological sex has deeply troubled Haver. In particular, she pointed to how Washington state’s Human Rights Commission slipped through a transgender restroom law the day after Christmas last year.
“Five people determined for all 7 million residents of Washington state that this is the new way. And it’s wrong. And it ignores a lot of people like me who are going to be deeply affected by it,” Haver said.
Matt Sharp, a lawyer with Alliance Defending Freedom, agreed.
“This is an issue where the rights and concerns of sexually abused children and those that have endured unspeakable horrors are being ignored, all in the push for this agenda,” he said.
Haver paid a steep price for speaking up: She was fired from her job. Haver had worked for the YMCA for 17 years when her boss informed her she’d be responsible for promoting a new policy opening locker rooms and showers on the basis of gender identity. Haver pushed back, arguing she had personally caught sex offenders at the YMCA and filed some of the police reports against them.
“I expressed my experience and my concern, especially as somebody who was assaulted in the shower—what this would mean to girls like me,” Haver said. She was given the option to resign with severance pay as long as she stayed silent. If she couldn’t be silent, she would be fired on the spot.
“I believe that everybody deserves safety,” Haver said. “I don’t believe in forcing people into what they would call the ‘wrong’ bathroom. But neither do I believe that their rights should come at the expense of my safety and privacy. So we need to kind of pump the brakes on this. It’s been happening so fast, without thought.”
Haver’s been working on a campaign to repeal the open-restroom rule in her state. But some churches are reluctant to get involved, a stance Haver finds frustrating. She said some churches told her they didn’t want to get involved in anything political or that might seem “unwelcoming to the broken.”
“There are a lot of broken women already, especially lining your pews,” Haver said. “If the church won’t defend us, I’m not quite sure where else to appeal.”
Mosques have offered robust support, adding sting to her frustration with churches.
Sharp said so far he has been encouraged in the fight against transgender restroom use policies because so many states have sued the federal government to protect the privacy of students and others.
“It’s a battle I think we can win,” Sharp said. He called on Christian churches to join the fight: “This is about something that affects the kids in their youth group, children in their church, that they ought to be taking a stand on.”
Listen to Mary Reichard’s complete report on transgender restroom policies on the Aug. 1, 2016, episode of The World and Everything in It.
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