Recently, the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith bowed under pressure from the Department of Justice to allow Jennifer Braly, a 38-year-old anatomically male student who identifies as a female, to use the female restrooms.

Braly was previously banned from using female restrooms after numerous complaints from female students.  Braly refused to comply with a request by the University of Arkansas requesting that she utilize the existing gender-neutral bathrooms on campus. Gender neutral restrooms exist for delicate situations like this, but Braly wouldn’t budge.  In her mind she identified as female, and was entitled to use female restrooms, regardless of how her classmates felt.

Although self-identity is definitely a sticky issue, just because a person believes something about their sexual or gender identity doesn’t make it objectively “true.”  Sure, Braly has been diagnosed with gender identity disorder, desires to be female, and for all intents and purposes dresses and lives as a female. Despite this, she is still genetically and anatomically a male.

A similar disorder to gender identity disorder is species dysphoria, a condition where someone believes they were born the wrong species. People affected with species dysphoria may identify themselves as being an “otherkin,” or not entirely human. They may feel as though they’re actually an animal or identify as partially human or even as not human at all.

This begs the question: if a student at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith identified as a cat, would they be provided with a litter box in front of the bathroom? Continuing the thought experiment, would a student who identifies as a dog be permitted to relieve themselves on fire hydrants and suburban lawns?

A student who identifies as a cat isn’t actually a cat.  Braly still has male anatomy—until she has gender reassignment surgery, she’s still male in a physical sense. The clothing and hairstyle choices a person makes do not actually define their physical identity.

Braly is free to wear dresses, but she’s still a male. A person wearing a Superman cape and tights isn’t going to suddenly gain the ability to fly.

On a genetic level, Braly will always be a male. “She” will always have an X and a Y chromosome, the actual biological demarcations of gender.  The comedian Eddie Izzard frequently performs in a dress and makeup, yet he’s still considered a male by society.

Another issue with the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith’s decision is that there is nothing to stop other anatomically-male people from claiming they identify as female and attacking females in female restrooms. There’s no way to prove what a person actually thinks about themselves and what their ulterior motives may be.

It cannot become socially acceptable for people with male anatomy to use female restrooms—and vice versa. Male, female, and gender neutral bathrooms exist for a reason—ensuring the safety and comfort of the people using them.

Women are frequently raped in restrooms—is it really a good idea to lay down a precedent saying those with male anatomy are allowed in women’s rooms? How can this ensure a safe environment for women on campus? It can’t. There’s no way the university will be able to effectively police its bathrooms. Girls will be unable to complain about sketchy men in the women’s bathroom—there’s nothing stopping those men from saying they “identify” and “feel like” a woman.

It’s incredibly troubling that Eric Holder and the Department of Justice are forcing the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith to comply with a policy that has the potential to endanger women. If a woman is raped in the bathroom as a result of this policy, the Department of Justice will most certainly be liable. Furthermore, this policy would naturally extend out to other areas segregated by gender; locker rooms, dormitories, sororities, etc. The extreme demands of one student do not justify actions and policies that endanger many others.

Christine Rousselle | Providence College | @CRousselle