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Thursday, October 19, 2017

North Carolina’s new law aimed at controlling transgender access to public restrooms might seem stupid and unenforceable, but actually that’s only half true.

The law can definitely be enforced. All you need are thousands of paid gender monitors, stationed diligently at the doors of every public restroom in the state.

North Carolina lawmakers have declared that the gender of a bathroom user must match the gender listed on his or her birth certificate. Most people don’t usually bring their birth certificates to the toilet, but perhaps reminders could be posted on highway billboards, social media and in airport terminals.

The job of the gender monitor would be to interview and inspect all persons seeking to use that particular public restroom. After reviewing a subject’s birth certificate, the gender monitor would have the discretion to require that person to disrobe for a visual examination.

Such a time-consuming procedure might be offensive, creepy and brutal on a full bladder — but how else could a gender monitor ascertain whether the person squirming at the door lawfully belongs inside that restroom?

Even after conducting a physical exam, GMs might find themselves stumped to make a conclusive determination, surgery having advanced phenomenally in the area of sexual assignment.

Obviously the first challenge facing North Carolina authorities is finding and training enough competent individuals to oversee entry to all its public restrooms. Nobody even knows how many public restrooms there are.

For traditionally divided facilities, a male gender monitor and a female gender monitor would be required. But then the question arises: What gender of gender monitor would be appropriate for a unisex bathroom?

This is all strange new territory for law enforcement.

In fact, there’s currently no such job as a professional gender monitor, except maybe in a niche market of the porn industry. That means guidelines and standards must be set.

North Carolina would be wise to open training centers for future GMs, and graduates should be certified and licensed, just like masseuses and food-truck operators are.

Bathroom sleuths will need to be schooled in the skills of wary, eagle-eyed observation: Wait, does that “guy” have boobs? Or is he just super chubby?

Or, across the hall: Good Lord, that one’s got ankles like Rob Gronkowski! What if she IS Rob Gronkowski?

Recruiting qualified GMs will be an ongoing problem, since most sane and normal people don’t like to hang around public restrooms.

The people who do like hanging around public restrooms are often perverts and predators, and they would probably perform poorly in a supervisory role.

All applicants for the position of Gender Monitor should be carefully screened for possible criminal backgrounds. They should also be evaluated by psychiatrists in order to rule out … well, lots of bad stuff.

It’s crucial for North Carolina, in this groundbreaking mission, to get things right. One little scandal could derail the whole transgender-crackdown movement.

Already there’s a national backlash, including boycotts by several major businesses and big-name musicians. The furor has spurred Gov. Pat McCrory to scramble around proclaiming his state isn’t really trying to punish the LGBT community.

Some supporters now say there was never any intent to actually police the genders of restroom users, that it would be too costly and impractical. Yet, without enforcement, the only point of such a law would be to gratuitously demean an alternative lifestyle.

And who would ever do a thing like that?

Eager defenders of the bathroom restrictions include Sen. Ted Cruz, the ever-vigilant American Family Association of Tupelo, Miss., and the city council of Oxford, Ala., which adopted a transgender restroom ordinance of its own.

The Oxford law is even tougher than the one in North Carolina, imposing up to six months in jail for anybody caught taking a leak in a facility that doesn’t match the gender on his/her birth certificate.

With only 21,000 residents to worry about, Oxford has a much smaller number of public restrooms to protect from transgender infiltration. Even so, enforcing the new law won’t come cheap. Taxpayers, brace yourselves.

If you want good people standing guard at your public potties, you’re going to have to pay them way more than a meter reader or a night security guard.

And the very last thing you want, by the way, is volunteers.

(Carl Hiaasen is a columnist for the Miami Herald. Readers may write to him at: 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132.)

(c) 2016, The Miami Herald Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: Allan Hoyle, of North Carolina, stands with bible in hand in support of Kim Davis at the Rowan County Judicial Center in Morehead, Kentucky, September 9, 2015.  REUTERS/Chris Tilley