Laws are cropping up all over the United States banning people who are transgender from using the appropriate bathrooms for their gender identities. In some places, these laws have gone so far as to inflict fines or jail time (six months to be precise, in Oxford, AL) in for using a bathroom which isn’t labeled for their assigned gender on their birth certificates. (Who the hell brings their birth certificate with them to the bathroom and frankly who ASKS to see one?)
Do you know how hard it is to get your birth certificate changed? Damned hard in most states, literally impossible in others. Which means that trans people wanting to use a public bathroom in many places now face an impossible choice – pee in a bathroom where they don’t feel comfortable, or face jail time for using the bathroom, and in either case, potentially face harassment or physical danger for doing either.
And here’s the kicker – that means that people in public bathrooms are planning to police what gender looks like. If you don’t present a certain way, you’ll be faced with some hellish experiences. This is discrimination, pure and simple, and while you might think that this is just about “keeping women safe” you’re damned wrong.
Here’s an example, from when I was around 9 or 10 – long before people were crying wolf that trans folks are predators who want to pee next to YOUR WOMEN.
I had short hair, I liked to wear corduroy pants and collared shirts, and I was a wee bit of a tomboy. At 9 or 10 my grandmother would drop me off to see theater at the Seattle Children’s Theater by myself, I had a season pass so I could see all the shows there. One day I went to the bathroom, and I remember I was wearing a black, white and grey flannel shirt. An elderly woman literally chased me out of the bathroom, shrieking that “little boys” didn’t belong there, and she actually hit me with her purse.
I am not trans, I am not genderqueer, I just liked wearing those clothes because that’s what I wanted to wear. An important thing to remember here: I was upset and ashamed because a woman physically attacked me because she didn’t think that I belonged in a bathroom, based on what HER opinion of what a girl should look like.
We cannot allow people to police bathroom standards. We cannot allow fear to rule bathrooms because there’s so so many reasons to leave people alone. ONe is obviously that gender presetation is personal, and no one should have to confirm to looking “normal” in order to pee. Another is the constant struggle for single parents to take their children to the bathroom – whether it’s a single father with a daughter, or a mom out by herself with her son, no one should have to worry about whether or not they can go to the bathroom with their child if they need help.
Transgender people belong in bathrooms. Parents belong in bathrooms. Boys with long hair and girls with suits belong in bathrooms. People with disabilities who need assistance getting their wheelchair into the disability stall also belong in bathrooms – and sometimes you’re not out with the people of the “right” gender to help you. I’ve used more than one bathroom where the ability to get in with my chair is damned challenging with no spatial skills. Sometimes, you need help.
But I want to make this clear: the people at the center of this, the people whose lives are in danger, whose lives are being most impacted by the hateful stances these laws in places like North Carolina and Alabama, are TRANSGENDER PEOPLE. They are the ones who are being chased from bathrooms, who are being scrutinzied in the mirror by the person next to them, they are the ones who are in danger for needing to do what every body on this planet needs – to pee.
Bigotry does not belong in bathrooms.
This is an obscene abuse of the law. End of story.