A Word on Bathrooms

I was at Starbucks the other day, and after two coffees and three hours of work, I headed to the restroom in the back of the store. It was somewhat crowded, so I fully anticipated there might be a line in the women’s room, as is usually the case, but as I approached I saw two bathroom doors, each marked with both the familiar male and female symbol.

I paused. I figured these must be single stall bathrooms, and for a moment I wondered (a bit uncomfortably) whether a male or female voice would greet me when I knocked on the door? I did not hesitate long (I really had to pee!) and chose the closest door. I knocked. There was no reply. I pushed the door open slowly revealing what was indeed, a single stall. When I returned to my table, I did what I normally do when I’m taking a break – I pulled up my favorite news sight to look at the headlines and lo and behold what did I find? Our president has pulled federal transgender bathroom protections.

I guiltily thought about my experience approaching the single stall bathrooms at Starbucks, my momentary discomfort at the idea of having a man in the same bathroom I was about the use, and how quickly I was able to get over it. I wondered what I would do if I encountered a man IN the bathroom with me?

At this point, you may be wondering what side of the issue I’m on? So let me be clear about this: I’m not a big fan of having a man in the bathroom with me while I’m using it… But to call or consider a transgendered woman a man is offensive and demonstrated ignorance of the issue.

buck-angelLet me bring the following to your attention:
This is Buck Angel. Buck was born female. Buck is now male. See Buck pose like a male model? I do not want Buck in the bathroom with me. If I went into the restroom and saw Buck, I’d likely think I was in the wrong room. He’s likely to feel awkward and uncomfortable, too, so really no one wins.
This second photo? This is Andrea James. She was born a man. She’s an accomplished writer, produced, and activist. I wouldn’t give her a second look in a restroom.

andreaYes, I do understand that there are folks who are undergoing a transition, and they don’t necessarily look as male or female as these two examples. That’s absolutely okay with me. If a person is presenting themselves as female, it will be evident.

coyCan I show you one more picture? This is Coy Mathis. She’s 6 years old and was born male. Do you want her parents to have to
send her to the men’s restroom? Would you want your little six-year-old baby girl in a restroom with grown men? Imagine how awkward and uncomfortable that would be. Oh, and would you want your little girl to have to fight for the right to go to the correct bathroom? That’s what little Coy had to do.

Now that you’ve met some transgendered people, let me point out something to you: You do not have to agree with the idea of being transgendered – It’s your right to think that way. But even if your religion or moral principles mean that you cannot support a person undergoing a transition in their presentation of gender, you can still decide that it is okay for that same person to be in the bathroom with you. No one is asking you to change your sex. We’re just asking that you seriously consider this whole bathroom issue before deciding what to support. If you’re a woman, really, really think about this. Do you want Buck in your bathroom? Does he want to be in your bathroom?

Finally, let me address a few of the augments people use against transgendered people and their restroom rights in this brief list:

  1. Perverts are already perfectly capable of sneaking into restrooms to do harm, and we already have plenty of laws to protect the public. Unfortunately, children and adults of all genders will be assaulted in public bathrooms with or without these laws.
  2. Trans people are more often the victims of sexual violence than the perpetrators.
  3. There are not enough unisex/gender neutral bathrooms for transgendered persons to be covered in every circumstance. I didn’t want to hold it in Starbucks, and I’m sure you wouldn’t either.

Now, I ask you to set aside your ideas about transgendered-ness for the moment and consider one thing: These are human beings we are talking about. People. You may not agree with every decision they’ve made in their lives, but they deserve respect and dignity. They deserve jobs and kindness, love and a peaceful life. Now, get out of their way, and let them go pee!

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