It’s as much about what you see as where I can pee. Well, and a lot more, but one thing at a time. I know we have talked about “The Bathroom Issue” before, but it’s high time we revisit this fun little topic once again. Very recently we had the trans girl in Colorado who was granted separate but unequal accommodations after being kicked out of the girls room. Apparently it’s never too early to make someone feel like shit about how they were born. In case you can’t tell, I’m kind of in a mood. Even more recently it’s the always compassionate lawmakers in Arizona who mistakenly think our reality can be easily legislated out of existence just like that.
What continuously annoys me about this is the prevalent notion that where we are going to go to the bathroom is predicated on what the local statute happens to be. This is simply not the case. If we identify as women, we are going to use the ladies room if appropriately presenting as such, and same goes for the trans men in using the men’s room. This is regardless of whatever the law of the land happens to be. While I would greatly prefer not to be harassed because I just had to order the venti frappachino, I would even greatly more prefer not to be physically assaulted. That being the case, let’s just drop the notion that this is about where we are allowed to go.
The issue really comes down to how much of an effort and how many tax dollars does the local community want to sink into giving us a hard time over this. In Arizona it’s apparently quite a bit, but I’m sure by now they have achieved a downright utopian society complete with cowed citizens nervously carrying around long form birth certificates and looking over their shoulders for jolly old Sheriff Joe and his pink undie squad. Look, out of 50 states, one was bound to long for a quasi-fascist system dedicated to preventing those pesky brown people and “weird” folks from getting out of line and doing things they vaguely disapprove of that have little to no effect on their existence. After all, conservative philosophy is all about personal freedom, right?
Even with harsh laws in place to prohibit the dangerous trans folk from quietly entering a lockable stall to do their business, people are still going to go where they feel safest. Personally, I’d rather take that chance than enter any restroom that features urinals. Unless they start installing armed guards at every door, I still think my chances of peeing and getting the fuck out unscathed are way, way better in the ladies room. I think we should take a moment to look at why people feel the need to sink valuable tax dollars into a cause that may on its best day achieve a level of efficiency comparable to the war on drugs. To keep it real, I’ll even skip over Mr Krackpot Kavanagh’s pithy little “because he thinks [trans] are weird” reasoning.
I have attempted and failed to locate a scientifically conducted national poll that gauges the feeling of cisgender women regarding sharing the bathroom with transgender women. Nor have I found one regarding their feeling about the fact that at some point in their life, they probably have whether they knew it or not. Now my personal experience, which I cannot extrapolate to a national level, is that the vast majority simply don’t care so long as proper bathroom etiquette is followed. The number of reported breaches of etiquette is so tiny as to not only be statistically insignificant, but would be thrown out as extreme outliers in any scientifically conducted studies. Getting to the point, the argument that there will be a sudden influx of peeping, spied penises, or outright assault is baseless. Remember, we are already in there with you, so the best a harsh law could do is keep a statistical zero incidence rate right there at nothing.
On the far pole from conservatives who worry of impropriety, we have the RadFems who do exactly the same, worry of impropriety, but for much more esoteric reasons for the most part. Aside from arguments eerily reminiscent of those of who oppose gay marriage (acknowledging trans womanhood somehow diminishes or takes away from their womanhood), we get a lot of fox in the henhouse paranoia. To look at this fairly, no one in the ladies room is real thrilled with the idea of someone who identifies as male coming in, especially if he’s doing so with bad intentions in mind. This does actually happen, though rarely. In any case, it is farfetched to believe that cross-dressing rapists or peeping toms are making their decisions to take this approach based on transgender access. If they are already mentally committed to perpetrating one of the most heinous crimes known to humankind, it seems very unlikely that they are being held at bay only by local statute enforcement of trans bathroom prohibitions. If the threat of 20 years in prison for committing a crime while wearing a costume that renders them highly identifiable immediately after, the threat of a municipal citation is hardly going to give them pause for thought.
Finally we come to the really sticky issue that has us all perplexed. While it’s been well established that transsexual women, with very, very few exceptions, behave no differently (or better, because we don’t need the attention) in female segregated spaces, the question inevitably comes up, what about the cross-dressers? And by cross-dresser I mean a person who identifies as male, but wears, at least on occasion, female attire. This is thorny because cis and trans women aren’t that terribly comfortable having a self identified man in the bathroom with us, even if they are behaving well. The pointy end is that there is no easy way to tell the difference. In fact, I’ve noticed that many CDs look much better than I do on a day to day difference because they tend to put a lot more time into their look, and if matched up in a ‘which is which’ guessing game, I’m not so certain I’d be picked as the woman on looks alone.
Unfortunately, there is no pleasing answer to this. We could request that the world governing body of cross-dressers signs a pledge to steer clear of the ladies room when in public, but there isn’t one; just a lot of individuals running around and a bunch of local clubs and support groups. We could go the Arizona route and hire an army of German accented potty police who say, “Ve need to see your papers!” in an adorable fashion. Dare I say panty checks anyone? Or we can take the reasonable course of action as good citizens and report bad behavior as we witness it.
The bathroom issue really isn’t so much an issue as a societal decision to either acknowledge our existence and where we already taking care of a private natural function, or if political action and tax dollars should be spent to ineffectually dissuade trans people from peeing where they are going to anyway. What really remains to be seen is if the recent changing tides in LGB civil rights are being extended in the T direction yet or not. Either way, we aren’t going anywhere.
And yes, I hardly touched on little Coy Mathis, the bathroom banned trans girl from Colorado, but she deserves her own post, so look for that in 3 days time.