Saturday, April 23, 2016

Public Restrooms...

...and why it shouldn't matter who uses which ones.

I don't generally pick divisive topics for this blog, but hey, I have this tiny public platform that some people read and occasionally I can't resist the temptation to throw my voice in with the other voices of reason I see around the internet. Hopefully the more people who write about it, the more people will start to see reason. Or at least it will generate conversation... so here goes...

Where transgender people get to pee has been in the news a lot lately. A couple of states are trying to require that people only pee in the bathroom that matches their birth certificate, and lately Target has been brought under fire by conservative groups because it has instated a "pee wherever you identify" policy for all of its employees and customers.

Why are people upset? Well according to them...
"Target's policy is exactly how sexual predators get access to their victims," AFA President Tim Wildmon said in an open letter. "This means a man can simply say he 'feels like a woman today' and enter the women's restroom ... even if young girls or women are already in there." (Quote taken from a Business Insider article written by Haley Peterson)
Umm... It's difficult to know where to begin with how messed up that statement is. So first of all, let's look at how things stand currently. At this moment, in the states that haven't bothered to try to make it illegal, there are no laws stating that men have to use men's restrooms and women have to use women's restrooms. It's just common practice. Think about it, if it were already illegal then the states that are currently trying to ban transgender access to the public restroom they feel most comfortable with wouldn't need to do anything. It would ALREADY BE ILLEGAL. But it's not...

So, right now (and for the last... FOREVER), there is NOTHING keeping sexual predators out of public restrooms except a stick figure silhouette. So, if that's your great fear, then why haven't you been worried about it YOUR WHOLE LIFE?

Chances are, you haven't worried about it because it doesn't happen very often. And here's the kicker, no matter what the policy on public restroom access is SEXUAL ASSAULT IS STILL ILLEGAL. Just because someone was "allowed" to be in a public restroom does not mean that person is allowed to sexually assault whoever else is in there. It's not like public restrooms are law free zones where suddenly you can do any damn thing you want, laws be damned. If a sexual predator wants in to a public restroom all they have to do is go in there. That's true right now and will remain true whether or not you let transgender people pee where they feel most comfortable.

So now let's address the real issue. If you are freaked out by transgender people using a public restroom, that's probably because transgender people (who are by and large not interested in doing anything besides peeing and fixing their hair when they enter a public restroom) probably freak you out. That may be because you can't possibly fathom what it's like to be born with one sex but identify so strongly with the other that you feel the need to change your physical appearance/physique. You may think it's weird, or gross, or unnatural, or any other number of things, and you're welcome to your opinion, but that doesn't mean you get to discriminate against these folks. These people are just trying to go about their lives and pee without making a scene. You have probably already peed in the same public restroom as a transgender person and never had a clue.... Because despite what you may think, not all transgender people are obviously transgender.

In fact there are many transgender people who would cause quite an uproar by being forced to pee in the bathroom that fits with the sex they were born with. And one of the main reasons that transgender people would like to pee in the bathroom that they identify with now, is not because they have creepy ulterior motives, or because they think it's just more fun, but because they JUST WANT TO PEE and don't want to be accosted while doing so.

Take Aydian Dowling:

He is clearly a dude. If you saw him go into a women's bathroom you'd be like, "Bro, wrong door. The men's room is over here." And he would be like, "Thanks, man. How embarrassing." And you would both chuckle, because clearly this man was heading into the ladies' room by accident. 

But Aydian Dowling was born a woman, and if you start forcing folks to go pee in the place where their birth certificate indicates they should, you would be forcing him to use the women's restroom. And hey, I would welcome Aydian Dowling in the ladies' room, but I think that's the opposite of what you people are freaking out about.

And how about Adreja Pejic?

If you saw her walking into a men's room you'd probably turn her around to the ladies' and giggle about it as well. But again, this woman's birth certificate states her sex as male, so if you were in North Carolina she'd just have to shrug and go into the men's room anyway. 

Or what about any of these ladies?

Are we sensing a theme here yet? There are lots of trans folks that you would never guess were trans. And there are others who are obviously so, but that shouldn't matter. What matters is, there are people in this world who just want to go pee without getting harassed by law enforcement, or anyone else, just like the rest of us, and they should be allowed to do so. 

And keep in mind that laws like these hurt everyone. You might assume that only transgender people will be embarrassed and given a hard time by this law, but what about the mannish looking women, the effeminate men, or the girls who dress in baggy "men's" clothing? Are they all supposed to put up with being ID'd at the entrance to the public restroom? What about your aunt Mildred who has always had a rather square jaw? Will she be humiliated the next time she has to pee at Walmart? Asked to produce her birth certificate to prove that she's always been a woman? How the hell is that anyone's business? And why on earth would we put ANYONE through that? Chances are, no one's going to look twice at Aydian Dowling when he walks into the men's room, but your aunt Mildred is going to be harassed every time she has to pee outside of her home. So how does that make legal sense?

Transgender people face discrimination, threats of violence, and worse, on a daily basis. They are not looking to prey on unsuspecting bathroom goers. They are simply trying to pee and then get on with their lives. The current law in most states enables them to do that, so why are we going out of our way to keep them from it?

Please stop making excuses about sexual predators in bathrooms and start letting people who aren't hurting anyone go about their lives. If you have nothing better to do than worry about where someone else chooses to urinate, it might be a sign that you need some new hobbies. Try reading some books, maybe something about treating other human beings with respect and kindness. Just a thought.

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