Preamble: a while back, I wrote this bit about how sometimes it’s okay to really wallow around in our feelings. To feel the sadness, the anger, whatever it is. That feelings just want to be felt and if welcomed them in and allowed ourselves to feel them and explore them, we’d be much better off. Some time after that I started to think about doing a regular article about wallowing. The Wednesday Wallow, or the Wednesday Whine, or the Mid-Week Moan. Because alliteration. I thought maybe it would be good to get some of those conversations I have with myself inside my head out of my head. So here’s a Wednesday Whine. I can’t promise they will come every Wednesday, or that I’ll be able to wait until next Wednesday for the next one. Anything could happen.
In my family, when we sit around and talk, inevitably, the conversation will come back to sex or the toilet. Or more often, both. Turns out that this isn’t unique to my family, it seems to also happen with my volleyball team and my friends. Sex and the toilet are sources of never ending funny stories. Or maybe it’s just me.
Interestingly enough, sex and the toilet have been in the news a lot lately, and sadly, it hasn’t been funny at all. In fact, it’s been pissing me off to no end.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about North Carolina’s so called “bathroom bill” which requires transgender people to use the public bathroom that corresponds with their assigned sex. Assigned sex is based on the equipment you were born with. If the doctor looked between your legs and saw a penis, you were assigned male, a vagina, you were assigned female.
Now (again, unless you’ve been living under a rock) you know that not all people identify as the gender that matches their assigned sex. Transgender is an umbrella term used to encompass people whose gender identity is not the same as their assigned sex. Some trans* people take medical and surgical steps to transition to a different gender. Some do not.
Bathroom bills like the North Carolina one require that an individual use the public washroom that matches their assigned sex, on their birth certificate.
Why? Because pedophiles. And maybe rapists.
Yes folks, those who argue for bathroom bills like the one in North Carolina are saying that these laws are necessary to keep pedophiles from having access to the public washrooms designated for women in order to keep our little girls safe from pedophiles. And women safe from rapist douchebags.
This line of reason defies logic so much that it makes we want to claw my eyes out. I don’t even really know where to start with this, so I’m going jump right in.
I’ll give all the “but pedophiles” people a little bit of credit and assume that they are not saying that trans* people are likely to be pedophiles. I have to do that so that I don’t go into a murderous rage. No, what these people are saying is without this law, male pedophiles could claim to be trans*, allowing them to use the women’s bathroom where they will have access to lots of little girls that they can prey upon.
These are the same people who will argue that gun control can’t work because criminals don’t follow laws anyway. I guess pedophiles are more law abiding than other criminals? Oh, there’s a law that says I can’t go into that bathroom? I guess I won’t then. But this law that says I can’t molest children — no, I’m gonna ignore that one.
Never mind that these are the exact same pedophiles that are currently sharing the bathroom with the little boys of the people who want to protect their little girls. I once saw someone bring this up on a forum somewhere — “why isn’t anybody worried about little boys?”, and one guy’s answer was — I shit you not — “BECAUSE THERE BOYS”. All caps and incorrect use of “there” his, not mine. So I guess that means that a) we don’t care about boys being sexually abused, b) we don’t think pedophiles sexually abuse boys, or c) we think that somehow little boys are more capable of protecting themselves from grown men than little girls are. Sure. That makes all kinds of sense.
And I don’t know about you, but when my kids were little, I used to make them go to the washroom with me. Yes, I made my 5 year old boy enter the women’s washroom. Because I had this thing about supervising my young children. Maybe I’m just crazy.
Also, let’s just bring in the little fact that statistically, a child is far more likely to be abused by someone they know than by a stranger in a public bathroom. Most cases of abuse involve family members, friends, members of the community or church. So maybe these people should be more worried about the bathrooms in their houses than the ones at Target.
Even if people want to be afraid of nothing, has no one considered the total impracticality of this type of law? I have visited all kinds of public bathrooms, all over the world, in my 45 years on this planet, and never, not even once, have I been asked to prove my sex or gender to make use of the facilities. I have not been asked to display my genitalia, or produce my birth certificate. Never. I have even used the bathroom designated for men on more than one occasion, has have most women I know. Because I seriously have no idea why the line for the women’s washroom is so long. Seriously, what are women doing in there? I am the fastest pee-r of anyone I know, male or female (seriously, ask my friends). You go in the stall, you do your business, you wash your hands and get the hell out. Why would you want to spend more time in there than you have to? It’s not a day spa. Anyway, even when I have used the men’s washroom rather than pee my pants, no one has cared.
Of course, some of these well meaning people have decided that they will set up guard outside public bathrooms and prevent anyone who they think is attempting to use the wrong bathroom from entering. In fact, there have been cases where security guards have forcibly removed women from a women’s public bathrooms because in their assessment, the person using the washroom didn’t look female. And I’m pretty sure some trans men are going to be in big trouble when they try to be law abiding citizens and use the ladies room. Do you people even know what you’re asking for?
Here’s a newsflash folks. You actually can’t definitively tell from looking at someone what their gender is. What is a woman supposed to look like? What’s a man supposed to look like? What about a teenager? My son spent the years between the ages of 10 and 12 constantly being referred to as female by strangers.
Last year (at least I think it was last year, I have no sense of time any more — I think 1990 was 10 years ago) my friend and I went to a Black Sabbath concert. After the show, we went to use the bathroom. I was waiting for my friend when a dude entered the ladies room. He looked typically male, so let’s assume that my assessment was correct and he was in fact male. Now, I have no idea why he was in there, given that it’s almost always more efficient to use the men’s bathroom, but hey, maybe he was drunk and didn’t know where he was, or didn’t see the sign, or he needed to take a dump and all the stalls in the men’s bathroom were full. Maybe he just felt more comfortable in the women’s bathroom. I have no idea. But do you know what happened when this man walked into the women’s bathroom? He went into a stall, presumably did whatever toileting he needed to do (I didn’t check or ask), washed his hands and left. It was a total non-event. He didn’t wave his penis at anyone in a threatening manner, he didn’t do or say weird things, he didn’t approach anybody, he didn’t look under stalls. He used the toilet and left.
People, the fact is that trans* people are far, far, far more likely to be the victims of violence and assault than anyone else using a public washroom. And believe me when I tell you that where to go the bathroom when in public is a huge source of anxiety for many trans* people.
If you truly have an interest in protecting our little girls, start doing things that might actually protect them. Quit worrying about other people’s sex and gender and start worrying about making the world a better place by educating yourself, and your kids — your girls, your boys, your trans* kids.
People just want to pee.