B is for Bathrooms or What is the Problem, People?

BWhy does everyone have their panties in a wad about where trans* people pee? A couple of weeks ago, in the otherwise ill-fated Counseling Sexual Minorities class I took last quarter, I learned that a high number, a disproportionate number, of trans* children get UTIs because they are too afraid to use the bathroom. So, they hold it until their bodies rebel. This is not okay.

For reasons I completely fail to grasp, idiots across the country are clamoring to ban gender nonconforming people from using the restrooms of their choice. Adults. Children. Trans* folks who have transitioned, surgically, hormonally. In particular the fearmongers seem very concerned about transwomen using the women’s restroom. Which begs the question WHY?

As far as I can ascertain there’s an assumption that the only reason a transwoman would want to go into a women’s restroom is to harass or assault the other women there. This line of thinking makes no sense on many levels, but the obvious nonsense is the myth that women’s restrooms are otherwise inviolate places, some sacred sanctuaries where no man dares to tread.gender restroom

What have I missed all these years? Do all women’s restrooms have a magnetic force field that only the XX chromosome can pass through, an invisible shield that keeps out would be evildoers? There is no magical ring of protection, people. Women can be attacked anywhere, including–shocking as it may seem–the ladies’ room.

There doesn’t seem to be much concern (read fear) about transmen using the men’s restroom. At least, not on the part of cisgendered men. They don’t seem to be at all worried that a transman will attack them at the urinal. But woe to the transman who is discovered in the men’s room. Boys Don’t Cry may be a movie, but it ain’t fiction. It’s misogyny—the hatred of women, of the gender nonconforming, of those who reject the binary notions of gender, and of cisgender men and women who dare to reject traditional roles (homophobia is rooted in misogyny).

It’s also about power and privilege. It’s weirdly American to deny citizens a right as basic as the right to urinate or defecate. I’ve been to a lot of countries and only here have I encountered such a dearth of publicly accessible bathrooms. Only here is the right to pee tied to privilege. As if we can somehow force the powerless and oppressed among us to pull themselves up by withholding bathroom privileges.

binary lib

As one of the guest speakers in Counseling Sexual Minorities last quarter pointed out, why do we even have outdated pictures of men and women on restrooms? Why not put pictures on restroom doors of what is inside the restroom? Why not pictures of toilets and/or urinals? Let everyone decide which restroom they want to use based on the equipment available. Seems simple enough.

6 thoughts on “B is for Bathrooms or What is the Problem, People?

  1. I bet those people don’t have a problem with mothers bringing little boys in public bathrooms with them, which I’ll tell you, unnerved me when I was a little girl.

    When this surfaced as a locker room debate, I was astonished to hear the argument that this was just a ploy by men to get a look at naked women. Because so many cis men would pretend to be trans just to see boobs.

  2. I am glad you brought this up. It is a very touchy subject for some people but I don’t see the problem with a transgender person using whichever bathroom he or she associates most with. I feel they should wait until they have transitioned, for example, a man wants to transition into a woman but has yet to do so should use the men’s restroom. My mother in law is transgender and I have went shopping with her many times and no one questions it when she uses the woman’s restroom. Here’s the thing, unless they are questioning everyone walking into the bathroom, they won’t know who is and isn’t transgender. Thanks for sharing this! Cassie from Mommy, RN

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