I’ve lost count (or more accurately, I’ve never bothered to keep a count) of the number of times I was at a public event — concerts, sporting events, conventions, etc — where the I was in the men’s room at a time when it was “liberated” by one or more women who didn’t want to wait in the noticeably longer lines for the ladies room.
One particular event does stand out in my memory: a Tori Amos concert in the late 90s in New Brunswick, NJ. It’s memorable for the sheer number of women who went into the men’s room. I didn’t count, but it must’ve been at least ten.
I didn’t engage them in any real capacity, other than to make sure I didn’t bump elbows with any of them while I was washing my hands and maybe holding the door for one of them behind me as I walked out of the bathroom.
In other words, they were no different from any other fellow public restroom users to me.
On the flip side, when I’m in a small place where the only difference between the two genders’ bathrooms is the sign outside the door, I honestly don’t know why they need to be gender segregated at all. This is really noticeable when you need to use the bathroom, and one of them is going unused but you can’t use it because it’s not your gender.
These bathroom bills that are being pushed by religious conservatives are a solution to a nonexistent problem. They’re worried that sexual predators might target children in the bathroom and try to excuse it by saying they’re transgender and therefore entitled to use a bathroom despite different genitalia.
I’m not trying to argue that pedophiles might look for different ways of targeting children if you’re not careful, but really? If a stranger — regardless of gender or gender identity — tries to engage my children in the bathroom, they know to stay away from him or her. It’s really that simple.
But there is a real history of attacks on transgender people in bathrooms because they used the restroom suited to their identity and not to their genitalia. Even murders. If we want to have bathroom bills, how about protecting an already vulnerable and poorly understood subset of the community?
I’ve previously written about how there are times when we might not want to play the roles that society might dictate to us for any reason, including gender roles. I concede that this is a gross oversimplification of the issues that transgender and genderfluid people have to deal with every day. But I’d like to think it’s a good start.
Also worth asking, is what the proponents of these bills are really worried about. I think of the story of Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis. After they eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, they become aware of their nakedness and are ashamed of it. I think very few children are naturally ashamed to be naked, and the rest are quite comfortable being naked. In other words, if we didn’t have that story, very few people would actually be ashamed of their bodies. Maybe these bathroom bills are really just another way of shaming people for having to expose the lower halves of their bodies.