An Open Letter to the Bathroom Bill Legislators:
By Bailey C.
If you bumped into me by mistake on your way out of the bathroom and apologized, I’d say “that’s okay man,” in my baritone voice. Would you bat an eye?
I am twenty-two years old. I have been out as a transgender man since I was nineteen and have been on testosterone for over a year. Last year, North Carolina passed a law that made transgender and non-binary people use the bathrooms, locker rooms, and other gender-specific facilities that correlate with their gender assigned at birth, based on their genitalia. Many politicians are introducing bills this year in hopes of following suit. The main idea being to prevent “men from creeping on women.”
Of course my reaction and that of other trans people was, “Come on! Are you serious?” There has never been a legitimate instance of someone posing as a transgender person just to sneak into the bathroom of the opposite sex and spy. (Although, that could happen now, since you put the thought into people’s heads). In fact, you have much more of a chance of a little boy being assaulted by an older man!
However, since this clear fact seems to go unheard by those of your mindset, let me provide some other reason why these bills are a waste of time:
There are many transgender or non-binary people who pass as the binary gender not assigned to them. As I stated before, with my appearance, you would not even know I was transgender unless I got undressed in front of you to reveal my still-pre-op chest, my feminine curves, my birthing hips, and of course my genitalia. Many trans-masculine icons would be in a similar situation, such as Buck Angel, Skylar Kergil, and Aydian Dowling. Many trans women would go under your radar as well: would you look at Julie Van Vu or Jazz Jennings and call them men? If you had absolutely no clue they were transgender, would you even think twice about letting them into the women’s room?There are also plenty of non-binary people who can pull off either binary gender on any given day. Even if you did have “suspicions” of someone being transgender…
How would you enforce the law? I know along with the proposed bill in Alabama there is the idea of stationing a guard outside every public restroom or locker room (good luck with that), but as I stated, so many pass without anyone realizing otherwise. Would you simply stop someone and question them, or would it be more extreme like a pat down, a check of the lower area, or even a body scan? (Again, good luck- especially when someone in a hurry to get to a toilet shits on the guard’s shoes!)
This not only hurts transgender people, it can hurt cisgender people as well who may not “look” like someone else’s idea of woman or man. I recall hearing and reading about many instances of a cisgender person being forced out of a bathroom (mainly women) because they didn’t “present as their gender” to whomever complained. A specific video comes to mind- a young girl was forcibly removed from a women’s bathroom by cops, due to her “masculine” appearance. Because she didn’t have her ID on her, and despite the pleas of other women in the bathroom with her, they forcibly removed her from the restroom. Keep in mind that every person’s idea of what each gender is can be different. I’ve gone through days of people calling me “he”, only to get to that one person that calls me “she”- what looks one way to one person may look another way to the next person. Are you going to force people to present how they don’t want to, regardless if they’re transgender or not?
North Carolina faced a wave of backlash- most notably famous performers pulling NC from stops on their tours. Bruce Springsteen began the trend with his pulling out, and many followed suit. Artists who are, or who support LGBT people who still toured there, donated their profits to LGBT charities. Large businesses, such as PayPal, pulled jobs from that state. The state suffered millions of dollars in losses. Are you willing to face the same, if not worse, backlash?
What are you going to do about the cisgender men who attack the little boys in the men’s room, or in some cases, the cisgender women who attack the little girls? Apparently that’s not an issue in the eyes of anyone who introduces these bills. Wyoming Rep. lawmaker, Roy Edwards, said of that issue, “God will sortthem ” Well, if you believe that, then God would certainly sort out anyone who poses as a transgender person, now wouldn’t he?
It seems transgender men aren’t an issue to people like you. I’ve heard it said that, “men can handle themselves.” Hate to break it to you (actually, no I don’t hate to), but men can easily be sexually assaulted like women can. In America alone, 1 out of every 33 men has been the victim of sexual assault and/or rape, and every 1 in 10 rape victims are men. That being said, if you are so concerned about sexual assault in this country, why not address the issue that those caught are almost never properly punished, and the victim, man or woman, is very often blamed (Women are asked ludicrous questions about what they were wearing, how much they drank, etc., and those are used to spin the blame on them. Men are laughed at and told, “men can’t be raped!”).
Your “solution” for the gender-neutral restrooms only partially works- the majority of establishments that have restrooms are multi-person, and more often than not, the single-use ones are gender-specific anyhow (Does anyone want to explain that to me???). So unless you have the magic ability to place gender-neutral restrooms in every store or restaurant that has any bathrooms in one night without costing the state a ridiculous amount of money, your argument holds no weight.``
In the long run, these bills are targeted towards those who are transgender, mainly trans women who do not pass well. In the time a non-passing trans woman is being stopped outside a women’s room and hassled, a passing trans woman has gone in, done her business, maybe fixed her lipstick, and left the restroom without anyone saying a word. It does seem that those who introduce/support these kinds of bills have no clue that there are passable transgender people. You can’t prevent people from using the restrooms. You can’t change the way transgender people are. You also can’t seem to understand your efforts are pointless. The last thing a transgender or non-binary person wants in a public restroom is to call attention to themselves. As the hashtag goes, WE JUST NEED TO PEE! (Okay, we need to poop too, but that would make the hashtag too long!) If you need me, I’ll be taking a leak in the same bathroom you are in before heading back to my day of shopping.
The trans guy next door.