The porch of the bar is clouded in smoke, as any good dive bar’s porch should be. The man standing before me, slightly swaying with a Rainier in his hand, asks his question with a genuine air of befuddlement.
“Which bathroom do you use?”
“The women’s, of course,” I reply somewhat tersely.
“But you have-”
“Ah ah,” I interrupt, “do you want to have sex with me?”
“That’s the only reason you should be asking about what’s in my pants, and frankly if that’s your very first question I don’t want to have sex with you.” (Since this was more than two years into my transition, I no longer bowed meekly to strangers alluding to my genitalia.)
Tired of conversing with a drunkard who was in no condition to earnestly listen to the finer points of the bathroom debate, and coincidentally needing to pee, I go to the bathroom.
The women’s bathroom. Because I am a woman. Transgender people will typically use the restroom of the gender they identify with, unless fear or unjust laws prohibit them from doing so. More importantly, we are in there for the same reason you are- to urinate, defecate, do our makeup, wash our hands, or blow our noses.
Much has been made in the so-called “bathroom debate” of the potential risk to young girls if “men” are allowed to use women’s restrooms and locker facilities, with right-wing pundits arguing either that paedophiles will pose as transwomen to attack little girls or that anyone can just stroll into any bathroom or locker-room and… commit what is already a serious felony?
Therein lies the logic gap (or perhaps chasm); the acts which right-wing lawmakers are so concerned about are already criminal. Rape is a crime. Child abuse is a crime. Exposing yourself in a sexual manner to a child is a crime. Furthermore, there is not a single documented instance of a transwoman attacking anyone in a public restroom. Transwomen are far more likely to be the victims of sexual violence than perpetrators of it.
So given that we pose no increased risks and that there already exist legal punishments for sexual assault, why do right-wing legislators keep proposing bathroom bills? Well there’s the conservative impulse to try and prevent any change, but really it boils down to fear that is based on an extremely toxic misperception- that transwomen are men. In many conservative circles, we’re not just viewed as men, but as mentally ill men. It’s not just simple hate that spawns these bills, but a pervasive fear on the part of many conservative men about being unable to protect “their” women.
However toxic that mindset may be, even within its absurd parameters it is logically inconsistent, for the simple reason that transwomen are no better or worse than any other woman in the bathroom with your child. Denying us our civil rights is not a solution to a “problem” that doesn’t exist.
Okay! *whew* Now that we’re past the serious stuff, here are some of the more absurd or just plain funny questions I’ve been asked about or while in the bathroom.
Do you pee standing up?
Never in public and very rarely in private, as I find it more comfortable to sit. Though I can’t imagine the relevance of the position of my urination to your understanding of me as a person.
Do you have a tampon?
First of all, thank you for massively affirming my gender. The first time I was asked this it was “no”, but now I try to carry one or two in case a friend or just a kindly drunken stranger needs one.
Are you sure you’re in the right place?
Why yes, scowling elderly lady, I am quite sure, since my bladder is completely full and this is a woman’s restroom. I would have thought the breasts, dress, stockings, cute flats, long well-groomed hair, and lipstick would have communicated that I identify as female and thus would prefer to use the women’s lavatory.
So you must have a vagina if you use the women’s, right?
What? You know that men and women typically use the same toilet in private homes, right? As long as you have a functioning urethra and the establishment has running water, a standard toilet will work regardless of your genitalia.
As always, thank you so much for reading! Please feel free to ask further questions in the comments, and I will do my best to answer them. Also, if you like this blog, sign up for email updates by clicking the little button just below this post. If you really like this blog and don’t mind helping me reach a wider audience, click one of those “share” buttons below! Thank you again!
(Photo by Paul Green on Unsplash)
One thought on “The Question of Bathrooms”
So well expresed.