We Can’t Just Go

The men's room of the New People shopping cent...

The men’s room of the New People shopping center in Japantown, San Francisco, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have not weighted in yet on the mess in Florence Colorado. A mess, by the way, created almost entirely by out-of-state agitators. Bigots, so desperate to protect their privilege that they manufacture a crisis in another community to create fear of the other in their own. The Pacific Justice Institute are the lowest of the low, and walk hand in hand with their cronies in the leadership in the Mormon church who spent millions campaigning against marriage equality. Why they cannot just live in peace is a puzzle, though one which we have pieced together just a little. Still, I did not want to write about this situation until I had something to add.

Really, though, it is not adding anything. It is just pointing out that among the other horrible things surrounding this case that we in the trans community are faced with particular peril in a situation almost everyone else can take for granted: using public restrooms. Around the country the forces of small mindedness have been fighting laws created to protect us in these spaces or pushing for laws to deny us access to them.  Everyone needs to go to the bathroom, but for us it is often a difficult proposition.

I was reminded of this last Saturday when enjoying a night out with a lovely group of ladies. We had stayed out later than intended and at fortyish two PBRs and more than a few shots are going to want out after three hours. I had not been in this particular establishment in a while so I had forgotten that their bathrooms were single use, and while gendered, I would probably not face much harassment. So I had my good friend be my bodyguard on the way. I did not want someone screaming at me if I used the ladies’ room or attacking me if I used the men’s room.

Because that is the reality we face. If I use the women’s room I risk being called a pervert, accused of invading women’s spaces, and even face arrest for public indecency. If I use the men’s room I face threats, actual physical attacks, and possibly even rape. That is the world so many of us live in, and the world poor Jane Doe has to face, and fight she has quite against her will been thrust into the middle of. All she wants is to be herself, which includes being able to relieve herself in peace, but the monsters will not let her do so.

No doubt Jane already knew all this. You do not get to be trans for very long without having it thrown in your face. Oh, and by the way, the description of the dangers in the last paragraph goes for both trans women and trans men. None of us are safe. One of the most ubiquitous and necessary public spaces in our society is a battle ground for us, and often a nightmarish one. We need better laws to protect us. We either need to have our gender expression positively recognized in those spaces, or our society needs more gender neutral spaces. We have a right to be here, and we can’t just go.

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