Yesterday, on a Facebook thread regarding transgender folks and bathrooms, a newer friend of mine posted the following, which I have abridged only for length.
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As you know Gina, I am new to the understanding of the transgender world as far as understanding what all you go through. Because of you and others I have reached out to for real life experiences and what a transgender person goes through I am looking at this bathroom issue from both sides.
Seventeen years ago I went out with my mother-in-law for lunch with my newborn. I got up from the table and went to a family bathroom to breast feed my baby. I didn’t want others to be uncomfortable with me feeding my baby in the most natural, healthy way.
As a victim of assault as a young teenager, I am still very sensitive of potential danger. I have raised three girls and have done everything in my power to keep them safe, as I would have with boys. While I have said to you before with the school situation that brought me to you for understanding and information, I don’t want anyone to be put at risk for any harm for being their true self. While I don’t fear someone whom is transgender, I don’t agree with the gender specific areas being open for anyone male or female to enter them, Those out to cause harm to another are always looking for easy prey and I believe this makes it easier for them.
Most areas have family restrooms for many reasons, fathers out with their young daughters, etc., to give them a safe place to do their business without sending them into a bathroom alone or taking their daughter into a men’s bathroom where they stand against the wall. Am I being insensitive by wanting the gender specific areas to remain and the family/gender neutral areas to be single occupancy? For the potential of being a little safer I have a hard time believing that I am.
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Dear friend ~
You betcha you are on guard for your children, just as I was with my four kids.
I totally understand the desire for privacy, such as you describe, and those who have experienced terrible personal assaults as you have. I admire you for not wanting to make others uncomfortable, and feel the same way about myself.
One never knows the history or current mind-set of the many strangers which might be encountered at any given time. Everyone has baggage, and some folks out in the world have great personal struggles, fears, concerns, and needs which are impossible to see simply by observing the person.
One also hopes that people will simply not be paranoid. Yes, our guard goes up in the situations and aftermaths you describe. Even so, that does not make the risk go up, only the sense of risk. I am reminded of a friend who is extremely afraid of bridges. With her one time as she drove over one, she kept saying, “It’s only a bridge. It’s only a bridge.” The danger for her was no greater than for anyone else crossing that span. It wasn’t the bridge that needed mending, but her perception of it.
When you say, “I don’t agree with the gender specific areas being open for anyone male or female to enter them,” what does this mean? Look at my profile picture. Am I male or female? The fact is, I am intersex. Who gets to decide which one, male or female, rules me? Are my hormones, which tell me I am female, to take second to my body, which is male? Who decides?
Which bathroom should I use? If I go into the men’s room, I am going to face trouble, or laughter, or worse. I truly fear being beaten in a men’s room when presenting as a female.
I, and all my trans women friends, use the women’s rooms, we do so the same as all women do, and we blend in. Rarely do trans women go out in public who are dressed, as one keeps hearing from those against us, as “a man in a dress,” with five o’clock shadow, ill-fitting wigs, and clothes and makeup that are not appropriate to the location. No, we blend in because we want and need to blend in. We are just regular people, who dress and act like regular people.
I personally am okay with there being special bathrooms open to anyone who wants a personal space—where a dad can take a daughter, where a trans person can feel more comfortable, whatever the situation. Let’s have men’s rooms, women’s rooms, and unisex rooms everywhere. I would gladly use them equally for MY comfort, though I navigate women’s restrooms just fine. But, you have those trans folks who don’t want to be singled out because the singling out is a signal that “freaks need to be kept separate.” And, when that is the reason, I stand in opposition to the haters and shoulder-to-shoulder with my trans friends.
I don’t see you as insensitive. Perhaps, you have been hearing some of the scare tactics and they have played on your mind, and you are more sensitive because of the situations you described. Look up the statistics. You will find extremely few instances of trans people sexually assaulting others. No, the rapists and pedophiles are almost always males, who purport to be heterosexual, who blend in with society as regular-looking guys, who often are married and have kids, who don’t have to stoop to dressing as women because they already know how to make their opportunities. THESE are the ones who are predators.
The argument is always brought up about children in bathrooms who would be at risk of men dressed as women who are out to harm them. But, what about boys in men’s rooms and the male predators that have always been out there? The present situation is ignored and scenarios are created that are highly unlikely.
The people who are against us have set up a false argument in order to scare people. They should be ashamed of themselves.
We trans folks might actually be better behaving in public than the general population for the sole purpose that we do not want trouble, because, if we wind up in trouble, our problems are going to be multiplied because we are trans. So, we shop and eat out and do everything else with very good behavior. We use restrooms quietly, get in and out, because we just want to pee and get safely back to living.
For people out in the public to be a little safer, transgender people are not the issue. We never have been. We are not now. We are being unfairly picked on by those who hate us. This really is no different than when, fifty years ago, whites were disgusted at the thought of sitting next to a person of color, or attending the same school, or sharing a seat on a bus or the same water fountain. Those whites could not imagine black people being equal to their bigoted idea of who they were in American society.
Many people think that, because I am transgender, I am less than them. I am mentally ill. I am a kook. A freak. They are superior for no more of a reason than they supposedly have their act together. They are not weaklings as I am. They are not perverts, sexual fetishists, trying to be someone they are not.
Their shit doesn’t stink.
It is the same mind-set that so many whites had for blacks, and one which many whites still have for blacks—I’ve heard it plenty in my lifetime—and for anyone who doesn’t meet their personal standard, and I am not even going to get into the hatred many have for Muslims, Jews, and others not like these bigots. Because we transgender folks finally have a voice in American society, we now are the whipping girl and boy for the prejudiced class which believes it is superior.
We are a threat to their sense of what is “normal.” They are either too lazy, or too prejudiced, or too bent on whatever their ideology is to learn why we are transgender and what kind of people we are.
They are people who do not want to learn that people like me are just as upstanding as the most upstanding, just as much of a contributor to good in the USA as the best of contributors, highly educated, very successful, hardworking blue collar laborers, health care workers, teachers, serving in the armed forces, faithful spouses, caring parents and grandparents, good neighbors, volunteers, loyal friends—in every way people which make our neighborhoods and towns and churches and schools and workplaces—and the USA—better for our being in them.
What we need is balance. We need calm. We need people speaking with care and listening with patience. We need everyone, on every side of any serious issue, to have compassion for their fellow man. We need honest discussion, not lies and scare tactics.
When we do things right, we can do this successfully for the good of the USA. When we don’t, well, we have good people like you who are properly concerned about what is going on around them, and yet needlessly concerned about things which will never be a problem for them.