Dispatch From The Restroom Wars

| Nov 24, 2015
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The citizens of the city of Houston, Texas voted down an ordinance that would have provided legal protections to many of their fellow citizens, not just LGBT individuals. They were motivated to defeat the ordinance by a concerted media attack that ginned up fears that the anti-discrimination law would somehow open the door to rapists posing as trans women to enter public lady’s rooms and assault women.

Of course rapists looking for prey don’t need a law to give them access to public restrooms for nefarious purposes. They are already set to break the law about attacking and raping people so it’s hardly likely that they would care at all about the legal protection they might get from claiming to be a trans woman. And how many rapists are willing to get dressed up in women’s clothing just to make that claim if anyone questioned them at the restroom door?

No, the idea that Houston’s anti-discrimination law would do anything to promote sexual perverts attacking women is ludicrous. So how did people in that city become convinced it would cause a rise in sex crimes?

A few years ago while working for The Renaissance Education Association, Inc. I was a call-in guest on a radio talk show. I was on the air to discuss trans issues and take questions from callers. I was asked in the course of the show what restroom I used when I was out and about. I replied that since I was dressed as a female I would use the lady’s room. I stressed that I would go in, get into the stall, do what needed to be done and leave quickly. Going into the men’s room in heels and a dress would have caused far more disruption.  A few minutes after that revelation one of the callers didn’t have a question. It was a man who made a statement that if he caught me in the lady’s room with his wife he would kill me. Absolutely end my life because I was peeing in the stall next to his spouse.

Such idiotic rage grows strictly out of emotion and has no input from a rational part of the brain. The guy I encountered on the talk show might as well have been thumping his chest, waving a club and grunting. The show’s host put him down for his violent overreaction and ended the call. It is that sort of ignorance fueled by fear that causes people who don’t understand that life is not just black and white but a rainbow of diversity. They live with fear that their world is being taken by minorities and men who insist they are women. They call Caitlyn Jenner a “walking train wreck” and believe that if gay people marry it somehow ruins marriage for the rest of the world. By appealing to emotions, fear and anger, that’s how the conservative powers in Houston defeated the HERO bill. All we can try to do is educate people about who we are and what we need to live reasonable lives. It’s hard when they won’t listen. When they diminish trans people by refusing to treat them as members of their true gender, and go on about how trans people are either freaks or they’re doing what they do for attention, or because of mental problems, it’s hard to educate them. But we have to try.

Women have nothing to fear from trans women in restroom facilities or locker rooms. Trans women are not there to violate anyone’s “safe space.” No trans woman is going to show anyone her genitals or do anything violent toward the other people in the lady’s room. Trans women will go out of their way to be discreet, not attract attention, and certainly not frighten anyone. They just need to use the restroom, or get changed back into their street clothes after exercise. Anyone who does make a scene in the lady’s room is out of line and probably shouldn’t be in there.

Another anecdote comes to mind. Renaissance and IFGE had an exhibit booth at a social workers convention back when both organizations were actively working to educate the public about trans issues. I arrived in my red power suit and stepped into the lady’s room to check my appearance before I went to the booth. Some of the women, all social workers, grew concerned that my leg was bleeding and pointed it out to me. I had cut myself on my calf while shaving that morning and hadn’t noticed. They helped me to clean the blood off of my hose with a damp paper towel and were very nice and very helpful. That happened over a decade ago and shows that change in attitudes was beginning.

The world is still changing and definitions of what is male, what is female, are shifting. The fearful will always strike out at what they don’t understand and try to explain the changes according to their own belief system. Until everyone understands that trans people are no threat but a natural occurrence in humanity, we have to carry on, be careful, and show the world we are as normal as anyone.

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Category: Transgender Opinion, Transgender Politics


About the Author ()

Angela Gardner is a founding member of The Renaissance Transgender Assoc., Inc., former editor of its newsletter and magazine, Transgender Community News. She was the Diva of Dish for TGF in the late 1990s and Editor of LadyLike magazine until its untimely demise. She has appeared in film and television shows portraying TG characters, as well as representing Renaissance on numerous talk shows.

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  1. JosyC JosyC says:

    Great article! Strange thing to have a war over, but definitely worth the fight.