If you ask me what my gender is on a general day-to-day basis, I’ll probably give you a non-committal wave, or kind of shrug my shoulders, or say (one of my all time favorites), the ever-eloquent, “Eh?”
I’m non-binary and gender fluid – that is, I pretty much generally lie outside of the “traditional” gender binary. It’s all a bit of a grey area for me: how I view myself, and how I feel about my gender, has changed a lot over the years. I fall under that “T” umbrella from the LGBTQIA acronym (and B, and sort of A, as well, but those are stories for another article): I prefer they/them pronouns, I don’t identify wholly as a woman all the time (like I said – grey area), and I’ve worked very hard at unlearning a lot of the harmful transphobia (both internal, and from outward sources) that’s been part of our lives from day one.
Now that the really awkward personal stuff is out of the way, I want to write about the actual subject of this article: Restrooms. There has been, to put it delicately, a lot of controversy throughout the past year or so over whether or not the Big Scary Trans People are allowed to use the bathrooms they want to use (or at the very least, the bathrooms that are least likely to get them harassed, assaulted, and/or murdered). The most recent analysis estimates there are about 1.4 million people who identify as transgender in the United States, with a good majority of them being in the 18-24 (read: college age) range. Forty one percent of trans people have attempted suicide at least once in their lives – 574,000 people who have tried to end their lives before their time. Trans people, especially trans women are color, are more likely to be raped, assaulted, evicted, and harassed than nearly any other demographic of the general population.
“But why is this important?” you might be asking yourself. For a lot of people reading this, these are just numbers, or useless facts that do not and most likely will not impact your everyday lives. But for people like me, for my friends and my loved ones, this is a terrifying reality that we face. I’m fairly lucky, honestly – for all intents and purposes, most of the time I look like an average, if unconventional, cis woman. I don’t normally get harassed if I use the restroom in public places, but I’ve had friends who went into the bathroom they were “supposed to use”, and been verbally abused for it. Is that safe for them? Is it fair?
Most of the time, I use the women’s restroom: because it’s easy, because I have no other alternative, or because going into the men’s restroom is just not an option for me. I deal with it because I have to. But on the days that my dysphoria cripples me under a blanket self-loathing and despair, having to to use a public restroom is one of the most stressful parts of my day. I don’t feel safe, and it doesn’t feel right. But like I said, I’m lucky – I’m generally not masculine enough to pass for anything other than “cis woman”. I don’t have to worry the way a lot of trans men, women, and etc worry. The argument I see most is that “people want to keep their children safe from predators.” That “men” don’t belong in the same restroom as “women.” I’ve never seen a case of a trans woman attacking anyone in a restroom, but I have seen many instances where trans women have been attacked in public bathrooms, where actual predators have come into restrooms to assault, to maim, to murder.
So who’s the real predator here?
Sources, Because I’m a Badass Like That