A Simple but Civilized Solution to Public Restroom Usage

restroom multi gender sign

There is a parade of politicians coming out of the woodwork putting forth ridiculous proposals demanding that changes be made in how transgender people use public restrooms. When I first started seeing these stories in the news I had hoped that no one would take them seriously and that they would fade into obscurity where they belonged, but that has not happened.

They have instead been gaining in momentum or at least in number. In Kentucky the bill is targeted against transgender students, according to Huffpost. And in Texas and Florida those bills would apply everywhere, also as stated in Huffpost. There are provisions for civil and criminal penalties for transgender people, fines, criminal and civil liability for school administrators and business owners who let a transgender person use a bathroom different from their birth assigned sex, the Huffpost also stated. And people who report a transgender person in the bathroom can claim civil damages, i.e. collect a bounty. All of these were reported by Huffpost’s Brynn Tannehill.   

And while this is not a bill Russell D. Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention tackles California’s new law protecting the rights of transgender students, allowing them to freely use bathrooms or locker rooms they feel fits their gender identity.  He wrote a piece in the Washington Post’s On Faith where he made this known.  Moore emphasizes that Jesus tells us we are born male and female and the existence of transgender people who feel alienated from their identities as men or as women is simply the result of the fallen nature of our world, since we as humans are alienated from God  because of our sinfulness that we inherited from Adam. The proponents of these bills claim as the reason they want to stop transgender people from using the washrooms that correspond to their gender identity is that we are potential sexual predators who will use our claim to womanhood as a ruse to sexually prey on cisgender girls and women. They say that we are men and will act like the lowest class of men, the sexual predators who assault and rape females. This all is driven by fear and bigotry which is based on ignorance of the truth about transgender women. I want to say that I understand where they are coming from, but I disagree with the main premise of their argument and therefore with their solution to their perceived problem.

They are absolutely right, that it is cisgender men who prey on girls and women, but they are wrong in their assertion and assumption that transgender women/female identified, are the same as cisgender men and will therefore assault cisgender girls and women. I am a transgender woman/female identified, specifically transsexual woman and I know for a fact that a real transgender woman/female identified is in no way the same as a cisgender man. Yes we were in most cases, due to an unfortunate circumstance of birth, born with the same genitalia, but that does not make us cisgender men and given to behave toward cisgender women the way that cisgender men would who are inclined to violence toward women. Genitalia alone does not define what a person is rather what their birth sex is. Let me make something clear, we, transgender women/female identified, are just as likely to be victims of sexual assault at the hands of cisgender men as are cisgender women.  I have been sexually assaulted four times on four separate occasions by cisgender men, while I have never sexually assaulted anyone. The occurrences of the assaults that were perpetrated against me did not happen in public restrooms, but nevertheless they did occur and the perpetrators were all cisgender men.

I am not going to detail all of the incidences of sexual assault that I have endured, but I will tell you what happened the first time. I was 18, naïve and a virgin attending college at the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana. I was befriended by an upperclassman from my dormitory who took me out for drinks, got me drunk and after taking me home easily took advantage of me because I was intoxicated. That is all I will say about that. I lived in a state of denial after it happened and I walked around in a daze for some time after being violated because I felt disconnected from the world around me.  The others occurred much later in life at different times and under different circumstances. I never reported any of these assaults to the authorities out of shame and embarrassment, but I have shared my stories to a few people close to me.  I will also say this, never once was I ever sexually assaulted by a female cis or trans. It was always a cisgender male.

The fear that transgender women, who are female identified, are like cisgender men is mostly due to the misunderstanding that we, transgender women/female identified and cross dressers are one and the same. Let me say this, I have nothing against crossdressers, but nothing could be further from the truth. Crossdressers/transvestites are cisgender males there is nothing Trans about them. They are not transitioning or transcending anything except temporarily crossing the gender line when they cross dress. They identify as male and have no desire to medically change their bodies. Also unlike transgender women/female identified they, crossdressers, tend to usually be straight identified, that is they as men are attracted sexually to women and often, but not always, to both trans and cis women. I have been propositioned for sex by crossdressers, so I know what I am talking about. Transgender women often, but not always, tend to be sexually attracted to the opposite gender, men. A real transgender woman usually seeks to medically change her body to fit her gender identity unless there is a physical or financial reason that would prevent her from doing so and these medical procedures typically leave her with an inability to procreate and she cannot sustain an erection or once surgery is completed she no longer has any male genitals.  I speak from personal experience on this matter and this is not speculation on my part. She will go through all manner of legal hurdles to change her name and gender marker on her government ID and birth certificate. Accomplishing this requires more than simply filling out forms, but also going before the court to change IDs, paying all fees required, going through the medical steps to be legally addressed as female and having those steps verified in writing by doctors. I have done more than three years of hormone replacement therapy and had genital surgery. On top of these deeper changes I have made the appropriate outward changes. I have worked very hard to claim my womanhood, to redefine my realness, as Janet Mock said, so I dare anyone to attempt to deny me my right to use a public lady’s restroom. So my question to those who view us as a threat to cisgender women is, how can that possibly be?

I do not know of any incidences where a transgender woman/female identified has assaulted a cisgender woman in a public restroom and for that matter I don’t know of any crossdressers who have done that either. And knowing how some men behave it is the transgender women/female identified who would be most at risk to violence if they were forced to use men’s restrooms. I can understand the concern regarding crossdressers in the women’s restroom and I have a simple solution that I believe would make everyone happy and safe.

I propose that all public restrooms be converted to single use gender neutral facilities as soon as possible. It would of course require that every public accommodation invest in these upgrades, but it would solve the problem once and for all and would make both transgender women and cisgender women safe and the bigoted cisgender men happy.  Trying to keep legitimate transgender people out of the public restrooms that correspond to their gender identities is just plain wrong, harmful and dangerous. No wait, the bigots won’t be happy because we will still exist. Well, I guess you can’t please everyone.

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One Response to A Simple but Civilized Solution to Public Restroom Usage

  1. Suzi May 4, 2015 at 11:49 am

    The vast majority of the world is happy with single sex restrooms. When we suggest that they should be required to use and provide only unisex facilities, we come off a bit fascist, no?