Everywhere is Signs

I was terrified in 8th grade, completely scared. Rumors floated around that the high school we were about to enter was infested with a fairly nasty gang. These girls had supposedly slashed a guy’s face at Hot Wheels, the local roller rink (back when that was considered a cool hang out), and the word was that if you went to a particular bathroom, they’d mess you up.  These were not young ladies you ever wanted to cross.  The nightmares that summer were absolutely horrible.  I had spent 7th grade in bullying hell, had finally found my feet back in 8th grade, and had been coasting since no one was currently threatening me with, “if you ride the bus, I’ll kill you.” Now there was this new unknown threat lurking. A threat clearly no one would protect us from as they hadn’t in 7th grade..

Back then assault and battery were illegal and school officials were in every corner to make sure I was safe.

I knew walking in that first day I wouldn’t know which bathroom to avoid.  I knew I’d have to wing it, but the idea that I would one day choose wrong gnawed at me.  That’s the most I’ve ever been afraid of people in a bathroom in the last 34 years, and I’ve been in some fairly sketchy bathrooms.

Now I see our state officials feel they need to protect me.  They want to make it safe for me to go to the bathroom, a bathroom experience free of transgender people.  One said something along the lines of, “we need to protect our women.” Well club me over the head and drag me to your cave, hallelujah I feel safe knowing another law is coming my way and you’ve got my back.  Sexual predators will quake now that the sign that says “Women” or “W” or “Damas” means “gender at birth”. Nothing stops a predator faster in his tracks than a law.

I’ll be sure to scoff as I inform our trainer who taught Active Shooter training that he was wrong when he said, “don’t hide in the restroom,” because now I know those places are getting a lot safer. No one would dare cross that line now. If someone enters our building, I’m beelining it to the restroom.  I won’t even lock the door, because I know my state legislators are keeping me safe.

As a person who has several gay friends and a transgender acquaintance (which I realize smacks of the same cherubic idiocy as those who proclaim, “I have a black friend!”) I can tell you that in general the LGBT community is not filled with sexual predators bent on hurting you or your family.  They’re people who need to go to the bathroom just like the rest of the heterosexual world.  You may not like their lifestyle, but you don’t have to approve of it to urinate.

There are absolutely exceptions – not everyone means you no harm, but those exceptions occur on both sides, and a law or a sign is not going to protect you from someone who is intent on hurting you.  I guarantee you though if you force a transgender woman to use a men’s restroom, the chances of that person being harassed or assaulted will spike.

So, if we agree that we already have laws in place designed to prevent restroom attacks, then the only thing this must be about is discriminating against transgender people.  My guess is somewhere between the Wachowski sisters, Caitlynn Jenner, and the legalization of gay marriage across the country conservative legislators lost their mind and want to exert some measure of control.  Do something that says, “I still support family values.” That’s great.  There are other and better ways to do that and better ways to ensure people are safe.

You should absolutely be aware of your surroundings including those times when you’re in the restroom or in any secluded space, but transgender people are not today’s boogeyman out to attack you and your family.while you’re trying to find the cleanest stall.  These are people who feel their gender identity is the opposite of their assigned sex, and they just need to go to the bathroom.  Let’s be honest, think of how many you personally know – I can almost guarantee that’s more than the number of times you’ll run into a transgender person in a bathroom. So with that in mind, I think this whole thing rather ridiculous. Thank you lawmakers, but I don’t need your protection on this issue.

As a friend said, “keep your eyes on your own urinal.”


5 thoughts on “Everywhere is Signs

  1. People rarely notice a transgender person if everyone minds their own business. Public bathrooms are pretty much of a non issue i fpeople just calm down.(for example the porta-potties at the rodeo and almost any large event.
    The problem schools are facing with this mandate is that if the feds are justifying with Title IX ( equality between boys and girls with school course work, facilities, athletic funding) it will also mandate open to anyone showers, locker rooms, too. That’s a lot to ask of a bunch of kids – many of whom are shy or are those who love to torment and are always looking for a reason why. The behavior issues this will all cause in schools is endless. (Don’t get me started on the ugliness of and in a middle school bathroom – we had to remove the stall doors off in the boys’ not only to keep them from smoking and starting fires to burn down the school, but mainly because they were slamming kids heads into the toilets causing concussions as well as being in that nasty water. There are not enough teachers to control and protect…Especially now that girls are as strong and violent as the boys.) Get ready for more spite and get even videos by kids pretending to be trans this day or that. At one point a teacher or parent could tell a girl/boy if someone of the opposite sex was stalking/pestering/annoying them to go into the bathroom because they could not follow them in there. This is a real problem. Teachers cannot be everywhere and staff is limited in numbers.
    Here, the bathroom in the nurse’s office has always been a safe bathroom for any kid – no questions asked: shy, medical issues, can’t pee in front of others, religious reasons (And this may become an issue about universal bathrooms with diverse faiths and their thoughts about mixing with the other sex), the list is endless. That designated safe bathroom is one solution for schools that has functioned.
    The money the feds are threatening to pull funds most of the free lunch program. So jerking funding will hurt the poorest kids. Great. Local districts and state fund free breakfasts. Of course many teachers somehow manage to make sure no kid goes hungry.
    School Kids? Perhaps best to keep some single sex bathrooms in school. – that allows all to have their personal preferences/opinions/”most personal time”/beliefs without trampling/discriminating on others. Provide choice like with abortion. Schools are supposed to be under local control. Touchy situation.(and that’s what worries many parents). Bet the private schools are slammed with applications right now.
    City and public facilities are different – people have a choice and attendance isn’t mandatory.
    The main reason the open bathroom ordinance failed in Houston when presented for a vote was a passage the Mayor insisted on inserting that allowed anyone confronted in a bathroom and told to get out/they were in the wrong place could be sued in court and get awarded money damages as well as a city fine. People didn’t like that legal punishment aspect.
    Adults can just shut up, pee, and get out.
    As you say, too much politics and too many performances “for show” and too little commonsense.
    Great post. (sorry for the lengthy response but I just don’t know all those Twitter abbreviations)

    • Beth says:

      Completely agree and an excellent point about the schools. Thank you for dropping by and for taking the time to compose such a thoughtful response. School is rough enough as it is. I know in both our Jr. high and high school many kids would have benefited from being allowed to go in their own separate bathroom especially during gym for all sorts of reasons. The locker rooms presented their own nightmare for many – both girls and boys.

      • People really need to go back to thoughtful considerations with long term view and all possible consequences before jumping to action/knee jerk reactions.
        (Memories of locker rooms and showers – shiver, indeed.)

  2. hrhdeanne says:

    Excellent essay, Miss Beth!

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