Let’s Talk: Racism

And once again, dear reader, we find ourselves in the aftermath of a tragic event that creates more offense and bigotry than positive social change. And once again, I find myself having to write about something that should, in my opinion, be rather cut-and-dry.

But, before we get into it here, can we please take a moment to reflect and ask ourselves, “When is this nonsense going to stop?” In the span of the last 60 days, we’ve seen a hate crime and act of terror against the LGBT community in which 103 were injured and 49 were killed. We’ve seen not one, but two deaths of black men at the hands of members of law enforcement, both cases being tantamount to murder. We’ve seen 11 police officers injured, 5 killed by sniper fire in an act of revenge. And yet, America seems too content to ignore the facts: that undercurrents of racism and homophobia permeate society to this day, resulting in horrific acts of violence  being perpetrated out of feelings of fear and ignorance, and being allowed to happen due to outrageously ineffectual and laughably loose gun control laws.

But I don’t want to focus on gun control or homophobia today. No, today, I need to talk about the problem of institutional racism in our modern society. Specifically, #BlackLivesMatter vs. #AllLivesMatter.

And honestly, dear reader, I didn’t think this was an article I’d have to write. I assumed that most Americans would understand the meaning behind the Black Lives Matter movement. And yet, I’ve been noticing a disturbing trend of white Americans responding to “Black lives matter!” with the phrase “Well, all lives matter.” Which means that many people, if not most, are indeed missing the point. To rebut with “All lives matter” is minimizing, offensive, and the argumentative equivalent of a government coverup. And if you honestly can’t see that, then we need to dig deeper.

Black Lives Matter is a socio-political movement that was born out of the issue of systemic police brutality toward the black community. The Black Lives Matter movement was founded in the summer of 2013 after the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who fatally shot Trayvon Martin in Florida. Founded by community organizers Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, Black Lives Matter, or BLM,  claims inspiration from such social activist movements as the African-American Civil Rights Movement, the LGBTQ Social Movement, and the Black Power movement, among others.

In the beginning, BLM operated mostly digitally, sticking to a system of hashtag activism. Since then, the Black Lives Matter movement has held rallies and protests, and prefers to engage in direct action tactics, making people uncomfortable enough that the issue must be addressed.

Behind it all, the BLM philosophy is to advocate for dignity, justice, and respect for all black lives through an end to violence, not escalation.

Statistics show that black americans are disproportionately targeted in cases of police brutality and violence at the hands of the criminal justice system. And this is why the Black Lives Matter movement is necessary, and why saying All Lives Matter is so upsetting.

The very concept of All Lives Matter exists out of yet another false dichotomy. One that supposes that to support Black Lives Matter is to be anti-white or anti-cop. But that simply isn’t true. Because there is no invisible “only”. No one is arguing that Black Lives are the only lives that matter. Of course all lives matter. Of course they do. Everyone knows that, and to suggest otherwise is just stupid and practically slander. What we are saying is that black lives are the ones that are being taken right now; black civil rights are the ones being infringed right now, and we need to call that to attention, so as to fix this horrifying situation for the betterment of our society as a whole.

Still having a hard time getting it? Alright. Let me put it another way. To paraphrase Reddit user GeekAesthete, “Imagine that you’re sitting down to dinner with your family, and while everyone else gets a serving of the meal, you don’t get any. So you say ‘I should get my fair share.’ And as a direct response, your dad corrects you, saying, ‘everyone should get their fair share.’ … However, dad’s smart-ass comment just dismissed you and didn’t solve … that you still haven’t gotten any!” (Please click the link above to read the full comment. It’s a great point.)

“All Lives Matter” is a broom meant to sweep the unpleasantness of systemic racism under the rug so that others can ignore the problem. Because to say “All Lives Matter” is to insinuate that all lives are equally at risk. And of course they are not. I want you to do a little critical thinking experiment, dear reader. Just bear with me. Close your eyes, and think about how many white americans you can recall being shot without cause by police officers in the last two years. Can you think of just one? By name? Because I cannot. And if you can, did the media treat the victim as at-fault?

The reason I ask you to do this is because in the past two years – since the riots in Ferguson, Missouri – over 15% of all fatalities at the hands of police were black men. That’s 5 times higher than the the numbers of white men of the same age, and african americans only make up 2% of the population. These deaths include many names that I remember: Tamir Rice, Eric Courtney Harris, Walter Scott, Jonathan Ferrell, Sandra Bland, Samuel DuBose, Freddie Gray, Philando Castille, and Alton Sterling. Please, pause here for a moment and say their names out loud to yourself, if you haven’t before. Really soak in how many names you’re speaking out loud to yourself. Is the sheer number of names not upsetting?

If you didn’t understand before, do you understand now, dear reader? Of course all lives matter. But right now, we need to focus on the the black lives that are being taken away. Because that what societies do: they improve all things for all members.

But is that all to the argument? Is there more to the movement? Of course there is, dear reader. But honestly, this is all I feel safe saying about the movement, as I am a white transgender woman, and can not even begin to truly understand the struggles faced by the black community. And my experience as a minority allows me to empathize with the black community but, as I am not black, I can never understand their unique struggles. And I would never claim to.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t do everything I can to show support. And regardless of race, we should all show support. Because we are all members of the same community, and if it has failed one of us, it has failed us all. After all, if all lives really do matter, are not Black Lives part of the “all”?

Let’s Talk: Pride

Oh man, oh gosh, oh boy. This is a contentious debate and yet again, I find myself having feelings that are so complicated for an issue that is so simple. Let’s begin.

The internet is up in arms today over #HeterosexualPrideDay with fighters on both sides. Many are saying that we should be “all inclusive” and “of course straight people should have pride”. But many others, myself included, find this downright…uncomfortable. Some find it straight up offensive, but at the very least, I think it might be inappropriate. If this opinion bothers you, I apologize. But if you’re willing to hear me out on this one, read on, dear reader, read on.

The problem of Straight Pride vs. Gay Pride is a complicatedly cut-and-dry issue. Sound frustrating? It definitely is. But in order to understand why straight pride is unnecessary -and for many people- upsetting, we need to understand why LGBT Pride is a thing in the first place. And that takes us back to the Stonewall Inn, 1969.

In the wee morning hours of 1:20 AM, June 28th, 1969, four policemen in suits, two officers in uniform, a detective, and a deputy inspector entered the Stonewall Inn of Greenwich Village, Manhattan and shouted, “Police! We’re taking the place!”

This was not an unusual scene for the liberal neighborhood of Greenwich Village, or even the Stonewall itself. Raids on gay bars were very common, usually happening about once a month. However, what occurred this night was not as common, as many of us now know.

The standard procedure in the area was was to bribe the police, and then receive warning of a raid hours and sometimes days beforehand. However, the Stonewall was not expecting this raid, as A) they had been raided the Tuesday prior, and B) raids typically happened earlier in the evening between 9 – 11 PM. As such, when police entered, they  were confronted by approximately 250 patrons, mostly gay men, who were caught off guard and confused.

As police entered the establishment, the Public Morals Squad – who had been on standby outside – received the signal to move in and join the officers inside. Very quickly, standard procedure took over and the male patrons were told to line up in orderly lines and present valid identification, while those presenting female were taken into the restroom by a female officer to inspect their genitals. Anyone who was described as a “man in women’s clothes” was arrested and detained outside to await a patrol wagon. Alcohol that was unlabeled and unstamped was seized as assumed bootlegged.

Outside, as patrons were being released and escorted out of the building, a crowd was gathering. While the crowd mostly consisted of those being released, neighbors and passersby were gathering as well. Within minutes the crowd had grown to within 100 to 150 people.

Inside, the situation began to deteriorate. Transgender women being arrested were refusing to go with police and those in line were refusing to present identification. A sense of discomfort and fear spread very quickly as police grew increasingly hostile, including some officers who proceeded to grope and violate the lesbian patrons as they were frisked.

After waiting about fifteen minutes, the patrol wagons began appearing to take the confiscated alcohol and arrested, employees and patrons alike. As police began escorting those arrested from the building to the wagons, the crowd began to turn restless. Police lines had formed to keep the crowd in line, but the crowd was pushing back. As officers led a lesbian woman, described as a “typical New York butch”, to the patrol wagons, she began to plead with the crowd. She had been beaten over the head with a night stick for “complaining that the handcuffs were too tight” and was being violently shoved toward the wagon. “Why don’t you guys do something!?”

And do something they did. As police began to restrain the crowd, the crowd began jeering and pushing back. Within the crowd someone shouted, “It’s because they weren’t paid off!” To which a response was shouted back, “Let’s pay them off then!” And the crowd began throwing coins at the officers. Coins turned to beer bottles. Beer bottles turned to bricks from a nearby construction site. And the violence raged until near 4:00 AM.

And yet, this wasn’t a coordinated or organized effort. It was a spontaneous rebellion; an uprising. The LGBT community had finally had enough. After years of being labeled un-American and perverts. After years of being documented and spied on by the FBI and even the USPS. Finally, it had all come to a head this one night, in this one place.

In the aftermath of Stonewall, the Gay Liberation Movement was born. LGBT groups had exploded from a few hundred across the country to more than twenty-five hundred by 1971. On June 28th, 1970, the first pride parades were held in New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago to commemorate the Stonewall Riots. By June 28th, 1972, Boston, Dallas, Milwaukee, London, Paris, West Berlin, Stockholm, Atlanta, Buffalo, Detroit, Washington D.C., Miami, Minneapolis, and Philadelphia, as well as San Francisco had joined in the annual commemoration event. The LGBT movement was mobilizing.

Since then, the LGBT Civil Rights Movement has made great strides. Most recently, in 2016, President Barack Obama named June as national LGBT Pride Month and commemorated a memorial at the site of the Stonewall riots.

This is why LGBT Pride is important, and the notion that straight people deserve a pride parade as well is…troubling. Because, that very much means that they have missed the point entirely. See, Pride is not a festival. It’s not Mardi Gras for queers. Pride is an event to memorialize those we have lost for the cause. To remind us that the fight is not over. To reflect on where we came from and how far we’ve come. To look ahead at how far we have yet to go and to mobilize towards that goal.

This past week, I was blessed with the opportunity of witnessing Pride weekend in Seattle. And while it was beautiful and freeing to see so many people celebrate love, integrity, individuality, and self-expression, it was also sad to see how many “tourists” turned out to ogle those in facepaint and rainbow suspenders. Or those who turned out for the purpose of buying merchandise and street food. Too many people showed up with the expectation that pride was just a spectacle, a festival, devoid of deep meaning and simply a summertime celebration.

And that is false. You’d like a straight pride? Why? Sell me on the idea. Convince me that you need one. Because that’s what we had to do. We had to fight and bleed for ours. We had to cry and, indeed, die for ours. We have suffered police brutality, and murder. We have suffered homelessness and mass shootings. We have to hear praise for our suffering and legislation that dehumanizes us.

When heterosexuals are afraid to walk the streets holding hands with their loved ones, or when straight people have to live in fear of being beaten or killed for being themselves, then you can – and should – have a pride celebration. But as it stands, you are not being shamed or denied basic rights on a daily basis. You are not oppressed. You already have a pride. You have every day to be accepted and proud.

And I am not saying that straight people shouldn’t be proud. Everyone should be proud of who they are. It’s important. But Straight Pride as an event doesn’t need to exist. Gay Pride exists to remember our struggles and celebrate our victories, because of and over those that oppress us respectively. A Straight Pride event just serves to diminish that fact and once again push us back into the shadows. And I for one am unwilling to give up the light of day.

“Gay Pride was not formed out of a need to celebrate being gay but instead our right to exist without prosecution… So instead of wondering why there isn’t a straight pride month or movement, straight people should just be thankful they don’t need one.” -LZ Ganderson

Let’s Talk: Religious Freedom

“Religious Freedom.” It’s a buzz phrase. We hear it a lot in political arguments about all kinds of things: the death penalty, abortion, LGBT rights, etc. But when we use religious freedom as a defense, we need to make sure we’re using it correctly. And in order to do that, we need to really understand what ‘religious freedom’ actually is.

So where does religious freedom come from? Well, when America was being formed, there were a lot of pretty radical ideas going around. One of which was the freedom to practice whatever religion one might choose without persecution. Today, this doesn’t seem so radical. And it shouldn’t! It is important to have faith! And it is more important to be free to practice one’s faith unimpeded. But there is a large difference when it comes to being free to practice your faith without persecution, versus using your faith as a crutch to persecute others.

Let me explain what I mean, and I’m going to use an analogy that hits pretty close to home for me: civil rights for LGBT Americans. Let’s say a young trans girl wants to use the girls’ restroom at her school. She’s in 6th grade, struggling to accept herself (as we all do at that age), and all she wants is to be able to pee in peace like the other girls. But instead, the school tells her that she has to use a different restroom because a group of parents sent a letter to the school complaining about a ‘violation of their religious freedom’. What exactly do the parents mean by this? Violating their religious freedom? But this little girl isn’t doing anything to bother you at all! “Nonsense!” they say. “The school is forcing our young Christian daughters to be in the presence of sin and a sinner! This violates our religious freedom!”

But I have to ask these parents, “What freedom do you think is being encroached here?” Because no one is forcing these parents, or their children for that matter, to accept this young trans girl. You are still free to think she’s a sinner. What you are not free to do, however, is deny her the right to be treated like a basic human being. Because religious freedom is the right to practice your faith without persecution. It is not the right to persecute others based on your faith.

Because – and this is the important nugget here – your beliefs do not matter outside of you. And I know that this might sound very insensitive. Dismissive, even. But believe me when I say that couldn’t be further from the truth. I respect all people’s beliefs. Even the ones I don’t agree with. Especially the ones I don’t agree with. To me, religion, faith, they’re both very personal things. And finding them is a journey that everyone must go through. Some people find them in religion, others find them in science and logic (like myself). Some people find them in both, or neither. But everyone has a faith system in some capacity. And they are all valid. They all help us as people.

And I understand that when you find something that works for you, you get excited and you want other people to feel the way you do, so you share your beliefs. But in the end, it’s all personal. And just as you have the right to practice your faith, I have the right to not practice it. Or the right to practice something else.

Is this a personal attack on you? Of course not. But if you want the world to be tolerant of you and the things you hold dear, you have to be willing to shell out some tolerance in turn. You don’t have to agree with those opposing beliefs. Hell, I personally don’t think you even need to entertain the notion. But you have to let them be free to practice what they believe too. Because religious freedom is a two-way street.

“Whoah there, Dany. You’re getting off track.” You’re right, dear reader. I apologize. It’s just that I get so very worked up over the issue of freedom of religion! But you’re right, let’s get back to it.

So, what about that little trans girl who just wants to pee? What should we do for her?

Well, I’d like to perform a little experiment. And this could get pretty…upsetting, but I need you to bear with me, dear reader. Let’s reread the story above, except replace “trans girl” with “black girl” and all the mentions of her being a “sinner” to her being “inferior”. Go on, I’ll wait.

Wow. Pretty offensive, no? Sounds like a scene out of an eye-opening docudrama set in the 1960s, right? Well, bingo.

The same tactics being employed against LBGT americans are the ones that were used against african-americans during the Civil Rights movement. And now, looking back, it seems absurd that white people wanted to be segregated because they thought they were somehow superior. Religious freedom was a pretty common defense in the Civil Right movement, in fact!

But nowadays, if someone tried to stop an african-american from using the bathroom because it “violated their religious freedom”, we’d tell them to “cut the shit” and label them a racist. Because that seems absurd to us. Just because someone looks different doesn’t mean they should have to be heckled when they want to pee. Black people deserve rights! Black lives matter!

And of course they do! But so do queer lives. And all lives. Everyone matters!

Because, in the end, we can’t claim “freedom and rights for all” and then deny those things to specific groups. If you have religious freedom to think I’m a sinner, then I have religious freedom to think you’re wrong. But I can’t force you to believe otherwise, and you can’t force me to pee somewhere else.

*Man, this took me so long to write. I spent like 3 weeks trying to get this one written, ’cause I kept getting so worked up and didn’t know what direction to take or how to reach the destination I wanted. I apologize if this one is a bit shorter than usual.

Let’s Talk: Dysphoria

So, before I begin, I need to make a confession: This is going to be a very emotionally charged post. I wanted to post this days ago, but I’ve been so depressed and feeling awful that I’ve been having trouble getting these words on the page through the tears. But I digress…

Today, I want to talk about gender dysphoria. What it is, and why it’s a serious problem. Now, I need to preface this by saying that dysphoria is an incredibly painful and personal experience. It differs from person to person, in varying degrees of severity. The experiences listed herein are mine and mine alone. It is also important to note that not every trans person experiences dysphoria, nor is the feeling of dysphoria required for being trans.

So let’s start with what dysphoria is. Gender dysphoria is the feeling of discomfort or distress caused by one’s gender identity being misaligned with one’s biological sex. In layman’s terms, “I’m a girl and should have a vagina, but I have a penis and it really upsets me.” Gender dysphoria is NOT a mental illness or disorder. It has been medically recognized as a real condition and the definition has been changed in the Diagnostic Standards Manual (version V). Gender dysphoria should never be confused with Body Dysmorphia, which “is an anxiety disorder that causes sufferers to spend a lot of time worrying about their appearance and to have a distorted view of how they look.”

Gender dysphoria can have many different triggers, and those triggers can change over time. Certain things can be more triggering than others. Allow me to explain my point by using myself.

I am a trans woman. I was assigned male at birth, meaning I was born with a penis. Before recently, I never had much issue with my penis. It was there, but it wasn’t bothersome. But recently, I’ve started disliking it more and more, and I’d like to see it go, I think. But the dysphoria triggered by my genital situation is nothing compared to some of my other triggers. For instance, my breasts (or lack thereof). When I look at myself in the mirror, I expect to see breasts. Well proportioned and shapely I would hope. Due to my height and weight, something close to a C or D cup would be a proper size. But as of this blog post, they are currently only an A cup. Barely noticeable. It causes an extreme amount of distress.

Another couple of triggers for me are facial hair shadow and my voice. Seeing beard shadow makes me incredibly uncomfortable. And putting on makeup is a torturous ordeal, because I have to stare at my face for upwards of 30-45 minutes every day as I try to conceal what it is I’m forced to stare at. And listening to my voice causes extreme distress as well. So much so, that I frequently don’t speak if I don’t have to, or I’ll just whisper. I can’t bear to sing in front of people (and rather hate it when I’m alone as well). Which is awful, because I love singing, but I can’t bear to hear myself do it.

Even the act of feeling dysphoria can be it’s own trigger, as odd as that sounds. Because all I want in life is to be a normal girl. But normal girls don’t have dysphoria attacks.

And there are many more triggers for myself as well. My shoulders are too broad, my face too angular, my hair isn’t long enough, my arms are too muscley, my feet are too big, I’m not skinny enough. All these things are things I think every time I pass a mirror. Some days, I’m able to ignore these thoughts. Some days, however…. Some days I can’t stop crying. I admit, yesterday and today have been two of those days.

“But these are all things that can be fixed, right?” I’m touched by your concern, dear readers, and yes. I suppose they are. Most of those things will be taken care of over time alone, due to my hormone therapy. My hair will get longer, my feet have actually started shrinking. My muscle mass will atrophy and shrink, resulting in smaller arms and shoulders. But some things take more than just time. Beard shadow requires laser hair removal at best (a $3000-$5000 process over 18 months), and electrolysis ($10,000-$20,000 process over years) at worst. My breasts may require breast augmentation, which can be an expensive and scary process as well. And in the meantime, I am suffering.

Most times, dysphoria is accompanied with depression, which is a real and serious condition. For some people, that depression can become so unbearable, suicide becomes an enticing “solution”.

And while these may be my particular triggers and experiences, many trans people across the world suffer from the same distress. And the ramifications of this distress can be severe. Trans people from the ages of 18-44 have a 45% suicide rate. And the number increases to between 50 and 60 percent for the ages of 14-18 depending on the study. Let that sink in for one moment. Approximately half of all transgender children and young adults are killing themselves.

And yet many people in today’s society treat us like outcasts or jokes. Or worse, perverts and freaks. And it can hurt. It can undo years of therapy and self-management.

I’d like to share a story with you, to illustrate this point. This past Saturday night, two co-workers and a friend came into where I work, very drunk and proceeded to be loud and boisterous. At 3AM, I asked them to leave, as we were closing. One of them (the friend, not a coworker) made a joke about my genitals (my penis). 3 times. Now, my genitals are already a source of discomfort, and being out in public as a female already causes a certain amount of anxiety. But this was a blatant act of misgendering and harassment. In that one moment, my self-confidence was torn asunder. My already fragile self-esteem, shattered. I felt violated and unvalidated. This one person has nearly undone 2 years of therapy and self-management that I have worked so very hard to accomplish.

“That’s awful!” Yes, dear reader, it is. I’m glad you agree. But there are ways to manage gender dysphoria. The first and foremost thing that can be done is to accept it. If you experience dysphoria, it’s important to know that there is nothing wrong with you! And if someone with dysphoria comes to you, it is important to validate them and recognize their struggle. Use a new name or pronouns if they ask you to.

Second, there are ways to manage your discomfort. Find out what your triggers are and experiment with ways to keep them under control. Breastforms and wigs are helpful tools. I use both every single day to help manage my dysphoria while I transition. New names and pronouns can offer a lot of relief as well.

Third, when it becomes unbearable, it’s okay to cry. Cry a lot. Let it out. Do something that makes you happy. Read a book, listen to music. Have a glass of wine (though, don’t over do it.) For me, I cry a lot and drown my sorrows in coffee and wine, like a true Seattleite.

Fourth, if you begin feeling suicidal, take a moment to breathe and call Trans Lifeline. They are a suicide hotline for trans people, by trans people. There are real trans folks on the other end to help, so they understand what you’re feeling. Don’t hesitate; just call. And for any cisgender allies, donate to Trans Lifeline on their website to keep it active. If a friend comes to you with suicidal feelings, point them that way and make sure they know they are loved. Do whatever, just to stay alive.

And last, but not least, remember that it does get better. It definitely won’t feel like it at the time, but it will. Because there is a truth, and it’s on our side: Dawn is coming. You just need to open your eyes and look into the sun, at the new day’s rise.

“Stay Alive” – José González

Let’s Talk: Bathrooms

Okay. So, I have a few topics that I really want to talk about. I have some strong feelings that I want to voice, in the hopes that maybe someone might understand. These topics aren’t really related, so over the next two or three days (or just today if I get really fired up), I’m going to post about various topics in my “Let’s Talk” series. Today’s topic is bathrooms.

So, there’s been a lot of talk in the news about trans* people, bathrooms, legislation, rape, and trans panic. And I’ve been seeing a lot of misinformation running around, incomplete information, and suggested solutions that aren’t really solutions at all, and I wanna voice some opinions and concerns on this.

So I suppose the logical place to start is some definitions to make sure we’re all on the same page. Let’s start with transgender people and trans panic.

A transgender person (not ‘a transgender’, ‘transgendered’, or ‘tranny’) is someone who’s gender identity does not match the gender assigned to them by birth due to the assumptions made by society by the genitals of infants. I’ll clarify. When a child is born, they are given one of two designations (and very rarely, a third). If you have a penis, you’re a boy (male). If you have a vagina, you’re a girl (female). If you have an uncommon lack or combination of both you are intersex, and most medical professionals will make a decision for you, followed by and operation on your genitals to “normalize” you, and the hope that you don’t grow up to feel different.

As a transgender woman, I was assigned male at birth (a penis-bearer), but I identify, feel, and live as a female. Who or what determines my gender identity? I do. Not the ‘secret bits’ between my legs, but the unseen bits between my ears. My feelings and thoughts determine it. Is it a choice? It sure isn’t. I’ve felt this way as long as I can remember, even when I didn’t have the words to describe it. There is no way I can truly make you understand. It’s something you have to experience to fully grasp.

And that’s where the problem lies. Unless you’re trans, you can’t understand how we feel or why. And that unknown is scary to many people. This is the root of trans panic. For many people, the very concept of a “man who wants to be a woman” is a disgusting and confusing thought. But therein lies the disconnect. I am not a man who wants to be a woman. I am a woman who just wants to be myself. End of story. I understand that’s a confusing thought. But you need to trust that what I’m saying and feeling is legitimate, and not a made up choice.

Fair enough, but we need to get to the point. I can feel many of you, dear readers, asking, “Okay, but what about bathrooms?” Good idea. What about bathrooms?

So, what’s the controversy? Cause the situation feels very muddled. Most of the arguments are about transwomen in the ladies’ room. (Note that no one seems too troubled about have a transman in the men’s room. It’s mostly about protecting the women.) People seems to be very worried that having a transwoman in the ladies’ room presents a real and present danger to women and children. Why? I’ve heard a few arguments about seeing a penis in the women’s’ room, but those are few and far between. No, in fact, most arguments follow a different rhetoric. “Without a law, any paedophile or rapist could throw on a skirt, walk in to the womens’ room and just rape people without recourse!”

First, no. Second, also no. And third, have you heard yourself? This logic makes literally no sense.

First off, without these laws, any paedophile or rapist could walk in to a women’s’ room and rape people anyway! But you know what? Rape and molestation is still illegal, bathroom bill or not. And the fact that this is the argument means you’re not actually worried about transwomen at all. You’re worried about cisgendered, perverted men having a new excuse to rape. And that’s an understandable fear. I get that. As a transwoman (and fellow woman) I am pretty darn worried about rape myself. Believe it. But we need to understand where this fear comes from: rape culture!

If rape is the real fear here, then we need to start a dialogue about rape! Go figure! We need to start talking about why rape is such a pervasive fear that we feel willing – nay, entitled to restrict the basic human rights of an already underprivileged and victimized demographic to feel slightly safer. Because we’re not afraid of transwomen raping anyone. Fun fact: there have been precisely ZERO documented cases of transwomen assaulting, raping, or molesting anyone in the ladies’ room. But there have been many cases of men raping women or children in either bathroom. (Many which happen to be conservative Republicans. Funny, that.) In fact, I went through the effort of doing some research on statistics. 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys are the victims of sexual abuse, and out of those, 3 in 4 were assaulted by someone they knew! Not a random stranger in the restroom. Certainly not a transwoman, but a family friend or family member.

And, I’d also like to take a moment to point out that transgender people have been around for a long, long time. Pretty much since humanity has existed in all of its wonderful diversity, transgender has been one of those flavors. Transgender people have been Roman Emperors, holy mystics, and common people. We are everywhere. So what bathrooms do you think we’ve been using until the last three or so years? And even still, we haven’t raped anyone. Kinda makes you think…

Secondly, if you’re worried about some sort of indecent exposure, that’s not really going to happen. First of all, I’ve been in a few ladies’ rooms (you know, cause I’m a lady) and so far, they have all been equipped with private stalls with doors that lock and all that. Contrary to what might be public opinion, we transwomen sit to pee. So we use those stalls. We close and lock those doors. We quietly do what we came in to do, and then we wash our hands and leave, because inside, most of us are panicking about it. (Well, I am at least.) Believe me. No one is going to expose themselves to you. Hell, we hate exposing ourselves to, well, ourselves. We don’t want to see that, and we certainly don’t want anyone else to see that. (Of course, this is how I feel. Not every transwoman is ashamed or uncomfortable with their body, but regardless, we all know common decency, and no one is going to expose themselves.)

“Okay, but everyone deserves to feel comfortable. What about adding a third bathroom option, like unisex or single use bathrooms?” Admit it. A few of you were asking, weren’t you dear readers? Well, let’s talk about this “solution” real fast.

The first thing you need to understand about transgender people is that most of us – not all of us – but most of us, suffer from something known as gender dysphoria. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail on this here, because it’s going to get its own Let’s Talk post, but in short, dysphoria is a feeling of discomfort that stems from the incongruence or disconnect between one’s biological sex and self-assigned gender identity. Basically, “I feel like I should have boobs, but I don’t have boobs and it makes me sad.” It can be mild, or it can be horrifically severe. It can happen at any time, no matter what. For instance, I’m currently suffering a severe attack of dysphoria as I write this.

But one of the things about dysphoria is that no one enjoys it. In fact, most people actively try to find a way to avoid dysphoria. Because all we want is to be “normal”. I just want to be a “normal” woman, and normal women don’t have attacks of gender dysphoria. Anything that reminds me I’m different makes me feel worse, and if it’s something publicly visible, whether realized or not, the feeling is worsened exponentially. Being forced to use your own separate bathroom is, in essence, a publicly visible walk of shame, reminding us that we are different from other women. It seems like a nice compromise from the eyes of a cisgender person, but to a transgender person, that is unacceptable. We deserve all the same basic rights and protections that are extended to our cisgender counterparts.

Now, there are a lot of other arguments I could bring up. Transwomen in the men’s room is more dangerous to transwomen than transwomen in the ladies’ room, etc. But I don’t need to harp all the same arguments being made. I’ve already retreaded some information in this post. But what I hope to accomplish with this is helping people understand where their fears really lie, and shifting the conversation to one that will actually help all people, instead of further marginalizing one group.

As always, thank you for reading, and if you liked this read, please let me know in the comments. Also, if there’s anything you’re confused about or feel that I left out, please leave a comment. Or contact me using the form on my contact page.