I started college in 1978 – I went to The State University of New York at Buffalo & I lived at the Ellicott Complex in the Red Jacket Quad – if you’re into science fiction, this is the place for you. Anyway, I remember that there were two bathrooms on my floor – a men’s facility two doors from my room, which was at the very end of the hall right by the stairwell – a terrible location – & the women’s bathroom, which was all the way at the other end – really not a far walk BUT if you woke up in the middle of the night & had a wicked pee, it seemed like a really long way, so I used to pop into the men’s room – into a stall, out of a stall – & back to my room. Usually there was no one else in there or maybe someone was taking a middle-of-the-night shower. Not once did I pass a guy at the urinals although at that Janis Joplin stage of my life, it probably wouldn’t have bothered me.
The people it bothered were the MEN. The R.A. on my hall told me that the men had protested that I was using THEIR bathroom, & that I was to stop doing it, even though it was only once in a while & only in the middle of the night. Naturally I argued about it. I said that we were all adults & presumably polite adults & IF YOU GO INTO THE BATHROOM TO DO YOUR BUSINESS, THAT’S WHAT YOU DO. In & out. I couldn’t understand the problem then & I still don’t. I put forth the idea of unisex bathrooms but of course that was laughed off.
So these guys must have moved down to the Carolinas or something. Half of Buffalo & the rest of New York State migrated south, I know that. I read the paper & all these articles about “bathroom bills” & I have to think, really? In the twenty-first century, we’re still worried about the damn bathroom?
People frame it in different ways & it comes down to several different issues: protecting children. Protecting the sensitive feelings of others. Protecting people’s sense of privacy.
This morning, I read this: http://hudsonvalleynewsnetwork.com/2016/05/08/kingston-gym-transgender-spotlight/ & it got me to thinking. Take a minute to read it.
I live in Buffalo, NY, which is going through a “renaissance” of sorts … I’ve lived here many years & I’ve seen this before … but there’s lots of new construction going on & lots of old places being remodeled into newer, better places. One thing I have noticed is that many places – bars, restuarants – are going to a “unisex” bathroom idea. One big bathroom, with stall doors low enough to the floor that a person cannot peer underneath, & large wash areas with a common mirror & even a changing table that both fathers & mothers can access, since many men are now changing the diapers! The first place I saw do this was The Steer, at the end of my street, several years ago now. My idea from 1978-79. People used to tell me I was crazy & laugh at me but here we are.
& remember all the ERA nonsense? We couldn’t have an Equal Rights Amendment because of bathrooms?
Here we are in 2016 & the anti-women forces are still talking about bathrooms. & it IS the anti-women forces. Don’t be fooled by anything they say about protecting you or me or our children. It seems to Aunt Polly that whoever came up with these “bathroom bills” remembered how the ERA was derailed by bathroom issues very well. Here’s an article from Thinkprogress citing this very fact: http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2015/11/06/3719688/how-the-religious-right-learned-to-use-bathrooms-as-a-weapon-against-justice/
Anyone who knows me knows that I believe that you can’t turn a man into a woman by changing his body parts & you can’t turn a woman into a man & all that. I just don’t buy it & that’s the way it is. Call me a TERF, call me transphobic, call me anything the fuck you want – I really don’t care – I’ve heard worse. You have your beliefs & I have mine & I happen to have biology on my side. BUT on a practical level, there have been people like this all around us FOREVER & it’s about time we as a culture started growing up & dealing with our icky feelings about it. Not mine per se … Aunt Polly is always practical. & she knows that feelings come & feeling go. & it doesn’t matter how I FEEL about a person, I still have to treat that person with love & respect.
As for protecting children, ANY child any can get molested ANYWHERE by ANYONE of ANY GENDER. & usually it’s someone the child knows very well. A relative or a member of their church or someone at their school or a coach or a scout master or a neighbor. THAT’S THE SAD TRUTH & THE SOONER WE AS A CULTURE OWN THIS TRUTH WE WILL BE ABLE TO PROTECT OUR CHILDREN. But blaming transpeople for child molestation is totally ridiculous. I mean, has this ever actually happened? Really?
As for protecting the sensitive feelings of others, it seems that there’s WAY TOO MUCH of this lately. Grow the fuck up already! Stop FEELING so much & start THINKING. Read & learn & analyze. Get out of your own neighborhood & out of your car & take a walk. Put down the phone & open your eyes & your ears. STFU already! Listen to the world! When you’re feeling all the time, you can’t do anything else. & feelings change. Aunt Polly has kept a diary since the age of 10 & she is now soon to be 56 years of age & I can tell you that in those 55 years, her feelings have changed radically – up & down, back & forth, sometimes embarrassingly so! Feelings don’t really matter. It’s what you think & we as a culture seem to have forgotten all about THINKING.
About privacy. I do understand those issues, in fact, this is why Aunt Polly doesn’t join a gym herself. I don’t want to get sweaty & then shower with anyone – women, men, trans – it doesn’t matter to me – I want to be alone. & honestly, if I was somewhere where I wanted to be private & I saw a man’s penis, I might just have to get angry about that. I think I probably would. Men have been showing me their dicks since I was a little girl & I really don’t want to see them anymore. Put those things away! Nobody cares about your precious members! Get over yourselves already!
The aforementioned article gave me hope that people can work out this idiotic bathroom issue – of course the bathrooms mentioned were in the Hudson Valley area of New York State as opposed to North Carolina or Tennessee or one of the other Bible belt states. However, it doesn’t matter where you live. There are idiots everywhere. & there are people who are willing to try to work things out. Which one are you? I know who I am.