Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Where to Go

No, not what you're thinking. This isn't more of me whining, it relates to me but in a more general way that it relates to all my brothers and sisters on this road.

On Facebook there's an application called "Honesty Box." I'm usually not impressed with all the crap that wants to bait you on Facebook but I was intrigued by the concept of giving people an chance to anonymously comment and it was an easy choice to ask "What do you really think of me?" in a setting where the reply was totally honest because the speaker had no fear of being identified. As you might expect, people can be a bit more nasty when they are in that setting.

I only got two responses, but, ditzy me, I never paid any attention to them until just a couple of days ago (they were posted in March). One of them touched on a subject that is probably one of the biggest worries a trans person, particularly a M2F, worries about - the dreaded bathroom question.

Then, yesterday I read an ongoing discussion in one of my Yahoo groups on the same subject and there were some compelling points raised. So the combination of all this mixing around in my brain had to go somewhere so, well, that's what this place is for.

My anonymous "friend"(whom I suspect was one of the few people who lectured me on how I was going to hell back in the early part of the year) remarked that she'd heard about my "stunt" of going in the ladies room and if she ever saw me do that she'd call the cops on me. That of course, is the thing that all of us are most afraid will happen. I've had one incident where the owner of a business confronted me and ask me if I was a woman and I didn't have the courage to dare her to prove me wrong. Pretty much specifically because I figured her next move would be to call the cops. Turns out I'd been clocked by a kid (so this lady said) on a previous visit.

Many, many, many other times I've visited the ladies room without incident, at least half those times passing by other women in there without any controversy at all. This is the #1 best indicator that you are passing because if you are going to be challenged anywhere, it's there - but it's also the place where the confidence that is so vital to passing is most likely to slip because of the sheer panic going on inside your head when you enter and find the room occupied. I do make a point of using the ones less likely to be occupied, I make note of any place where there's a one-seater which gives you leave to lock the door, I make a point of waiting if I've seen a child go in. but sometimes you are already committed (maybe you enter when it's empty and then mom brings her little girl in as you are leaving (which is how the kid I mentioned above happened to cross paths with me). And obviously, on those occasions when I'm "dressed down" while with my wife, I grit my teeth and use the men's if I just HAVE to go because in this town enough people know me that the odds are just to high against me.

I don't do these things because I think I don't belong there, I do it to minimize the chance of an ugly confrontation. Because there's a pretty big gap between what's logical on this subject and people's emotional reactions. But the truth is, the sensitivity on the subject (which, by the way, is the single biggest weapon used against trans people when laws are proposed to protect us from discrimination) is not at all rational.

The first way to really stop and analyze the subject is to focus on what the panic is about. Let's state the obvious:

1. NO ONE is worried about F2M transgenders in the men's room. the cis-gendered (i.e. born male and still male, for those who don't know what the "cis-" prefix means) man is not concerned if the person in the next stall doesn't actually have a penis.

2. No sensible person can be worried about the post-op transsexual (either F2M or M2F) in the room appropriate for their post-operative plumbing. You really can't because there's no practical way to prove on the spot whether this woman before you was born female or not. She has all the right parts, if you dare to challenge her you look like a fool. Perhaps the most bitchy among us might know for a fact who this woman was before her transition and complain, but such a complaint wouldn't stand because you can't reasonably expect the post-op woman to go to the men's room.

So what we are really speaking of her is pre-operative M2F transsexuals. The dreaded "penis in the powder room."

There are several false assumptions behind this worry. All of them obviously play to the worry either of sexual assault, or of "peeping." But to be worried about these things involves some assumptions for which there is no evidence. Some of them insulting even.

First, it assumes that transgenders have any more risk of being sexually abusive than the general population - the usual knee-jerk "all pervs are just alike" thinking. This despite the fact that there is no publicized case on record of a transgender person committing any sort of sexual assault (either physical or verbal or visual) in a restroom. In fact, where there has been assault, it has been when a M2F was forced to use a mens room and was assaulted. there are thousands and thousands of us across the country and the charge has never been brought.

Second, it assumes that there is in fact a sexual interest. Many M2F are not oriented towards females (estimates suggest at least 30-40% of those who have transitioned are not), beyond that, the VAST majority of in-transition M2F are on HRT which means that there sex drive is almost nil and after several months the ability to achieve an erection, unless regularly exercised, is no longer present. So the reality is that almost none of these women could even theoretically have any sexual interest in the person in the next stall.

If that's not enough, having a sexual interest doesn't imply a willingness to be abusive or insensitive with that interest. Tell the truth - how many of you women out there ever wonder if that other woman in your restroom is a lesbian? how many of you wonder if some aggressive lesbian will assault you while you are trying to pee? How many men are uncomfortable with a gay male in the same restroom with them? And if you are that paranoid, what do you suggest? Gay men use the ladies and lesbians use the mens? No. Even if they do make you uncomfortable you MUST simply deal with the fact that the technical possibility exist that you might share a restroom with a person who is sexually oriented towards your gender.

So what?

Of course one can't discuss this without mentioning the scare-tactic that if it were allowed, some perverted non-trans guy would put on women's clothes just to get the chance to get into the ladies room. Except of course that this never happens or, if it does, no one has ever committed an assault or been otherwise detained by law enforcement for obviously being a "peeping tom" under such a pretense. No one can, of course, be certain no one has ever tried it and managed to see...uh...well...what? How many of you ladies disrobe in the "public" spaces in the ladies room? If a "man in a dress" came blundering in for a peep show, what would he see? This isn't your home bathroom where you might be in any sort of state of undress.

Still, do we make all our laws based on the technical possibility of some radically unusual event taking place? do we require that everyone keep their kids on a leash because once in a while some perv snatches a kid? One of the requirements of public policy is reasonableness. There's no reasonable likelihood that a M2F being in the ladies room for any other reason than to use the commode. On the other hand, there's a pretty strong likelihood that if the same person went into the men's room there would be a risk of confrontation and possibly assault.

Another aspect of this which must be remarked on is the whole business of "protecting the children" - whatever else people might tolerate they get even less rational when you bring a kid into it (my other anonymous commenter even said she "tried to keep her child from seeing me") but this, again, goes back to the assumption that to be trans is to be, by definition, a pervert who can't be trusted to not molest a child. Besides being heinously hateful to imply, one has to ask - are convicted sex offenders barred by law from using public restrooms? Those are people we KNOW have an issue with that offense and they are not, yet we - without any evidence - are PRESUMED to be dangerous to your children?

The bottom line is that there is not one shred of proof of any sort that a M2F transsexual in a ladies restroom or locker room is ANY sort of threat to anyone's safety. it's nothing but a base emotional reaction based on irrational false assumptions. That's not to say I don't understand the emotions behind it, I do. I get the instinctive urge to worry, but you can't base the law on what worries people. And you can be asked to base your worries on something a bit more rational. Worrying about the potential that you'd be assaulted by someone like me in the restroom is about as rational as worrying about a hurricane destroying your home in Chicago.

Just for reference, here are the two comments that sparked some part of this train of though - just so you can see how some good christian folks talk when they can't be identified:

"I think you are a very sick person. And i heard about your little stunt of going into the women's bathroom...if I ever see you in there...prepare to get the cops called on you. NASTY!"

She's a real sweetheart, eh?

"I think you are a freak. My stomach turns every time I see you, and I try to shield my child from you. God does NOT like what you are doing/living, and you need to get on your knees and beg Him to forgive you and make in you a clean and new heart and go back to being a MAN, a HUSBAND to your wife, and a FATHER to your sons."

One wonders why anyone would think it's a good idea for anyone who's a "freak" to be anyone's husband and father, eh? Things would be a lot easier if you could discuss these things with rational people.

No comments:

Post a Comment