I feel like I’ve started 100 posts about this lately and nothing seems to quite say what I want to say. But I’m going to commit myself to this one, for better or worse. I know people are probably interested in updates about my top surgery, or my transition, and I’ll get to those. I just feel like I need to get my two cents about this whole bathroom argument out, speak my peace and move on.
I’ve encountered some people lately then when confronted about how they’d feel about me in their bathroom (or Aydian Dowling or Michael Hughes or any other ostensibly cis-gender looking transman) and they inevitably say that then just believe that we in the trans community should “use the bathroom we look like” and be done with it.
So the argument becomes “people who pass well can use their correct bathrooms”. Fine, right? Because there’s only two genders, right? (This is the part where I need a sarcasm font, but they don’t make those. Let’s pretend, for the sake of argument that I believe that “two genders” bullshit, which I don’t, but just humor me for a second: bigender, genderfluid, genderqueer, all of that doesn’t exist. There is only male and female. And since I “look male” I’m allowed to use the men’s bathroom.
At what discreet moment between these two pictures did I gain that right? At what point was I no longer a butch lesbian with short hair and I become an acceptable representation of a cis-gender, hetero male? Was is my first shot of testosterone? By that logic, prepubescent boys should not be allowed in the men’s room. Was it the beard? Because there are cis-gender women with perfectly natural hormone imbalances that causes them to grow a beard (and see again – prepubescent boys and their lack of facial hair). Was it when my voice dropped? Was is when I magically grew a penis and my boobs feel off? Oh wait… that last part never happened…and it never will. Because despite my outward appearance, I still have a vagina. And there are transwomen who still have penises or don’t have breasts or still have stubble that they have to manage daily. And that doesn’t make them any less women.
Have the majority of cisgender people ever had to consider the cost of gender-related transition…and trust me it’s cheaper for the guys. My hormone treatments cost me about $40 every 3 months. My endocrinology appointments – about $20 every 6 months, and I would have to attend those either way because of thyroid problems. My top surgery cost me about $3000 out of pocket. Therapy cost me $20 a week. Should I ever choose to go forward with bottom surgery, it can set me back $10,000. But we’ve already determined I was “male enough” before surgery, so all told it didn’t cost me much to be a “male” to society.
What makes a transwoman a “real” woman? Is it boobs – that surgery costs money. Is it a lack of facial hair – electrolysis is expensive AND painful. Is it high cheek bones and a pretty face? Facial reconstruction is expensive AND painful. Is it a high voice? How far does she have to go to make you feel like she’s “woman enough” for the women’s room?
And who are we to decide that we know someone’s body better than they know their own? We’ve been at it for years, really, everything from abortion to gender. Even type 1 diabetics spend their entire lives with strangers asking them “should you really be eating that”. Who gets to decide who “passes” well enough to pee?
Now let’s pretend we’ve answered the question about when a transman becomes a “man” and when a transwoman becomes a “woman” in a way that satisfies society. (PS. We haven’t, but the answer is the first time they say “I am a man” or “I am a woman”) Now let’s get back to those “nonexistent” nonbinary people.
Because they exist. They’re real. They’re people and they have feeling and needs. So we’ve already determined in saying that I’m man enough to enter a men’s room that genitalia doesn’t matter because I don’t have a penis, but I am not welcome in the women’s room. So these non-binary individuals, sometimes they look male, sometimes they look female, sometimes they look both or neither. Who gets to decide where they pee?
I have this novel idea: let’s let people decide their own bodies. Let’s let people decide their gender. Let’s stop punishing an innocent community for the crimes of a different community. Let’s stop pretending that trans people are perverts and rapists and start protecting our children in ways that matter. Let’s start reforming mental health so ALL kids can grow up not feeling like depression is a personal failing and that suicide is an option. Let’s make prison about actually helping the criminals. Let’s change the situation that made them think crime was an option in the first place. Let’s stop thinking that sharing a bathroom with a trans person is somehow worse than the fact that the world is ripping itself apart over fossil fuels. Let’s stop claiming that transpeople in the correct bathrooms will somehow invite rapists, while simultaneously blaming the victims of rape and sexual assault for somehow “asking for it”. You’ve seen the argument 1000 times: we’ve been peeing in the correct bathrooms for years and no one’s thought twice of it. So why is it suddenly a problem now? Because people would rather turn communities against each other than see us unite for something larger.
We’re just a scapegoat. Before us it was the gay community. Before that it was black people (let’s be real, it’s still the black people in a lot of places). Before that it was Asians, or Jewish, or Muslim or women or Native Americans. It’s been anyone different and long after we’ve won our battle this cycle will continue unless we step up to fight it together. And that’s not we as a transgender community. That’s we as a planet.