The Bathroom Lie

The women’s room is only for people like you.   That’s why you can feel safe in there, knowing that it is limited to “us,” while “they” are kept out by tradition and law.

That’s a big lie, of course.   The people who use women’s rooms, even legally, are quite a diverse bunch.

Ex-convicts can use the women’s room, alongside of the Amish.   Nuns use the women’s room, the same as sex workers do.  People from every country in the world, raised in every culture, use the women’s room.   Some have endured genital mutilation and others like nothing more than a quick knee-trembler with a good looking guy.

Women who lust after other women use the women’s room, right next to fundamentalist Christians.  Masculine hearted butches use the women’s room, and even some people who know themselves to be men but are passing as women.

Just because you use the women’s room doesn’t mean you are in a stall next to someone like you, even in places where only people assigned as female or soon after use that facility.    The range of possibility in gender, culture, experience, desire and behaviour just in the population of assigned female people is huge.

I remember when the partner of a transwoman asked me if it was true that a transsexual had used the showers at Michigan Womyns Music Festival.   She was distressed, thinking that was going too far, being too in your face, even for a protest about their “woman born woman” rule.

I checked and had to report that yes, it was true, a transsexual had used the communal showers.   The transsexual, though, was Tonye Bareto-Neto, born female and then working as a trans man in a county sheriff’s office.  According to the rules, birth sex defined you, so he took a shower.    The partner was relieved, though, that it hadn’t been a man in a dress in there.

The notion that women’s rooms should feel safe because there are only people like us in there is a lie that the normative want to believe.    They think people “like us” are safe, even though most sexual abuse comes from normative appearing people, often friends of the family or even those in positions of authority.

Sure, the women’s room at church may only include people who go to your church, self-selected for willingness to be one of the gang, but once you step out of those kind of homogeneous settings, into the workplace or the mall or the airport, diversity is the only constant.

The people who use the women’s room come together under a kind of social compact, one that lets all users understand appropriate behaviour, following the rules and keeping each other safe & comfortable.   The wide range of diverse people in there, from the aged woman to the little girl to the intersex person are just trying to do their business, be appropriately sociable and keep the place nice.

I remember a time when a transwoman was hounded out of a local library by a butch security guard because she was reported as using the women’s room.   A local talk radio guy chose to take a angry press release written by a trans activist and make a fuss, complaining about “hoo-haa’s” in the ladies room.

Everyone agreed, though, that the only place this transwomans genitals had been exposed is inside of the toilet stall.   Any women who saw them must have been invading her privacy, deliberately peering through the cracks in the partitions.

Who has broken the rules of conduct more here, creating more unsafe conditions, the transwoman who needed to pee or the trouble making intruders who feel entitled to spy on others?

It may be comforting to think that the people in the women’s room are there because they are just like us, to believe that people like them are barred at the door.   That’s a lie, though.   The women’s room is full of diversity.

What women share in that room is a commitment to safety and decorum.  Anyone who violates that is a problem, whatever their history and biology, be that spying, policing, or any other kind of intrusive and unsafe behaviour.

Laws that say biology is more important than gender, that we are our holes, may seem to help enforce that lie that the women’s room is only for people like us, but they miss the whole range of real and robust diversity that really exists in women’s rooms already.

If you are scared to use a public facility where people who are not like you might be sitting next to you, even through a partition wall, then maybe using public facilities is just not for people as closed minded as you are.

All kinds of women with all kinds of biology, all kinds of history, all kinds of desire and all kinds of preferences already use the women’s room.   They are all like you, yes, but mostly because they identity as women, making the choices of a woman in the world, and not because they share your heritage, beliefs, fears or politics.

Enforcing decorum and proper behaviour in the women’s room is good and right.  No female should be able to take exploitative videos in there, for example.

Enforcing purity in the women’s room, though, is trying to keep a lie going, the lie that only people like you deserve what you have.

America is a big, pluralistic society committed to personal freedoms.   And every public women’s room already follows those same guidelines.

Everyone, you see, gets to pee.  Hurray!