Using the restroom in peace

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Using the restroom in peace

Logan Crews, opinions editor

I didn’t realize how much of a luxury it was to pee in public until I no longer felt safe in a binary bathroom. Even though my body didn’t physically change when I came out as transgender, I no longer feel welcome in women’s restrooms. Even though my mind is male through and through, I’m not welcome in the men’s restrooms, either. That’s okay. I’m different, and that’s okay. What’s not okay is that something as simple as going to the bathroom can take walking a marathon and dodging awkward, uncomfortable encounters to get to a gender neutral restroom. And that’s on the off-chance that there is one somewhere nearby.

After the controversy in North Carolina in 2016 over the infamous “bathroom bill,” the need for gender neutral bathrooms is more important than ever. The bill, known as House Bill 2 which was originally passed in March 2016, said that North Carolina citizens must use the bathroom that corresponded with the sex on their birth certificate. That meant that transgender people who hadn’t modified their birth certificate had to use the bathroom opposite of their gender identity. This bill brought out the worst of people on social media, especially the ultra deep-south transphobic ones. They had arguments that transgender women are actually men trying to sneak into the women’s bathroom as sexual predators, as well as saying transgender people don’t exist. Knowing that these people were contributing to government policy freaked me out. It made me feel unsafe.

Of course these hateful people aren’t lurking in the halls of KHS ready to snatch me if I make a move toward a men’s restroom, so at school the bathrooms aren’t a matter of safety. At least KHS has two gender neutral bathrooms, even if they are at the opposite ends of the school with no gender neutral option in the math, science, English or social studies buildings. Out in public, though, gender neutral bathrooms are hard to come by. They typically don’t exist in public parks. Restaurants. Shopping malls. Grocery stores. And outside of school, I probably see people like the ones who defended HB2 all the time without knowing. When I’m in public and I have to go to the bathroom, I have to make a million choices. What do I look like that day? How many people would see me walking into the restroom? What are the political standings of the people around me? If you never thought having to pee would get political, you probably have never had to consider facing criticism and potentially unsafe situations upon entering a restroom.

 

I shouldn’t have to run statistics through my head of what has happened to transgender people when using a binary restroom. There’s too much violence, discrimination and hatred. I shouldn’t have to be wary of government policy interfering with my public safety. I shouldn’t have to make myself sick with worry and fear over picking a restroom when there could be just one room, single-stalled and unisex, for anyone who really just needs a few minutes alone. Having gender neutral restrooms anywhere there are binary ones would alleviate the anxiety their absence can bring. Especially since the Kirkwood community is already an inclusive place, including alternatives for those who don’t feel safe picking a restroom will make us a role model for other places that aren’t as accepting.

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