So now we are having a national discussion about which gender is allowed to use which bathroom. States are passing laws that generate boycotts and damage the state’s economy. Editorial writers wax wroth on both sides. People demonstrate and wave signs. These bathroom wars frankly boggle my mind.
If someone comes into a ladies’ room who appears to be a woman, I am not going to peer into the next stall to make sure she has the right equipment. I don’t know of anyone who would.
You may ask, “What if she isn’t really a woman but is really a man who identifies as one?” Well, if he/she identifies as a woman, I have nothing to worry about. In my experience, Women’s rooms are pretty non-violent places where no one cat-calls, gropes, or makes propositions. No one lurks, waiting for an assignation or possible partner to appear. They are not places where illicit sex goes on and no one flashes their genitalia at another person. No one peeps. Mostly, we just go in, perform the appropriate bodily function behind closed doors, wash our hands, brush our hair and leave. Maybe we put on a little lipstick, too.
The Women’s bathroom doesn’t contain open urinals so what you have under your clothes stays your own business. No one wonders and no one cares. It’s all pretty straightforward. Besides, we’re usually too busy to waste time on such things — and often in a hurry.
Who uses the Women’s room is simply not a matter of religious liberty. There is no eleventh commandment that says, “Thou shalt not use the public bathroom of the opposite sex.”
The Dude Screws Up
But here’s a personal story that I think of when I read about yet another “religious freedom” law passed by some state whose legislators would rather waste their time on this hyper-emotional nonsense than deal with the real, important issues affecting their constituents.
In February I decided to go to the loo before getting on the plane to Arizona. We all know what airplane bathrooms look like after about 15 minutes and I prefer to avoid—or at least minimize—any time spent in one. As usual, the Men’s and Women’s rooms in Terminal B were right next to one another with Men to the left and Women to the right. I went right into the Women’s room, which happened to be empty.
While exiting the stall, I was startled to see a rather burly dude with long hair going into a stall on the other side. He didn’t look like a woman. He didn’t look like he was transitioning to being a woman. He didn’t look like someone who had ever entertained the idea of becoming a woman. My glimpse was brief but he appeared firmly set in his dudeness. What did I do?
I just decided to wash my hands and boogie on out of there. While I was at the sink, he came around the corner, saw me and stopped dead.
“Am I in the right room?” he asked.
“Oh, my God, I’m so sorry. I don’t’ know what I was thinking.”
“it’s okay. Who knows what defines a woman these days? You might have been transitioning.”
“No, no I just screwed up.” He laughed. “You’re right about that, though.”
He then apologized about five times and I left to catch my plane.
Did I feel threatened? No.Did I feel concerned? Yes, I did. That’s why I decided to leave quickly. But it wasn’t because the other occupant was a transgender person who identified as a woman. It was because he was a card-carrying male of the species who happened to have walked into the wrong place. (It happens.)
Note for dudes: If there are no urinals and the machine on the wall sells tampons, you’re in the wrong room.
Did I contact my Congressional representative to demand a law keeping dudes out of the ladies’ room? I did not. Did I feel outraged in any way? I did not. He was clearly embarrassed and I felt sorry for him. What I did do was get on my plane and fly to Arizona to have a good time.
I just wish everyone would chill out on this issue. Trust that men don’t want to go into the Women’s bathroom any more than women want to go into the Men’s bathroom. Those places are foreign territory that both genders would rather avoid.
If the person next to me at the sink does her business in private and minds her own business in public, I just don’t care. I wish our lawmakers, media outlets, pundits, and editorial writers would do the same.