The first time I was kicked out of a women’s restroom, I was ten years old.
At halftime of a high school basketball game, I walked into the restroom with several girlfriends and faced a trio of teenagers who blocked my entrance to a stall and told me to leave. A girl in a cheerleader outfit said boys who wanted to venture into women’s restrooms were clearly perverts and that I should get out. I backed out of the door and stood in the hallway, waiting for my friends to emerge, my facing burning with shame.
The high school girls had decided that, because of my short curly hair, my Toughskins jeans, and my Converse shoes, I was definitely a boy. I was also apparently a pervert, slyly slipping in to women’s restrooms to, I suppose, watch girls relieve themselves. This was the first but definitely not the last time my right to use a woman’s restroom was challenged by folks who decided I was not welcomed—and, that I had nefarious intentions.
The “bathroom wars” are now all over the news. The Target Corporation has issued a formal policy allowing LGBT persons to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity, North Carolina has passed a law (known as HB2) requiring people to use the restroom that corresponds to their birth gender, and several states are now suing the Obama administration over its directive stating that public schools must allow transgender students to use the restroom of their choice. Stories of men policing restrooms and a grocery store security guard assaulting a transgender woman trying to use a women’s restroom have only fueled the debate about whether public restrooms will ever be safe.
Yet lost in the polarizing arguments about gender identity and ...1
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