Tag Archives: societal norms

Bathroom Diaries: Transgender Restroom Access VS Civil Rights

19 May

There is a lot of misunderstood dialog between sex and gender – the ideas only get more conflated in communities and households that thought they go hand-in-hand…

The most recent headliner of the Great Transgender Bathroom Debate came hot off the press of the New York Times earlier this week. One of my new guilty pleasures is to peruse the comments thread on Facebook beneath the high profile articles. I like to see individuals with opposing viewpoints duke it out. Sometimes I just laugh at the “idiocracy”, other times I learn something new and it changes my outlook. Not this time.

NYT

I try to hold back the urge to get involved – to be one of those commenters that responds to every “hater” who disagrees with me. Every one has a different opinion – and that is OK!

I relapsed anyway when a few stray cats came in and compared transgender bathroom access to the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 60’s, my own claws came out.

To assert that only biologically males are “allowed” to use the men’s restroom is not the equivalent to having a “White’s Only” restroom. African Americans, at that time, did not have equal rights. Transgender individuals most certainly do have the same natural rights as you and I. To compare bathroom access to systemic oppression cheapens that injustice.

I do believe that you cannot force someone with a gender identity crisis to use a labeled bathroom inconsistent with their self-identification. This seems unethical and likely to cause emotional harm.

However no one is being denied equal access to public restroom accommodation. This debate is less about rights and more about being afraid of what you don’t know.

A majority of heterosexuals who feel that transgender individuals are encroaching on their privacy by using a restroom opposite of their biology are scared – scared that it is a gateway for anyone to enter any restroom based off of how they are “feeling.” Of course it does enable perverts easier access to harm people, though I do not think it necessarily is “breeding” a new type of predator.

If a man is comfortable living as a woman, and vice versa, then we should respect that.

This is a slippery slope for me as I toy with the idea more of what a restroom “means” to me (this is an amazing article about stall confessionals!  http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/stall-confessions-for-women-the-washroom-is-a-sacred-place-one-for-privacy-and-reflection).

For the record, I do not mind sharing a restroom with a transgender male. But everyone is not as liberal.

This is about fighting to fight. And while I am all for human rights, I think this topic is tired. If a transgender individual does not feel comfortable using the bathroom with which gender they identify…use a unisex one! It does not automatically classify them as “other.”  Trans students are the hot topic for discussion and lament having to “resort” to entering family restrooms because of harassment and bullying.

But! but! while it seems unfair that they feel threatened and pressured to use the restroom which biologically describes them, the fact is there is no solution that is satisfactory to the majority of any stance!

While transgender people may enter any restroom they choose, they cannot change the opinions of others. Like racism, discrimination again non-conformists will persist NO MATTER WHAT.

Some of you are just too damn sensitive over EVERYTHING and need to realize that labels are necessary.

We are a species, that since the beginning of time, has named things. We are innately curious, speculative, and yearn for identification and expression as a means of storytelling and making sense of the world. Having labels is not oppressive – it is how we categorize things.

Taking away gender labels in favor of  “genderless” will not prevent standards and societal normatives to shine through. Taking away the label that women wear heels and men play with guns will not prevent people from doing those things on the basis of gender.

Utopia, then, is not a society where is no gender.

Rather, utopia is a world in which there are a wide variety of genders and gendered expressions, all of which are seen as equally true, and equally acceptable. Gender of all sorts would ideally be as unmarked, and unremarked, as whether or not you wear glasses or contacts. You’d notice if someone was male or female or both or neither, but it wouldn’t be defining, and wouldn’t carry with it a weight of expectations, anger, censure, and potential violence. – Noah Berlatsky for Ravishly.com

Demanding genderlessness only reinforces the importance of gender, and makes it more visible. It causes you to look more microscopically for the “hated” signs of gender.

The end of gender shaming will not come from people having no gender. The end of gender is the moment when wearing makeup or playing with trucks isn’t seen as having any particular meaning other than that you like wearing makeup or playing with trucks.

As long as there’s one standard, even one standard of genderlessness, those who don’t conform to it will be marked and targeted.

Making restrooms for “all” or abolishing labels on restrooms all together will not solve the issue or make trans individuals feel any less alienated.

Education and acceptance are the only resolution.

 

 

Video

Slam Poetry! Katie Makkai defines the word, “pretty”

12 Nov

When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother, “What will I be? Will I be pretty? Will I be pretty? Will I be pretty? What comes next? Oh right, will I be rich?” Which is almost pretty depending on where you shop. And the pretty question infects from conception, passing blood and breath into cells. The word hangs from our mothers’ hearts in a shrill fluorescent floodlight of worry.

“Will I be wanted? Worthy? Pretty?” But puberty left me this funhouse mirror dryad: teeth set at science fiction angles, crooked nose, face donkey-long and pox-marked where the hormones went finger-painting. My poor mother.

“How could this happen? You’ll have porcelain skin as soon as we can see a dermatologist. You sucked your thumb. That’s why your teeth look like that! You were hit in the face with a Frisbee when you were 6. Otherwise your nose would have been just fine!

“Don’t worry. We’ll get it fixed!” She would say, grasping my face, twisting it this way and that, as if it were a cabbage she might buy.

But this is not about her. Not her fault. She, too, was raised to believe the greatest asset she could bestow upon her awkward little girl was a marketable facade. By 16, I was pickled with ointments, medications, peroxides. Teeth corralled into steel prongs. Laying in a hospital bed, face packed with gauze, cushioning the brand new nose the surgeon had carved.

Belly gorged on 2 pints of my blood I had swallowed under anesthesia, and every convulsive twist of my gut like my body screaming at me from the inside out, “What did you let them do to you!”

All the while this never-ending chorus droning on and on, like the IV needle dripping liquid beauty into my blood. “Will I be pretty? Will I be pretty? Like my mother, unwrapping the gift wrap to reveal the bouquet of daughter her $10,000 bought her? Pretty? Pretty.”

And now, I have not seen my own face for 10 years. I have not seen my own face in 10 years, but this is not about me.

This is about the self-mutilating circus we have painted ourselves clowns in. About women who will prowl 30 stores in 6 malls to find the right cocktail dress, but haven’t a clue where to find fulfillment or how wear joy, wandering through life shackled to a shopping bag, beneath those 2 pretty syllables.

About men wallowing on bar stools, drearily practicing attraction and everyone who will drift home tonight, crest-fallen because not enough strangers found you suitably fuckable.

This, this is about my own some-day daughter. When you approach me, already stung-stayed with insecurity, begging, “Mom, will I be pretty? Will I be pretty?” I will wipe that question from your mouth like cheap lipstick and answer, “No! The word pretty is unworthy of everything you will be, and no child of mine will be contained in five letters.

“You will be pretty intelligent, pretty creative, pretty amazing. But you, will never be merely ‘pretty’.”