So North Carolina has been all over the news for what many have dubbed “The Bathroom Bill.” I’ve been doing a lot of head shaking over it, when I wasn’t thanking my lucky stars I was born and raised in Chicago, and spared a lot of the foolishness that people in southern states seem to suffer.
I feel for the transgender community. The way this group is denied even the most basic human rights is far more criminal than regulating where someone uses the toilet, and while straight people aren’t the focus of this blog, the transgender population’s plight affects us, too. I’m not talking about sympathy pains or empathy for injustice either.
I read an article about a woman using a bathroom in Target — there were four stalls, the other three were empty — when a stranger put her eye to the crack in the door and stared at her.
Yeah. You read that right. A woman stood outside the door and stared at a complete stranger. The poor woman inside the stall was so taken aback she didn’t know what to do or say — guess who wouldn’t have had that problem? — so she just did her business and hustled out. While she was washing her hands, the peeper said: “Sorry about that. But you know, Target lets men and homosexuals use just any bathroom now. I was making sure you were a woman.”
So, essentially your intolerant beliefs were so strong you felt justified in monitoring what’s going on beyond a closed, locked door?
This is what burns me up about the bathroom bill. Transgender people aren’t routinely having drunken raves or recruiting sessions in public bathrooms. They aren’t routinely touching strangers inappropriately, holding rallies or campaigning for pending legislative changes — they’re just using the bathroom.
Yet, there are laws that prevent them from conducting this very basic human function. To add another layer of lunacy to the deal, there are people like this peeper making non-transgender people feel uncomfortable by invading their privacy.
There is no “sorry about that.” That woman should have been told exactly where to go, how to get there quickly, Target should have been informed, and she should have been banned from the store for life for sexually harassing a customer. An arrest should not have been out of the question.
What would have happened if the woman in the stall had actually been transgender? There’s a question for you. I was talking to a transgender co-worker, and he told me he is routinely harassed just going about his business, not bothering anyone. Think about it. There are a ton of instances where trans people are targeted for abuse and violently assaulted, but how many stories do you hear where they are assaulting others? Good luck finding those cases, which begs the question: Who’s really the dangerous party here?
The bathroom bill is essentially legalizing discrimination and making it unsafe for this minority cohort to execute a normal function. And, as my transgender peer pointed out, it doesn’t make things any easier if you’re worrying about jail time while you’re at it.
This legislation has amped up the fear and disgust that were already there for gay and transgender people, and it forces them into situations where they can be physically harmed. Where’s the legislation protecting these citizens? Yet, transpanic or gay panic — “I beat the hell out of him/her, but you should let me off because I was scared; he/she was gay” — is a working legal defense.
“This is just about disgust. They’re disgusted by me, so they want to hurt me,” my peer said. “It just makes people scared. I don’t appreciate being turned into a monster.”
That’s the truth. This unseemly scrutiny has contributed to the idea that transgender people are scary, perverted or freaks — my peers’ words, not mine — yet how many of us can say we’ve evenmet a transgender person? Had I not met one at my job, I wouldn’t know one.
In their quest to protect the world from everyone who isn’t white, conservative people are getting to be really dangerous. Learning more about the drama and danger transgender people suffer makes me appreciate my particular beefs as a black woman, and that’s saying something.