As I understand the story, the department store Target is way ahead of most folks, and has figured out that:
- Trans girls are, well, girls
- Making female restrooms off-limits to some girls while welcoming them to male restrooms means they might eventually go into the male restroom.
- Sending a girl to pee in a guy’s restroom is a very bad idea even if (like me and so many t-girls) she would presumably use the stall not the urinal.
Here are two stories to illustrate why:
Story 1 involves me, a trans girl a.k.a. t-girl, going into a male restroom.
Story 2 involves a t-girl friend of mine, going into a female restroom (not at Target but in a hostile culture).
Story 1: T-girl in a Male Restroom
I came out openly as a trans girl long before places had generally figured out how to deal properly with t-girls in restrooms. Me, I adhered to the law and to public convention, as it was at the time. I was supposed to go pee in male restrooms, so I peed in male restrooms.
As to open-mindedness, it’s hard to imagine more open-minded a place than:
- In San Francisco
- In the heart of downtown
- In the most elegant part of downtown
- In a business supposed to be downright hospitable: a hotel
- In an elegant hotel
- In a very pricey hotel: the Hyatt.
So, this meant that a tall, blonde, leggy chick in a short cocktail dress (that would be me at the time) ended up walking elegantly into a bathroom stall in the men’s restroom in the Hyatt at the Embarcadero, San Francisco. So far, so good. I sat and peed as I’ve done ever since I was a little girl, and then I got up, flushed and went to the washbasin to wash my hands.
Problem: a guy was there, staring at me incredulously. I tried to be nonchalant. He stormed off. A few seconds later, an angry janitor marched in, stood near me and glared at me, then … I felt the hostility ebb and curiosity increase. Eventually I could just about hear the gears whirring in his head. Finally, my firm jaw and 6′ height and large hands probably helped him figure out that I’m a t-girl and by the dumb standards of the day, that’s where t-girls were supposed to go pee, so okay.
Was that an unpleasant waste of time for all involved? Yes. Were those dumb standards? Yes, then and now.
Story 2: T-girl in a Female Restroom
One of my t-girl friends went on a road trip with me. By that time, I’d finally gotten my ID changed to be officially female, so worst case if the bathroom police confronted me I’d flash my ID as my get-out-of-jail-free card since, hey, I’m a girl and I’m supposed to pee in girls’ restrooms — so leave me alone when I do that.
Fortunately it wasn’t a modern t-girl hating Nazi state where I expect the bathroom police will shine a flashlight “down there” to inspect me. In that case, ID or no ID, God help me if I have an outie as plumbing because by their standards that must make me public enemy number one.
So, for me, this was a very care-free road trip.
For my friend, however, it wasn’t. Even though she’s a t-girl and thus 100% female where it matters (her brain structure) she still had an ID that read “M” so if she went to the restroom she’d risk getting into big trouble either way, either being harassed by law enforcement (if she chose the female restroom) or by males (if she chose the male restroom). As we drove the 400 miles, I started commenting on how I was cheerfully hydrating whereas by contrast she hadn’t had anything to drink at all for the entire day, and I was concerned about her health. Not drinking anything all day, in a hot and dry climate … that can’t be good for her bladder, kidneys or whatever. She explained she’s intentionally avoiding drinking anything until we’re inside our hotel room since she doesn’t want to run the danger of having to go to a public restroom since it’d be dangerous for her either way. That’s the life of a t-girl in a hostile culture. Thank goodness there are now places like Target where people like my friend can safely go.
As to my friend, I’ve spent months with her in close situations and I trust her with my life and my every asset. She’s wonderful, gentle, and kind. She runs when she sees a spider. She wouldn’t hurt a fly, much less another human — unless in self-defense or in defense of someone else. However, she is 5’9″ and could at some point bench-press 400 pounds and has a serious “don’t mess with me” look plus she’s been in the US Army. So while she’s sweet as pie, she doesn’t look like it. And she’s also not yet done her voice training so her voice is … well, think “Rambo.” And she doesn’t look totally male or totally female. She looks like a transitioning t-girl because, well, she is.
If your daughter is ever being molested in a public restroom, pray that my t-girl friend is there too because while you’re doing the deer-in-the-headlights freeze, or pleading with the assailant(s), or fidgeting to try to dial 911 while sounding coherent … my t-girl friend would probably confront the assailant(s) and protect your daughter with all of her military training and with 5’9″ and 240 lbs of muscle and bone.
God knows why people think a t-girl in a women’s restroom makes it less safe for other girls. T-girls have typically had a long, hard life of being bullied by male bullies. If a t-girl sees a male bully harass a girl (whether that girl is 7, 14, 17, 21 or 24) the t-girl is highly likely to step in and protect the girl who’s being attacked or assaulted — and probably the day will end with the assailant being in the emergency room, courtesy of the t-girl who stepped in to protect the other girl. You don’t need bathroom police. When it comes to keeping girls safe, any t-girls who happen to be around would make for very effective vigilante bathroom police against males.
Anyway, back to my story. On the 400-mile return leg of the road trip, it was becoming dusk and I was snacking on cashew nuts and I offered some to my t-girl friend. She ate a few … BIG mistake. They gave her a VERY upset tummy. Suddenly going to the bathroom pronto was not a luxury or option. We were in a VERY rednecky county in a VERY rednecky town (I know much about the culture there, since a close friend had been born there and lived there as a child). At 9:45 pm I pulled into the parking lot of a store that closes at 10 p.m. I proceeded to buy several items, and my friend sped to the ladies’ restroom. Ten minutes went by and the manager announced he’s closing up soon and needs everyone out. I went over to the ladies’ restroom and peeked inside the main door. I didn’t know what to do. Multiple stalls were occupied. I didn’t wanna say “hey, wrap it up, they’re closing down” and then my t-girl friend responds in her deep voice and the lady in the other stall freaks out on the premise that “OMG Sylvester Stallone is in the stall next to mine.” So, I waited, hoping that someone would come out and then I planned to go check again in case only one stall was occupied. If so, I’d feel OK with initiating the “wrap it up” dialog.
Then, a nightmare development: a super-rednecky guy showed up with … two little girls. He waited outside and they went into the ladies’ restroom. If my t-girl friend came out of her stall who knows how the little girls might react but regardless, the rednecky guy standing outside the bathroom door would probably draw all the wrong conclusions (including that someone is guilty until proven innocent) and the day might well end with my t-girl friend being in jail — even though all she wanted to do was use the restroom in peace.
Given what male clientele thereabouts were generally like, it’s a good thing she didn’t chance the male restroom either … going to either restroom was truly a no-win situation for her.
I was already trying to figure out how to come up with bail money when the door opened and some people came out, including the two little girls. The rednecky guy left, thank goodness. Finally, my friend appeared. We paid for our purchases at about 9:59 p.m. and left.
Later, my t-girl friend told me that the little girls had been unable to reach the sink (too high for them) and had asked my t-girl friend (who was washing her own hands at the time) to help by lifting them up … can you imagine the scene if the daddy had peeked in and saw my t-girl friend’s hands on one of his little girls? Even though her intentions would have been as pure as the driven snow (i.e. to help the little girls reach the sink), he’d probably have punched her out without asking. By the time she woke up she’d have been in handcuffs.
Before you take too much comfort in the premise that the truth will eventually prevail, consider the injustice perpetrated against the McMartin kindergarten in the 1980s. Some misguided social worker apparently got the random idea that children were being molested there. Hysteria ran rampant. False accusations flew. Various adults did a splendid job of bullying little children into getting the hint and saying that yes, they’d been molested when in fact they were just trying to appease the bullying adults to get them to back off and leave. By the time all the false accusations had finally collapsed, no wrongdoing could be laid at the feet of the McMartin school or its staff. The people who had made the false accusations simply packed up their circus and wandered off, but you can just imagine how much damage had in fact been done to innocent people as a result of all this.
While you ponder that, you can also ponder how in this hostile-culture scenario my totally innocent t-girl friend in the ladies’ restroom might well have been the focus of public and official hysteria had the rednecky dad drawn the wrong conclusions. All it might have taken is one little girl saying quite innocently “daddy, there was a lady in there who looked and sounded sort of like a man.” By the time the false accusations finally subsided, my t-girl friend might well have been beat up, in prison, etc.
Now you can see why, in hostile cultures, bathrooms are a mine field for t-girls even though our intentions are as pure as the driven snow. By implication, I am categorically not going to North Carolina for the next decade or so, since the populace there has enough people to vote for the sort of politician who would pass an anti-t-girl bathroom law.
So, today, I needed NOTHING from Target but I decided to go spend my money there on principle anyway, just to say “thank you.” I bought birthday gifts for friends, months in advance. Here’s a picture of me, a happy t-girl in Target, spending money today in the (affordable) jewelry section.
Yay for Target!