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Burt Siemens

retired lawyer/teacher

Apr 30, 2016


Some lawmakers are terrified that transgenders who use restrooms designed for their adopted gender are nothing but wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Where trans get to pee has always been a practical problem for them. Now it has somehow has become a legal issue for all of us.

This how it shakes out for me.

Of course, a woman, who just happens to have a penis concealed under her dress, will look around in vain for a urinal in a ladies’ room. So, a transgender woman must resort to a closed stall, just as if she were a birthed woman.

Under these circumstances, a birthed female patron is not likely to catch a horrified glimpse of an errant penis. The closest contact she will have with the transgender woman will come when they happen to stand side to side before the mirror to touch up their make-up. Again, I don’t know this for a fact, but common sense suggests to me that by then each will have pulled up her panties.

Lawmakers say they are worried the innocence of little girls will be jeopardized by male intruders disguised as persons naturally at home in a ladies’ room. But right now a straight man bent on sexual assault or voyeurism who can skillfully pass himself off as a woman can enter a ladies’ restroom without setting off alarm.

How often that happens, I don’t know. And I doubt if anyone knows. Apparently, if it happens, no one has noticed, so no one has complained. Apparently public tranquillity has not been disturbed. Anyway, I would be surprised if there were not laws already on the books that cover that situation.

It’s only a guess, but most transgenders in ladies’ rooms take great care to avoid notice. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that they even squat when in stalls. After all, high heels with toes toward the wall might be a tell.

All the concern seems to be over ladies’ rooms. But men are entitled to equal protection of the laws. Still, I’m sure women transgendered into men have been using men’s rooms for some time. Even one who happens to carry a tampon in his pants pocket, will not raise suspicion if he forgoes the use of the urinal. He will go quietly into a stall, just as many birthed men do for their own reasons, and tend to his business in private.

I could not find any complaints about birthed females being exposed in men’s rooms. I googled it. It doesn’t surprise me. Usually a man pays little attention to what is going on in a closed stall. And, it’s not just because he couldn’t care less. He just wants to get out of the place without undue delay. Men’s rooms are not furnished for lingering. There are no sofas in men’s rooms.

However, like a woman, a man has his pre-exit rituals. He may pause at the mirror to wash his hands, comb his hair or adjust his tie; and, none the wiser, he may see next to him in the mirror another man doing the same thing, clueless that his neighbor has just changed his tampon.

But if the law stands as passed, a transgender woman, though fitted more for Hers, will have to use His. Sooner or later, some bold woman sporting man parts will show up elbow to elbow with a man standing at the next urinal. He may see her hitch up her skirt. Alarmed, his flow may stop midstream, and his cheeks may redden; but once he figures out the situation the flow will refresh. He may even chuckle.

If this happens, it is not likely to create a problem. Men’s restroom decorum posits that a man standing at a urinal must studiously survey the blank wall directly in front of him for imperfections. It is a man’s moment of Zen, a time for a spiritual connection with a natural function, a fundamental of life.

A man who glances downward and sideways knows any such glance is sure to draw, at the very least, hostile eye-contact. Men rarely engage with strangers while standing at a urinal. I know I would zip it up fast if I heard from the next urinal over: “S’up, Dude”.

Even state lawmakers must know that even transgenders must pee; and, barred from ladies’ rooms, they would prefer not to use street gutters and alleyways, which would also be against the law, and that’s where children may pass by.

Again, transgenders must pee somewhere. If they cannot pee where they blend in, they will have to pee where they are conspicuously ‘the other.’ People will probably adjust. But if there is a recipe for public disturbance, this is it. Have we gone nuts?

The geography of gender specific restrooms and the regularities of human behavior suggest what the evidence bears out: the problem, if there is one, will take care of itself, even without the aid of solicitous lawmakers. So why not leave things as they are? Sometimes the status quo is the best idea, or so my conservative friends tell me.

Restroom discrimination laws address a problem that does not exist, so they must serve some other end. I, of course, have no wish to impugn the motives of august legislatures and governors. They may entertain the notion that transexuals are ipso facto sexual perverts. That is not for me to say; nor is it for me to say that they have a hidden agenda to punish transgenders for being who they are.

I can say, however, these recent bathroom laws come from lawmakers who in most matters congenitally oppose governmental intrusion into our private lives. When we were little children our parents took our hand going into a public restroom. Now we are adults. Lawmakers, considering themselves in loco parentis, still want us take their hand before going potty.

They say they just want to keep things straight. But they cross-dress legislation in the garb of public safety so as to restrict a citizen’s access to public facilities, even those citizens who are transgender.

So, the question is presented, who here is the wolf in sheep’s clothing? The inconspicuous transgender with a full bladder, or the disingenuous lawmaker holding an empty hand?

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