|Here's me in a ladies room. Welcome, deviants!|
Skewing Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) as the “Bathroom Ordinance” was the latest ultra-conservative pitch for preserving their sacred right to hate on LGBT folks. The ordinance in no way authorizes men to use the ladies room. None of this is about the ladies room. Or the men’s room. It’s about the straw man’s room.
One of the guys said to me, “We appreciate your vote, ma’am. We’re working to keep you safe!”
“Who’ll keep us safe from the bigots?” I said. He gave me a grin and a big thumbs up, not understanding.
I waited in line, cast my ballot to support HERO and headed out to meet Gary in the parking lot. As I came down the sidewalk, the same guy said, “Thanks for voting, ma’am. We’re standing up for your rights!”
I’m not usually one to mix it up like this, but... condensed version:
Me: You’re standing up for my rights to use the men’s room?
Him: (looking confused) Well, no. Because you’re a woman.
Standing my full five-eleven to his five-six or so, I spoke in the lowest alto I could muster.
Me: That’s right. I’m a woman. And the fact that I was born with a penis doesn’t mean I wasn’t born a woman.
Him: You… nah-uh. You do not have a penis.
Me: Not anymore. But that’s really none of your business.
The second guy laughed nervously and said, “C’mon. She’s jerking you’re chain.” But that first guy—fish in a barrel. He instantly went to code orange.
Him: You’re not a woman. You’re a pervert!
Me: A minute ago I was “ma’am” and you were ready to defend me.
Him: If you were a woman, you’d have bigger breasts. Look at you! You’re almost as flat as I am.
Me: So now I'm required to have large breasts to use the women’s room? What's the minimum cup size? What if I’m a woman who’s had a mastectomy? Or what if I’m just a hippie chick who doesn’t wear a bra? How do you plan to enforce this policy if you can’t tell the difference?
Him: God can tell the difference!
Me: So God is supposed to monitor the ladies room? Like he doesn’t have enough to do?
Him: If you’ve got a penis—
Me: That would definitely come as a surprise to the guy standing over there. (I indicated Gary, off-sides laughing his head off.) Especially since he watched me give birth to his babies.
Him: You did not have a baby if you—if you had a penis… if you were born... that’s… yeah, you’re real hilarious, lady. You’re sick! You want men in your bathroom with you!
Me: Right. I want men in the women’s bathroom. That’s really what this is about. And yes, I am fairly flat-chested. But I could get bigger breasts installed if I wanted to, and you’ll always be a dumbass.
I flipped him off as we roared out of the parking lot with the top down, and I laughed so hard, Gary had to rush me to the nearest ladies room. I thought it was hilarious. But this morning I saw two things that made it a lot less amusing:
Thing One was the election result. Houston, the first major city in the USA to elect a lesbian mayor, resoundingly defeated an ordinance whose sole purpose was to recognize the right of all our citizens to live in our city free from discrimination and hate.
Thing Two was this story about a young woman who, in the opinion of a very stupid restaurant security guard, didn’t look womanly enough to use the women’s bathroom. The moral certitude and self-congratulation of the people who humiliated and physically hurt her is chilling. That’s a real issue. Unlike the trumped up (and Trumped up) issues ultra-conservative factions are “protecting” us from. Meanwhile, who’s protecting us from them?
The “Bathroom Ordinance” mentality is not about anything you’re doing wrong. It’s not even about who you are. It’s about who some stranger *thinks* you are. And some people think anyone who doesn’t fit the standard gender template is to be hated and feared.
I wish I had a dime for every time I was called “sir” when I was in chemo. Perfectly understandable. I have the height of a supermodel, but I’m not stacked like one. I was bald as a grapefruit. My skin was too sensitive for any kind of makeup, and because I was in misery, I dressed for comfort, frequently wearing Gary’s oversized shirts with baggy cargo pants. I was aware of some stink-eye glances, but I was never genuinely afraid to use the ladies room. I wouldn't feel that way today.
I am not for a moment co-opting the disenfranchisement experienced by people who actually are trans or cisgender. I'm saying the promotion of ignorance and hate forces all of us to live in a city that is less generous, welcoming and intelligent than it should be.
I’m profoundly disappointed in you, Houston. But I still love you. And I know you can do better.
Thanks to the fabulous Annise Parker for spearheading the HERO effort and for all the great good she’s done for Houston during her time as our mayor. She will be sorely missed.