Wednesday, May 21, 2014


It's all about the bathroom. 

When I was in high school, a lot of really smart and passionate people were working on an amendment that would make it unconstitutional to discriminate against women for being women.  Looking back, it seems a reasonable corrective to the idea that all men were created equal, opening up the founding fathers' dream of America to include the other 50 percent.  

But in my small city, I didn't know many of those smart and passionate people who were working hard to make sure that my dreams could be realized and my daughters' too. The people I knew were mostly oblivious, too busy living their salt-of- the-earth lives to worry about the Constitution.  

But there were also a lot of loud voices in my world--in school, at church, oh my, especially at church--who opposed this effort because, they said with utter certainty, it would usher in the End Of Life As We Know It. 

And their main reason for opposing those who opposed sexism?  The bathroom. If women's rights were actually constitutionally protected, there would no longer be any gender differences (as if that's even possible?) and we would all have to share a unisex bathroom. Even the word unisex became a term of derision.  

It was all about the bathroom. Something in me knew that was bogus, even then. I knew that we actually had unisex bathrooms at home and everything seemed to be okay. Something in me knew, even then, that the playing field was not level for women and girls and that the smart, passionate women in the newspaper weren't working so hard so that we could share bathrooms with men.  But what I didn't know then was how to think my own thoughts when the powerful people in my life were so certain. 

And I certainly didn't want to be responsible for the demise of Life As We Know It. 

So fast forward more years than I want to count. In my city, there is a proposal on the table to create an ordinance to protect the rights of all people, regardless of gender, sexuality and sexual orientation.  We are the last of the major  cities to approve such an ordinance and it is being heavily debated. 

This week I received an email from the pastor of one of the largest mega churches in our community reminding me to express my opposition to the ordinance by contacting my council person.  The first reason listed as to why I should do this?  Bathrooms.  

Apparently, if this ordinance is implemented, hordes of trans women will invade our powder rooms and assault us.  Never mind that in the places where similar ordinances are in place, there have been exactly zero such cases.  Never mind that if a sexual predator wanted to dress up as a woman in order to infiltrate a women's rest room, he could do that now.  Never mind that sexual assault is still against the law, even if trans women can share the ladies room with the rest of us. 

There are probably good reasons to debate the ordinance.  Religious considerations, for one thing.  Practical considerations related to enforcement, for another.  The possibility of unintended consequences for a third.  I welcome a vigorous debate about those things. But bathrooms?  Seriously?  I won't make that mistake again. 

1 comment:

Emily said...

I say thanks for posting this subject. Seems our culture has lost its talent for healthy discourse and instead has polarized itself into proselytizing debates. Discourse to brainstorm unintended consequences always seems smart--but when fabricated fears take over, seems we forget grace to include ALL we the people. Regarding bathrooms, that is my only issue with Mother Nature! I'd like Her to reconsider we women's design with Her next creation. She didn't gift us with equal ease to men when it comes to Her natural-tree-type bathrooms when out on a 5 hour hike!