In general, I don't spend much time thinking about the sanctity of the public restroom. Mostly, I rate bathrooms according to their cleanliness; whether there is urine on the toilet seat or skid marks in the bowls or how I can get in and out without touching anything. But, as I read the news about South Dakota State Legislator Roger Hunt calling for "genital inspections" to keep our playing fields and locker rooms penis and vagina specific, or about high school students Lila Perry at Hillsboro High School in Missouri and Gavin Grimm in Gloucester, Virginia under siege for wanting to use the school bathroom appropriate for their gender identity, why are there people who care so deeply about the place specifically designated for urination, defecation and, hopefully, hand washing.
Just as some of the most heinous "bathroom bills" denying trans people appropriate bathroom access seemed to be abating, Mr. Hunt comes along, proclaims that" we here in South Dakota aren't like people on the West or East Coasts" and offers legislation that calls for genital inspections of transgender athletes. This on the heels of the South Dakota High School Athletic Association making sports trans inclusive.
I wonder if that includes anyone "suspected" of being transgender. Will that give coaches, school officials and athletic directors carte blanche to examine the genitals of anyone they think might be transgender? I continue to ask why people like Mr. Hunt could possibly care? Is he concerned a boy might claim to be transgender so that he can dominate girl's field hockey and thus upset the delicate competitive balance of high school sports in South Dakota?
In Missouri, are people fearful Lila will lay down on the bathroom floor and peer under the stall divider to watch other girls relieve themselves (I can't help but be reminded about former Idaho Senator Larry Craig's "wide stance" when I think about bathroom etiquette.) Or that Gavin is "gaying up" the boy's room and his mere presence threatens the other guys.
Historically, school officials, wrestling with behavioral issues inside bathrooms has generally been about smoking or bullying or too much gossip time. I assume controlling those kinds of behaviors is why the hall pass was invented.
Let's cut to the chase. Those people who are fearful about transgender folks using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity are worried we are perverts, peeping Toms or molesters. Perhaps they think the simple fact of just being trans is perverted. First "the gays" get to marry, and now this. We may have to share our schools and our wedding vows, we may be losing our right to discriminate, but by God we must keep our bathrooms holy. "I don't want that transgender person hearing me pee or watching me buy a sanitary napkin from the machine on the wall."
I promise neither Lila nor Gavin (as an aside I happen to know him-he is a great guy; warm, smart and intent upon being successful in life) have any interest in spying or peeping. They just want to go to the bathroom in a safe place among their gender peers. I would say the same thing about every single trans person I know.
Are public and school restrooms sacred spaces? As a transgender person, am I somehow defiling an inviolate law that has been handed down for generations when I use the restroom designated with a stick figure skirt?
If one more time I see the phrase "change is hard" as an excuse for intolerance, I may be forced to hurl in a public bathroom. Change is not hard. Being mindful about acceptance and being intentionally loving does require self-discipline. It may be surprising when Lila or Gavin come into the bathroom. It may be upsetting when a trans girl plays on the field hockey team and scores the winning goal. But you know, maybe it is time to prioritize acceptance and unconditional love over winning a game or keeping our school bathrooms and locker rooms the way they have always been.