People are losing their minds over the idea of trans kids using bathrooms aligned with their gender identity. As a parent of a trans kid, I rack my brain for ways to help people understand what trans is and trans isn't.
The conservative base in this country has done an outstanding job of demonizing transgender individuals. They make the most outlandish and baseless claims and people gobble it up. This is so perplexing to me. I find myself perusing Facebook profiles of trans opponents, looking for some common thread that explains their position. To my dismay, many times, I see my family reflected back at me; loving families taking selfies, adorable children blowing out birthday candles, a lovely sunset with a perfectly silhouetted little clan. These people are just like me. I desperately want to find fault so I can dislike them, but then I stumble upon a picture and pause, "Wait, is that my freaking neighbor?"
Below is a Facebook comment I pulled from a friend's Facebook profile. She had posted something about the recent South Dakota Trans Bathroom Bill debacle and this was a Mom's response:
Hmmm, you're upset that a male that is transgender is banned from girls restroom???
I myself would not be comfortable with a male boy that is transgender walking into a restroom while my daughters are in there. It is a matter of time that young boys will say they are transgender just to have easy access to the girl's restrooms or even locker rooms then after school decide they no longer want to go down the path of transgender.
I wish I could transport you into my world so you could see with your own eyes what a transgender child looks like. Let me describe mine: My daughter is seven years old, she loves American Girl dolls, gymnastics, piano, jumping on the trampoline, tattling on her little brother, and making excuses to extend bedtime. She dreams of becoming an astronaut, a gymnastics coach or a musician. She has friends, both boys and girls, and plays equally well with both. She loves candy, tries to convince me that some candy is actually good for you, and wants to buy and eat an entire bag of Flaming Cheetos when she earns her first paycheck. I can pretty much promise you that my seven-year-old daughter is almost identical to your seven-year-old daughter.
Here's what my daughter isn't. A sexual predator. A beefed up boy stealing dresses from a sibling to sneak into a bathroom. A depraved abomination. I'd venture to say the biggest misconception of trans individuals is that they are inherently flawed; specifically that they naturally gravitate to the amoral and perverse.
This simply isn't true.
Parents, trans kids are no more likely to engage in sexually deviant behaviors than their "cis" (someone who identifies with the sex they were born as) counterparts. If a child or teenager is whipping out body parts in the bathroom or harassing others you have a completely different problem on your hands; it has absolutely no correlation with being trans. And for the kid who decides one day to dress up like a girl and declare himself "trans for a day"; this is not how "the path of transgender" works.
If you randomly met me and my daughter at a park, we'd have a normal conversation about "kids these days." I'd tell you your child is adorable and we'd swap stories about the evils of technology, how to best treat iPad withdrawals, and how spinach can be snuck into any smoothie undetected (you're welcome). You might ask me how long my daughter has been in gymnastics (as she flips in the foreground). I'd ask if you have any secrets for dealing with sassy children. My point -- you would have no idea that the child in front of you is transgender; you'd see a normal, happy and well-adjusted child.
The same way our children play alike, they pee alike (as crass as that sounds). Trans kids are no different from their "cis" counterparts when it comes to bathroom etiquette. In fact, trans kids are likely to be more discreet and private. So, although it might feel foreign to imagine a trans girl in the bathroom with your daughter, rest assured that my child would behave no differently than Shirley down the street.
Despite fear mongering and anti-trans campaigns, I believe that attitudes will change as people become more educated on this topic. In the meantime, I'll let Flavor Flav do some 80s preaching, "Don't, don't, don't, don't believe the hype!"
Michelle is a mother, educator and LGBTQ advocate. Her blog, Let The Boy(s) Be, chronicles her journey raising a transgender child and a child with autism. You can visit her here.