Last week was a long ass week. I’ll spare you the details, but by the end, I NEEDED a release and found one at an Atlanta Comedy Club. As I finished my ?th drink, and listened to “Titties in the Building” by The 85 South Show, I realized I had to pee and so obliged my bladder. Upon entering the restroom I was greeted by a transgender woman who although was polite, startled the fuck out of me: Not because I live under a rock and have never met a transgender, but because I had never encountered one in such close proximity as the women’s restroom. As you probably know transgender as it relates to ANYTHING is largely controversial, but especially in regards to restrooms. Which restroom do transgenders use? The one correlating with their sex at birth? Or the sex they now identify with? How will women feel being in a restroom with someone who was once a man? How will men feel comfortable whipping out their ding a ling in front of someone who used to be female? All of this controversy has only ever been something I’ve dealt with from afar, nothing I’ve had to experience personally or soul search for. But honey let me tell you when I locked myself into that bathroom stall, I soul searched, peed and soul searched some more for what seemed like 30 mins. By the time I emerged from the restroom, I had arrived upon several epiphanous realizations:
I initially thought: 1) that’s a transgender woman 2) she used to be a man 3) men should not be in the restroom with naked women and 4) men are dangerous. TBH I felt as though I was naked in the bathroom with a man: rape, assault, theft, etc. crossed my mind. Then I realized my point was null and void: a woman is capable of those things too, including rape (read this story if you don’t believe me). Not only that but the assumption that this transgender woman was in the bathroom to assault me, is just as ugly as assuming a black child in a hoodie is a criminal. She was there to use the bathroom and check her makeup: nothing more nothing less.
After getting over the initial self-induced anxiety, I realized the panic stemmed from my small minded split-second decision that she is still a man, regardless of what sex she identifies with. And again, I felt wrong. Who the hell am I, or anyone else, to make that decision for another able-minded adult? If they decide to identify with male or female, Christian or Muslim faith, Pepsi or Coke, it’s not my business or my decision.
Deciding to be transgender is not as simple as deciding Pepsi or Coke, though.
Humans feel entitled to happiness, it’s natural. As a result, we are constantly pursuing happiness to find out who we truly are, to conquer our fears, to self-accept and self-love. So why should it be any different for someone who is transgender? Someone who was once imprisoned and found zero solace in their own skin. Someone who’s felt alone and judged by everyone: including family. They too are human, just born into a sex that feels completely wrong for them. Kind of like a pair of jeans two sizes too small: they can put up with it, but at the expense of their comfort, self-acceptance and happiness.
Finally, for those who have found the courage to come out as Transgender, small minded strangers (me in this situation) are the least of their worries. By the time the world knows they are transgender, they’ve conquered fears not even the most successful of cisgenders I know have. They’ve found the nerve to face themselves, their doubts and their fears. They’ve also faced their families, their friends, and sometimes their significant other with their decision. Could you imagine that angst? Telling your mother you’ve not felt comfortable the way you were born since you were born? I’m too scared to tell my mom my actual credit card debt, so yeah, can’t even imagine telling her that.
All of this to say: To solve a problem, we must first acknowledge it as a problem. Discriminating against, or alienating a group of people for chasing their happiness, is a problem. Controlling which restroom they use is a problem. I admittedly walked into a women’s restroom unaware of my ignorance to the transgender culture but walked out realizing my intolerance. I’m still not completely accepting and will not lie as though this was a completely mind-altering experience.
It did, however, inaugurate my need to learn more, which brings me to my very last point: We will always be uncomfortable with what we are not used to, that is the essence of discomfort. To eliminate that discomfort, though, does not mean eliminating whatever it is causing it: we can’t eliminate transgenders, gays or minorities. But, we can change the way we think and seek to learn, expand and accept even when we don’t agree. The more we do that, and understand human is human is human is human, and we all have the same essential need and desire to be happy; we can open our hearts to general acceptance and love. A love so ferocious, despite sexual orientation, religion, skin color, or other issues that have historically unconnected us, it still remains.
To the woman in the restroom: I am so happy you had to pee at the same time as me.