Monday, May 9, 2016

Transgender Hysteria

Before Bruce Jenner became Caitlynn, before orange became the new black, and before people started caring about who was in which bathroom, I married a man with waist-length hair. He was, and still is, a gloriously handsome man with hair straighter than the ruler we used to measure it. Never once had he been mistaken for a woman. Years later, I had a son with that man. In keeping with his father's tradition, we allowed his hair to grow long. Even as an infant, no one mistook my son for a girl. Perhaps it was the clothing. He was usually donning the finest three-piece suit since they were cheap for his infant size. But over the past 24 months, all of that changed.

No one questions my husband about being a woman or a man. He is clearly a man. But there isn't any inquisition as to whether or not he was born that way. However, since the debate over whether or not to have transgender bathrooms emerged, we experienced a new problem. You see, I also have a daughter. My spunky little Mini-Me is notorious for saying she doesn't have to go potty 150,000 times before we leave the house. The moment we arrive at our destination, she has to potty, whether there is a potty or not. This made Mother's day particularly difficult.

My five year old daughter has no income or a driver's license. Therefore, when the time came to purchase a mother's day gift for me, she had to tagalong with her father, and point to her gift choice. Like clockwork, she walked into the store and demanded to be escorted to the potty. I should also state that she refuses to use public restrooms unchaperoned. That's not a complaint. We always have to go into the stall with her because the loud sudden flushes terrify her. So there they were, father and daughter faced with the decision of choosing the men's or women's restrooms.

"I wasn't going to take her to the men's restroom because of the urinals. Besides, she will take one look at the men in the room and will hold it until her bladder explodes." he explained.

So he decided to take her to the bathroom with which she was most comfortable, the women's. Being the boss that she is, she staked her claim on the handicap stall and pulled her father by the hand towards it. He was swiftly intercepted by a middle aged woman in the restroom.

"What the Hell do you think you're doing?!" she shouted, startling my daughter.

"I'm taking my daughter to the potty."

"This is the LADIES room, you know. Being a little bold aren't you?"

"I'm not taking my daughter to a men's room with penises swinging like a tree vines, if that's alright with you."

"But you're a man!"

"Look lady, don't flatter yourself or anyone else in here. I have no desire to see what ANY of you have going on. I'm here to let her pee. It seems to me, you're done. So why are you still here?"

Naturally, when my husband shared this story with me, I was ready to find this meddling woman and go off on her for scaring my baby girl. But I chose to listen to him share his experience instead.

"It's ridiculous." he told me. "We go to the bathroom to piss, shit, and wash our hands. Why do we need a bathroom monitor? My baby girl almost had an accident at a different store because a man stood outside the bathroom refusing to let me take her in. He said his mother was in there washing her hands. Really??"

He was angry and frustrated. So was I, but there is nothing we could do about it. Prior to the whole bathroom debate, no one would say two words to us about taking our children to the bathroom with which they were most comfortable. Now, we have several near misses a week due to the pee-pee dance and bathroom monitors. How is this fair to us? We're not perverts trying to film under the stall doors for the latest edition of Girls Gone Wild. We're not transgender people seeking to relieve ourselves without facing discrimination. We're parents, trying to get our children and their tiny bladders to the nearest toilet on time. But we have been caught up in the transgender hysteria.

There is also the issue of my son's hair. As I said before, my son has long hair, the same as his father. It's waist-length and wavy. When he was younger he was never mistaken for a girl. But then something interesting happened. He passed to the 3rd grade, which meant clothing style preferences and video games. It also meant the start of bullying. My son is an African-Native American in a predominantly white school. So when he wears two braids, he is made fun of for looking "like a girl". So my son chooses more masculine attire in hopes in appearing more like a boy than a girl. Its not that it's an insult to him to be feminine, but it's not who he is. My son was able to deal with the bullying thanks to the zero tolerance policy and his father sharing his childhood experiences.

The same could not be said for rude people on the street.

"Your daughters are beautiful."

"Thank you, but this one's a boy." I'd say, gesturing to my son, who is practically my height. He's in the fourth grade now.

"Well he looks like a girl because of his hair."

"Lot's of men have long hair." My husband interjected.

When my son started third grade, that would have been the end of it. The person would look at my husband and then at my son and realize their mistake. They would typically apologize and make some remark about his facial hair growing in someday and all would be well. But now my son is passing from fourth grade to fifth grade, right in the middle of transgender hysteria. The conversations begin the same way, but not they end like this one with a female Trump lookalike.

"She looks like a girl."

"Well HE'S not. So I would appreciate it if you would respect that."

"Just because you want her to be a boy, doesn't mean SHE will ever be one."

I had an Ally McBeal moment, envisioning slapping her across her orange face and shoving her down on her knees before my son shouting, "That's a factory original penis!" But that would likely involve trauma and Child Protective services. So I dismissed this woman as an idiot a split second before I heard my son speak.

"I was born with a penis lady. Not that it's any of your business, you perverted bigot."

Was that my son? Mama was proud. Orange Face, dropped her jaw and stuttered through an apology. There had been a few people nearby waiting on their coffee orders who seemed to have overheard the interaction. They applauded and she quickly ran off leaving her coffee and croissant on the counter.

This seems to happen exponentially more frequently now that the country is openly transphobic. My son now feels the need to overcompensate, not to prove his masculinity, but to try to divert any accusations that he is a girl "pretending" to be a boy. I have always understood when people have said that they felt like they were born in the wrong body. I've been referred to as an ally. I never anticipated, however, my son feeling the need to go out of his way to prove he is not transgender. Again, he wasn't offended that they thought he was transgender. He was offended that they couldn't see him for who is.

Now, I'm a helicopter mom. I will probably still be accompanying my son to the restroom when he is 18 years old. I trust no one around my children. So when my son heads to the men's room to potty, (he hates when I say that), I go with him. I could care less about a man copping an attitude. I'm going in with my son to protect him. If the men's room is full or filthy, I escort him to the women's restroom. And yes, I stand guard there too. I will break a cougar's neck if she comes at my baby. That's just me.

Something interesting happens when I go to the men's room with my son. And by that I mean, nothing happens! The men do a double take and literally continue their "business". No one cares. Do you know why? Because they are there to "piss, shit, and wash their hands". My husband says the only issue he notices is that there is always that one man who hangs around until they leave, to make sure nothing is happening to my daughter in the stall that shouldn't be. My husband actually appreciates that. As do I. In the women's room, however, there is so much nosiness and meddling. I don't understand this hysteria. If I had it my way, all bathrooms would be gender neutral like at the local gas station or porta potty...only cleaner. All bathrooms should have baby changing stations, and urinals should have privacy walls. If I had it my way, people would mind their business while doing their business. I mean seriously, piss or get off the pot. Don't be a self-appointed bathroom monitor either. The last thing I would want to do is regulate a bathroom knowing full well, someone is about to take a shit and stink the place up. I'm afraid of the funk and filth of public restrooms, not the gender assignment of its patrons.

It's interesting how people are discriminating against my family and labeling my son as transgender, all in an attempt to discriminate against actual transgender people. They are attacking and victimizing the very people they are claiming to "protect". Although frustrating, these experiences are not making my son bitter. In fact, he is learning through incorrect assumptions about him, the kinds of struggles transgender people experience. In an ironic twist, transphobic bigots have created another LGBTQ ally.

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