WC: No Molestar

The North Carolina legislation saying that everybody should use the bathroom of the gender their birth certificate states tells me this: You are born one way; you can’t change, you are forced to dress as society says (not as you feel) as per the norms of the sex you were born as, and of course you are not supposed to feel any differently any way.

I once asked an Iranian acquaintance living in Spain—having seen the loosely worn head scarves of Iranian women where you could actually see hair—that were I to ever travel to Iran, instead of a scarf if I could wear a baseball hat, which should be preferable in my reasoning as I would make sure no hair sticks out for example. She said no. Because it turns out, the whole thing actually is not about covering up, but more a dress code according to your sex with an assigned role specific to being a woman. The North Carolina law is similar in that sense because basically it is saying that one can’t be transgender, or rather one cannot dress up according to the gender you feel as. They’re saying “Yeah, for now, we let you freely express yourself by dressing as you want, but you can’t go to the bathroom as you dress as, because this is the only way we’re left with controlling you”.

To me it also says that men and women can’t ever be in the same bathroom, a rule or in the case of North Carolina a law that I find myself having to break quite often: I am a woman, born that way and felt that way all my life but I use the men’s bathroom because sometimes the women’s bathroom is just not available. There is a whole long line, and I really have to go.

This is exactly what happens then: I go to the women’s bathroom and there is a long line of women waiting outside it and next to it the men’s bathroom has no lines. I look at the long line of women waiting, they look at me back, then I open the men’s bathroom and if it’s empty I just go in. In the US sometimes one other desperate woman would follow me, and I am so happy to encourage such behavior but the thing is in Spain: Not one woman follows me! I come out and they are still waiting there in line. I smile in utter disbelief, walk away and continue on with my life.

Which of course reminds me of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and the whole ERA movement that came along with it. For those who are too young to know, the proposed ERA basically guaranteed equal rights for women. It passed Congress but has been ratified by only 35 states (it needs to be ratified by three more states to be an amendment to the Constitution). What happened was that so many campaigned against it, women included, and one of the issues brought up was that the ERA would force men and women to use the same unisex bathrooms. Yeah, this really is a problem, so let’s NOT have our rights guaranteed by the Constitution!

Unisex Restroom Sign

Miami International Airport Terminal D

Just as well I simply don’t understand this reasoning that cause people to say, and pass legislation to say “your birth certificate says you are a man and now you are in the wrong bathroom” and defend this legislation by saying that this way grown men who are pedophiles will not be with little girls in the same bathroom. I just wish there was a way, a law, another one in addition to the one that says it is a crime molest and rape anybody, that stopped these atrocious acts from ever happening but look, they are criminals and as it is unfortunately little boys can already be with such predators in the same restrooms. They would not be stopped this way.

But the insinuation of course is puritanical. You are born this way, this is how you should live. Men and women shall have separate bathrooms. And that in fact if you question your gender, how you should be dressing, your gender identity, gender expression and then go ahead and act according to how you feel it, you are sexually deviant anyway, so you can’t be in another bathroom. You can’t change. And these are the rules!

On another note, consider this, another reason why I would be breaking the law often in North Carolina: I have a special needs son and I want to be with him when he goes to the public restroom. If there is no separate family restroom or a disabled one available, I have to take him with me to the women’s bathroom where we both go inside the larger handicapped stall. And if that one is not available at that time, he goes inside a regular stall and I wait right outside. You should see the initial shock of people when we enter, but then they understand. What would happen to us if we lived in North Carolina? The same holds true for a father who needs to take his blind daughter, or a mother who has to take her quadriplegic son either.

So a handicapped person would always have to be together with a caregiver of the same gender expression in public. It all sounds the same to me: Transgender people shouldn’t be in public much like handicapped shouldn’t be either. By the same token in Iran, if you really don’t want to wear your headscarf in a certain way than you better not come out in public either.

I don't know. I’m all for unisex bathrooms frankly. Because then if supervision is needed, be it for handicapped people or for little girls or boys for that matter, then any body can be with them to oversee and protect them no matter what they are.

Finally, I believe museums are the most progressive institutions. They should tell you where we are going and set an example. Last year I went to the American Folk Art Museum’s new location at Columbus at 66th in New York to see an exhibition I really I liked called Art Brut in America: The Incursion of Jean Dubuffet. Like I always do anywhere I go, I had to go to the bathroom. The quality of the photo is really bad, I apologize, as photography was not allowed so I had to be quick, but here is what the one stall bathroom had as a sign:

ALL GENDER RESTROOM

This restroom may be used by any person regardless of gender identity or expression

I think museums as "Houses of Muses" should inspire us and make us follow their example in just so many more aspects, don’t you think?


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© 2015 by NOA ISHAKI