Sunday, June 05, 2016

A Modest Public Bathroom Proposal

Three stories

1. Modest Clothing

A Jewish woman wearing a stylish wig, long sleeves, and a long skirt, stands in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles. She is behind of a group of Muslim women who are also wearing long skirts and long-sleeved blouses. But their hair is hidden in headscarves.

Farther back in line are two nuns in habits.

We're used to all of types of dress, different costumes serving similar functions. The skin, the hair, exude female sexuality. Covering it is modesty personified.

I had to wonder. Might any of these women really care, at a pit stop, would they be truly offended and upset, if a trans woman, a biological male in female clothing, walked in? My guess is the cross-dresser would attract attention and curiosity from this crowd, but probably not fear.

Because they're all, almost always, fully dressed.

2.  Caitlyn Jenner  
Caitlyn Jenner Time Magazine's 2nd Runner Up Person of the Year

In April, 2015, Bruce Jenner, 65 years old, an Olympic gold medal decathlete,* crossed over to become Caitlyn Jenner, a trans woman.

Caitlyn's revelation made a tremendous splash in print and on the internet. She publicly revealed her new name in a Vanity Fair cover story. Time Magazine featured her in second place as Person of the Year. A television personality never looking for work, some consider Caitlyn a poster child, the person to validate being trans. 

We would say, she normalized it.

If the spokesperson/super athlete on the front of the Wheaties cereal box can be a woman, anyone can.

Jenner, not exactly new to publicity, still had her difficulties coming out, particularly in interviews. She had been quoted as saying that the hardest part about being a woman is figuring out what to wear.

. . . actress Rose McGowan . .  (in a Buzzfeed interview[145]) . . . argued: "We are more than deciding what to wear. We are more than the stereotypes foisted upon us by people like you. . .(during) your life of male privilege.

Despite the Rose rant, being a female in a male's body isn't easy for anyone. The struggle is hardly a privilege. Caitlyn wasn't joking or making light of the situation when she bemoaned what to wear. It can be hard, finally having a wardrobe, no longer having to worry about where and how to change clothes. It is a relief to stop hiding; the anxiety abates. You feel almost giddy, like a school girl. Before it had been hiding and sneaking around, dressing in the dark, often in a closet in the basement.

Caitlyn tells us that for most of her youth she suffered gender dysphoria, that she cross dressed for many years and tried hormone replacement therapy. She's had cosmetic, but not sex reassignment surgery.

Her sexual attraction? Only women. She's not interested in men, and certainly not children.

 3.  My Transgender Transition: When Donald Became Deirdre

Once Donald, no longer. Deirdre N. McClosky served as a distinguished professor emeritus of economics, history, English and communications at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Professor McClosky is a scholar.

Her experience as a trans woman is different, much less publicized, than that of Caitlyn Jenner. She doesn't have her own television shows, rather she has authored 17 books and 400 scholarly articles. A hot intellectual right now, the Chronicle of Higher Education and the Wall Street Journal both recently featured her. A scroll-through on her website hints at her sheer prolific intellectual productivity.

Like you, I'd never heard of her. But the WSJ essay, My Transgender Transition: When Donald Became Deirdre moved me, inspired today's post. 

Here's one clip, about driving, presumably on the highway in Iowa, and stopping for gasoline. She needed the restroom.

She writes that she had to go.

Really. No bushes were at hand, only soybeans plowed under. As I drove into a rest area on Route 80, I noted that a policeman had “read” me. I was not then passable as a woman, and heads turned if I walked down the street. 

I went in and came out, and he rushed over. It being gentle Iowa, he didn’t do anything but shout at me. 
Deirdre N. McCloskey

That's her way of saying he didn't beat on her, or haul her off to the station, even give her a ticket. He just shouted.

So, a couple of thoughts.

This bathroom dilemma isn't going away, primarily due to Main Street homophobia, still. Homophobia is always more pronounced when it is professed in "defense of the children."

Those uncomfortable with trans men and women have expressed fears for children, theirs and others. The thinking is that pedophiles will dress up as women and use their alleged female identification as an excuse to gain restroom entry. The purpose? Molest children.

Well, that would be bad. Even if it is irrational and no correlation has ever been found between pedophilia and transgender. So there needs to be a solution, a way to alleviate the fear other than sending everyone to therapy.

Thus: A Modest Proposal for Public Bathrooms or Restrooms, Either in Service Stations, Airports, Restaurants, Hotels, Health clubs, Libraries, Nail Salons, Ball Parks, Museums, or Anywhere Else:

(1) Tax credits should be voted upon to reward proprietors who install enclosed urinals in bathrooms. Nobody needs to watch anyone tinkle.

(2) Parents who fear for their children should supervise restroom visits, go in with them. If this proves uncomfortable for some reason, they should stand outside, be in earshot. Children should be taught to shout if anyone bothers them. Most of us do this already.

(3) Signs in restrooms should discourage undressing in front of others. Another tax break to business owners who add curtained off, private dressing areas.

(4) This one, surely, will not go over well, the author is prepared. But it ties in with the DMV story, so so why not give it a whirl?

There is yet another way to feel less vulnerable, if vulnerable and afraid is how you will feel if a transgendered individual makes an appearance in what you think is your personal space. When you dress in the morning, or whenever, throw on clothes that show less skin.

Nobody's asking you to wear a wig, a burka, or a habit. But clothing is power, you know, makes us feel good, less vulnerable.

Again. What to wear, what to wear.



*The winner of the decathlon is thought to be the greatest athlete in the world.



Karen said...

Last evening I ate in a nice restaurant with my family. It is a modern place, very open in its plan, lots of clear views across the dining room and into the food prep area. White and gray, you know the style. I went to the restroom, entering through a door marked "Women."

This door opened into a largish area with a very long sink with multiple faucets. At the sink was another customer, a man with a beautiful full beard and a shaved head. I was taken aback - surely he didn't claim to be female?

It took me a minute to realize that the door marked "Men" in the dining room also opened into this handwashing space.

At the bearded man's back were two more doors, labeled "Women" and "Men" again. I chose the "Women" door and found myself in a smaller room, with two enclosed stalls. I have no idea what the "Men" door opening into.

I was very entertained by my own thought process in this time of public restroom debate.

therapydoc said...

Karen, it's going to get better and better. Thanks. Great story.

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