Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The sky didn't fall in Chicago


Dear Let Us Pee,

I work just north of Chicago in a building that houses a number of arts organizations. I regularly work for two of the arts organizations in the building, and had been out to both of them as trans for a while. I was impressed with their responses (the artistic director of one said, "Great! So, what shows have you been working on lately?" and the other said "Well, if people have a problem with it we can say 'fuck off.'") but, as I wasn't ready to transition yet, it didn't really change my interactions with any of them, or their conduct around me at work.

When I did finally transition at work, my full-time employer didn't have a problem. The building is city-owned, and Illinois has gender identity as a protected class, so it wasn't really their "problem" which bathroom I used in the first place. However, I work with kids in my job at my part-time employer. The board member I was working with to figure out how/if I should come out to my students and their parents really wanted to include language about bathrooms, saying "That's going to be every parents' primary concern." She even went so far as to say that I could use (and tell parents I would use) one of the private bathrooms.

I told her, in no uncertain terms, how humiliating it was for her to even ask me to do that, as well as how illegal (by my admittedly non-lawyer reading of "access to public accommodations" in the Illinois non-discrimination laws). I was particularly hurt because she has known me since I was a young child, had been completely unphased when I came out to her, and I thought she 'got it.' We went back and forth for a couple of days, and it looked like we weren't going to be able to come to an agreement, when the chairman of the board finally interjected and said "Screw the parents' 'comfort,' take the bathroom language out."

Since then, I have transitioned at work (both at my full-time employer, my part-time employer, my students, and the building at large) and no one has given me any problems. Indeed, a number of fellow employees, students, and parents have told me that I have their support. Obviously, it would be nice to live in a world where that was expected as the norm, rather than the exception, but I'll take what I can get.

To make a long story short, I've been using the women's bathroom for almost four months now and have not had a single 'incident' with other people who work in the building, with parents, with students, or with coworkers. Indeed, building employees (the only ones who could really make trouble for me) were really happy for me when I came out to them.

Sincerely

Peeing happily in Chicago

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bathroom questions from around the internet

One of the reasons this blog was started was as a response to the accusation that non-discrimination laws for gender identity and gender expression would allow "men in women's public restrooms to commit violence" - which incidentally these types of laws do not, a person that commits a crime would still be prosecuted for committing a crime. But often the bathroom issue is being used by the "family values" type groups aka the radical right as way to deny civil rights to transgender people. Sometimes these groups or even the sensationalist media like to pose the question about sharing a restroom with a transgender person. Here is a link to one of those polls, I am sure they were disappointed to find all the people surveyed did not care.

And this question posed about using the opposite gendered bathroom... is it rude? the writer asked

And just for fun...

Bathroom Gender Benders: All Signs Point To Androgyny - Click here for this week’s top video clips

Friday, April 10, 2009

Wrong Bathroom


Wrong Bathroom

Blending humor with formal interviews Wrong Bathroom exposes the battle for entry into gender specific restroom spaces for those who don’t fit into the cookie-cutter silhouettes outside the door.

Ever thought you were in the wrong bathroom? You know, when the person exiting the stall before you creates confusion as to which bathroom you entered. Maybe she was too tall, or he was too skinny, causing you to question the person's gender and your choice in bathrooms.

Imagine a life, where, on a daily basis, you must prove you are in the 'right' bathroom. By going where few videos have gone before, Wrong Bathroom blows the stink out of the stall on this civil rights issue. Public restrooms historically have been a place of discrimination and harassment. From the segregated bathrooms of the South to the fight for women's restrooms in the workplace, access to public restrooms has long been a civil rights issue.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Single stalls

Dear Let Us Pee,

I get excruciating periods, which ravage my body physically sick, incurable by Peptobismol, and I am screaming with pain for at least one, if not two days a month. I had orientation for a course and was all but crying on the way out. Luckily, my friend had it too and had driven us. I asked that we had to stop at Walgreens immediately. I made my way around the store as quickly as possible getting tampons, anti-nausea liquid, and Midol. When I got up to the counter, I asked the guy who rang me up if I could use the rest room. I followed him to the back, and he punched in the code on the mens room door before i could protest. Not wanting to make him uncomfortable, I thanked him and went in. I took the anti-nausea medicine, did my business, but then realized... there was no place to put the wrapper to the tampon, so i had to keep it in my pocket and put it in the trash once outside. On top of it all, i threw up the anti-nausea medicine five minutes later.

This situation was touchy because, i didn't want him to be uncomfortable... did he know i was not a boy? If he did, he may have been trying to make me feel more comfortable.. but regardless.. single stall bathrooms need not gender biases.

Sincerely,

Single stall bathrooms don't care which gender you are

Sunday, April 5, 2009

'THAT'S THE WOMEN'S BATHROOM!'

Dear Let Us Pee,

While traveling with some people through rural Pennsylvania, we hit a rest stop. I am tall, my hair was short and I was wearing 'mens clothes.' Despite my huge tits, as I headed into the bathroom marked WOMEN, the fellow minding the store shrieked at me, 'THAT'S THE WOMEN'S BATHROOM!' I turned slowly and glared at him, whereupon it dawned on him that I was not a dude and he bumbled an apology. After I finally broke my silent death gaze, I went in and peed, wondering why the hell the guy is 1. gender policing bathrooms, 2. gender policing single occupancy bathrooms.*

Sincerely

*I don't really understand why any bathrooms are gendered, but the absurdity of gendered single occupancy bathrooms is extreme.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Bathroom Policing in Europe


Dear Let Us Pee,

I was touring with a band through Germany when we stopped at a gas station to pee. As the three of us all went into the women's room, the bathroom guardian (presumably there to make sure no one jumps over or ducks under the turn style to pay the 50 cent toll) opens the door behind us and yells something to the extent of "you can't go in here! This is the women's room!" Being a transwoman, I froze and panicked, having never been outed in a bathroom before. But to my surprise, it was my cissexual friend that I had come in with that the man was barking at. "Ich bin eine Frau! Frau! Frau!" she yells back, pointing to her chest. He left before I saw whether he was embarrassed or not. This was the first of 7 times that she was yelled at for using the women's room in the course of six weeks across many western European countries. And I've come to learn that often times, people who clean toilets for a living, are unhappy people waiting to exercise the little bit of power they believe they have.

Sincerely,

Bathroom policing still sounds the same in German

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bathroom Art

Dear Let Us Pee Fans

We are deviating from our usually stories to bring you a bit of bathroom inspired art from a loyal fan.

Sincerely

Staff of Let Us Pee

Artist Statement:
The inspiration for this project came when I was in Austria in 2006 for short-term study abroad. Someone said, “The bathroom signs are so different, we should take pictures of them.” I took the idea and ran with it. The photos did not begin to form a project until I heard about the call for art for this year’s Vagina Monologues. The bathroom signs are from Austria, Spain, Simmons, Phoenix and Nicaragua. The women, girls and gender-bending people (and baby boy) are from the US and Nicaragua. They are black, white, Asian, Latino/a, multiracial, single, married, divorced, widowed, partnered, underweight, overweight, disabled, able-bodied, gay, lesbian, straight, pansexual, bisexual, adopted, immigrant, wealthy, poor, middle-class and much more. This piece is meant to provoke thought on what it means to be female, and the meanings behind these signs that separate and exclude for the purposes of our most basic needs.