What starts as a brief update ends up being a rant about transphobia and bathrooms….

December 12, 2010 § 5 Comments

Oh, hi. My health problems finally started to improve, and then I had to fly across the country (for a very good reason: to meet my new nephew and spend some quality time with the fam), and meanwhile there’s been a whole stack of work craziness and drama that’s been eating up my energy.

But I have not forgotten my little blog, and I hope to get some time to finish the long post on angry chefs over the holidays.

Meanwhile, the last few days have seen me spitting nails in various internet arguments (because I cannot resist telling people they are Wrong On the Internet). First I ripped a few rape apologists new orifices over the Julian Assange charges. If you’re not familiar, WikiLeaks founder Assange is being held for rape charges entered against him in Sweden. Charges were filed back in August, and have been dismissed once already, and are pretty blatantly being used as a political tool against Assange in retaliation for his leaking US diplomatic cables. But that doesn’t mean that the women who filed the rape charges are lying, that they’re bad people, or even that it wasn’t rape. The details are being held pretty closely, but from what’s known, a conviction is almost certainly out of the question (which is why the charges were dropped once). But we simply can’t know whether or not the charges are true.

And then I got embroiled in Round 3000 of the Great Washroom Debate. You know, the one where somebody tries to come up with a reason that doesn’t sound completely bigoted for why trans people using the appropriate bathrooms or changing rooms is somehow a problem. And I maybe lost it a little bit.

I have several close friends who are trans, and I try hard to be an ally. It’s important to me, on levels both personal and principled. Transphobia hurts people I care about deeply, but it’s also one more (and one nastier) iteration of the enforced gender roles and deep sexism I work against. Trans rights are very much a feminist issue (despite any bullshit you might hear from transphobic feminists).

Let me state my position plainly: For many reasons, including for the safety of trans people, the safety and comfort of parents with children of a different sex, accessibility for physically disabled people, the safety of more androgynous people, the safety of intersex people, and just plain the comfort of everyone, I am in favor of getting rid of stall altogether and going with completely enclosed cubicles usable by anyone, with sinks in the cubicles or on a wall outside them. I’m also in favor of changing spaces with private cubicles that can be used by anyone. It seems to me the best solution for nearly everyone.

My restaurant has two restrooms, each a separate room with one toilet, one sink, and a locking door. One of them also has a urinal. It also has a pretty sparkly little chandelier, just for fun. Both of them are labeled simply “Restroom.” I live to tell people who ask about this that we refuse to bow to the tyranny of binary-gendered bathrooms, usually in a portentious, revolutionary-zeal-infused voice. It’s fun. I’m also serious about it, but being serious about something doesn’t preclude having fun with it.

Y’know, I was going to explain why un-gendered bathrooms are important, but it’s a miserable night here. Our ceiling is leaking water into our prep room, and dripping on a (sealed) electrical conduit, and, despite having been trying for about five hours now, I’m completely unable to get anyone in to fix it. I’m exhausted, physically and mentally and emotionally, and while I can muster enough sentiment to go on about it for quite some time, I can’t actually muster the brain power to string the words together intelligibly. Sorry.

One positive note, in the midst of all this craziness: I’m not having mood swings or panic attacks. The Lamictal is working wonders.

§ 5 Responses to What starts as a brief update ends up being a rant about transphobia and bathrooms….

  • delicious friend says:

    I’m very glad you’re feeling better.

    Bathrooms! I remember the absolute joy I felt the first time I went to a building where the women’s room was twice as big as the men’s room. No lines, for the first time in my life. Bliss!

    The Minneapolis airport has regular bathrooms, but also at least one giant single-toilet space labeled “[person-in-wheelchair symbol]/family/something”–like “companion” except I don’t think that was the word. A wheelchair and two adults would have easily fit in it, or an adult and 3 kids if they weren’t too big–or an adult and 2 kids and a 2-kid stroller. I used it as a changing room, so I didn’t have to fly in my best interview clothes. (I did look around carefully first, in case there was a mobility-impaired person who needed it more.)

    Most places don’t have the room to add them, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than one giant room at a time–but even five years ago I don’t think they were being built at all. I really hope this idea sticks. If it made my life easier, I can only imagine what it would mean for a caregiver of multiple toddlers, or a person who needs a mobility device.

    (My word. I do go on, don’t I?)

  • delicious friend says:

    And as I check for other comments…I’m ashamed that I didn’t mention trans people in my list of people whose lives would be improved by such a private space. I’m sorry.

  • Sixwing says:

    Welcome back!

    The more I read about your restaurant, the more I wish I were in an area that would allow me access to actually go to it!

    Also, I love the idea of cubicle bathrooms, unlabeled and accessible to all. I think I shall steal it and start suggesting it in such conversations.

  • Schwa says:

    Now I’m glad that medical options are actually working out for you this time!

  • Leah says:

    Good on you for the gender neutral bathrooms!

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