This week the Foreign Office took the unusual step of issuing a leaflet aimed at travellers to certain states in the USA. Unusual because this sort of thing is usually only done for countries with repressive political systems and/or cultural norms very different from our own, essentially to help people not get into difficulties with the authorities. This leaflet is intended for transgender people and is necessary because the legislators of some southern states find our genitals really fascinating.
Now in all the years I have been using communal toilets I have yet to have sight of anyone’s genitalia. And, like most people, I am not interested in what people have between their legs unless they happen to be sexual partners which, I can assure you, is a small minority of the people I interact with. Yet, there are those who take a very great interest in what people have between their legs, particularly if they are trans. Some US states have enacted laws obliging people to use only the toilets corresponding to their birth sex which, if it were to be enforced, would mean that everyone would need to submit to a genital examination before being admitted.
This is not, of course, about bigotry…..really . We are told it is to prevent embarrassment and to protect women from sexual assault since, apparently all trans women are rapists. On the first point it is hard to see what embarrassment could result since all trans people of any gender use cubicles, And as for the second point, it is beneath my dignity to engage with it.
So ladies this could mean you have a man in a suit and a hipster beard walking in or a petite feminine lady in a dress using the gents, which in some cases, would expose her to risk off assault. But if trans people are to be denied rights, hey let’s do it properly.
And this is not just about the law. Most trans people who use the toilets corresponding to the gender they identify with have felt uncomfortable at some time. Some of them may try to avoid using the toilet at all when out, which is not a good thing when you’re having a meal washed down with a few drinks. It is no coincidence that trans people of all genders suffer an above average incidence of urinary tract infections.
This whole episode says most, however, about the people behind it. Do they feel threatened by us? Why? If they could look beyond the ends of their noses, or whatever other appendage they have, they might see that the open acceptance of trans people can be liberating for everyone both inside and outside the bathroom.