Intersectionality and bathroom panic

This is a true story.

The scene: Public park in Mountain View CA, circa 2013. Lots of families, adult and kid soccer games, some weekly medieval cosplay gathering, and a middle-aged dyke (me) who needs to pee.

I head for the women’s restroom and a nice white lady with a stroller yells to me: “Don’t go in there! There’s a MAN in there!”

I shrug and head on in. The “man” must be in the other stall. Whatever. I do my thing.

But when I exit the stall, I find myself washing my hands next to a tall, gangly, young black kid in a soccer uniform. He was tall, probably 5’10 or so; but his babyface, his goofiness, his slender build — all of it told me he was probably about 12. He looks at me and gets super embarrassed, almost says something but is totally flustered. I say – “yeah, this is the women’s room; but no worries.”

I make sure I walk out with him. Luckily the scared white lady has wandered off by now. The kid jogs off to his soccer game, I wish him luck. He is, I am certain, hoping I will shut up because the last thing he wants is to be teased by his friends for going into the women’s restroom by accident. And I am absolutely certain that is what happened here – a goofy, tall, distracted boy walked into the wrong restroom. He used the stall, he even washed his hands. No harm done.

Lately, I’m haunted by nightmares of a different outcome. What if instead of me being the next person to head to the bathroom, the nervous lady had warned someone who got equally worked up about the prospect of a MAN in the restroom? What if they gathered some of the men in the park to “protect them”? What if the nice white lady had decided to call the police to report on a MAN in the women’s restroom? We all know what happens when black or brown boys are confronted by angry (white) men “protecting” their women.

Gender policing restrooms won’t keep anyone safe from actual predators intent on doing harm to others; but it will put already vulnerable people (transgender people, non-white people, gender nonconforming people) at higher risk of violence just for trying to pee.


4 Responses to “Intersectionality and bathroom panic”

  1. 1 Barbara April 12, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    Alec is apparently pushing this ridiculous moral panic through state legislators – today introduced in Minnesota. Makes me want to spit. So stupid, dangerous, and hateful. From the party of freedom and small government. Haha. Sob.


  2. 2 ruggerducky April 12, 2016 at 11:53 am

    These laws put women like you and I into danger as well, because we don’t fit the new criteria as clearly as we should. I’ve had to quite literally flash my breasts at older women who thought that my short hair and clothing meant I was in the wrong rest room. Every day I keep a close tight grin handy for the person(s) who call me sir, always listening closely to the tone in which they say it.

    They put everyone at risk. The worst part about it is that these laws essentially say Trans=Pedophile/Rapist.

    As the past few decades have shown us, being a conservative politician or religious figure is a far better indicator of pedophiles and rapist.

    Liked by 1 person

  1. 1 Growing Awareness as a Trans and Genderqueer Ally | At The Intersection Trackback on April 26, 2016 at 12:53 pm

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