As a gender nonconforming person and a member of the trans community, I find that I’m constantly stuck between a rock and a hard place, or in this case, between a stall and a urinal. If I choose the women’s restroom, I risk facing panicked women who take one look at my facial hair and assume that I’m a predator. If I choose the men’s restroom, I risk facing transphobic men who, with one glance at my dangling earrings, begin hurling slurs or throwing punches.
Trans people and our allies across the country have taken up the rallying cry #ProtectTransKids in order to shame Donald Trump for rescinding Obama-era protections that provided all trans students with “restroom choice.”
But what national LGBTQ organizers and social media personalities alike seem to be missing is that the Obama-era protections for trans kids weren’t good enough to begin with. Allowing trans students to “use the restroom that feels most comfortable to them” assumes that a comfortable option exists in the first place.
For most trans people, particularly young trans people who are still understanding their identity, no gendered restroom is comfortable. That is why we must begin a national conversation about gender-neutral restrooms.
It’s not as radical of an idea as you might think. Throughout my entire senior year at Duke University, I lived on a floor with completely co-ed bathrooms. When the bathroom got busy, I showered and peed one stall over from women and men and trans people alike. For the cis students on my hall, the co-ed bathroom wasn’t a big deal. But for the trans students, myself included, it was a revelation. I finally felt safe when I needed to tinkle.
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