I might regret this.
The guy above walked into a bathroom dressed like a woman where he had a video camera in his bag. He was caught and he had hours of footage of women going to the bathroom.
This guy is what one of my best friends would call “a ruiner”. It’s because of people like him that we have controversy over who can pee where. If everyone could be trusted, we could believe that bathroom stalls are truly private, but they are only as private as a pervert’s self-control. Sometimes there are gaps in the doors where you can easily see into a stall. You could easily look over or under if you choose. (Um, hopefully not.)
If you make public bathroom stalls too private, they become a haven for drugs and even prostitution My husband works for a public library system and it’s quite the problem. One of the buildings used to have some public outdoor bathrooms and those had to be shut down due to illegal activity. Still, it’s sometimes a problem in the indoor bathrooms. Never, EVER send a child into a library bathroom alone. Or any other public bathroom.
My husband finds drug needles in the bathrooms where he does maintenance. The library’s solution is to provide sharps containers. You know, because drug users are known for being really responsible and concerned about their health. No, they will break open the containers if they can to use some of the needles inside or they leave one hidden in a stall so they can come back and use it later. It’s hard to come up with solutions for difficult problems such as this.
So I’m watching the Target controversy and the back and forth between the two camps. What stands out to me is I don’t see any men acting scared that a woman is going to pretend to be a man and infiltrate their bathroom. They’re not afraid a woman is going to sneak in and harm their children. They’re not afraid a woman is going to take secret video of them pooping. At least not that I’ve seen.
This boils down to the sad fact that men are way more likely to sexually offend than a woman. Why? It’s something we don’t understand, yet it continues to be a huge problem in our society. It breaks my heart. I would love to trust everyone. I would love to be able to teach my children that they can trust everyone, but my son didn’t even make it out of Kindergarten before a classmate simulated rape against him on the bus. I was devastated – more so for the little boy than my son because I knew something had to have happened to him. My son and I talk rather openly about body parts, bodily functions, etc., so he came home and told me immediately what had happened.
People say that reactions to Target’s bathroom policy is based on fear. Yes, many women have reason to be afraid. Many of us have been abused, stalked, sexually harassed, raped, etc. To feel like a woman is more than wanting to dress in women’s clothing. Depending on our experiences, many of us are afraid or have at times felt completely powerless against a man.
I’ve seen these arguments:
“It’s not safe for a transgender woman to use a men’s restroom.” Yes, I want them to be safe. I also want to be safe.
“What are you going to do? Check their genitals?” No, I don’t want to see anyone’s genitals. And I don’t want them to see mine. Or my children’s.
“You’ve already been using the bathroom with transgender women and don’t know it.” Doesn’t bother me.
“A sign isn’t going to stop a crime from happening.” That’s true, but a dumb policy makes it easier to offend. The pervert above will be released, I’m sure, and back to using public bathrooms.
“Stop using your children as an excuse to be a hateful human being.” Stop making inflammatory arguments and trying to intimidate others by telling them their concerns aren’t valid or even make them a hater. The H word is thrown around a lot.
“If you don’t like it, use one of the family bathrooms.” OK, but that’s going to be a long line and a lot of toddlers peeing their pants considering the number of outraged Target shoppers. It won’t bother me personally because I stopped shopping there over 5 years ago.
“Go to the bathroom before you go there.” (Have you ever shopped with a toddler?)
“You should be worried about your sons going into the men’s bathroom!” Yes, I am. I take them into the women’s bathroom until they are quite old and when they seem too big to go in there, I loiter right by the men’s door and at times continue talking to them or first call inside to find out if anyone is in there already.
“I wish there were better things to worry about than where people can pee such as ___, ___, and ____.” I’m sorry, but concerns about sexual assault or someone spying on your naked rear end with a video camera is a pretty big deal to me. I don’t appreciate guilt trips.
What people don’t understand is that policies (and even laws in Washington State) prevent a woman from identifying danger. Back to the guy above. I could never buy for a second that he’s a woman, yet he dressed up like one and waltzed into the bathroom to violate women. We are now expected to assume that someone like this has just barely begun to transition. You can’t prove feelings.
As women, we no longer have the right to yell at the pervert, “GET THE H OUT OF OUR BATHROOM, PERVERT!” No, now we’re doing something wrong if we do that. And it’s not that we would want to hurt anyone who’s transgender, but I know the feeling well of being in a public bathroom alone and suddenly hearing a man’s voice. I’m filled with instant terror until I realize it’s just the janitor wanting to come in to clean.
The way I feel is: If you are transgender and a very convincing looking woman, we won’t notice. Go ahead and pee. Maybe run it by some close, honest friends to see if you can pass the test. If not, I think the respectful thing to do is to use the unisex bathroom. There are many ways to dress like a woman. Some women don’t get dolled up ever. Some wear jeans and sports jerseys. So do men. I bet a lot of transgender people could get away with using either bathroom. Most people aren’t going to say, “Excuse me? Are you a man or a woman?”
Because moms/women are now afraid of pervert opportunists taking advantage of the “Come on in if you feel like you’re a woman but still have male genitals and look very much like a man” policy, that could make an awfully long line for the family restroom. And of course it wouldn’t be cost or space effective for businesses to build many family bathrooms.
This guy. I can’t even imagine him looking like an actual woman. Look. I even tried putting a wig (It’s a messy wig!) and make-up on him using my expert Microsoft Paint skills. I thought about making him blonde, but I thought the black matched his 5 o’clock shadow better.
This policy is such delicious, low-hanging fruit for a pervert. For instance, when I went to Gasworks Park in Seattle as a teenager, I was playing hide-and-seek with my sister and some friends. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a man sitting there watching us and I felt like I shouldn’t look. My sister’s friend said, “Come on. Let’s go.” We had been hiding in this covered area that’s filled with large, colorful pipes.
As soon as we left the area, she informed us that he had pulled up on his bike, pulled down the front of his spandex shorts, and was currently “not master of his domain”.
I’m sure that guy is shopping for wigs as I type this.
My brother deals with perverts as a cop. My pervert awareness has increased considerably since he was given that assignment. Don’t underestimate what lengths a person will go to to get their thrills.
Maybe we should be like Europe with unisex bathrooms monitored by attendants? But please not the part where they decide how much toilet paper we get to have. I was 15 when I went to Austria and wanted to tell one attendant, “Really?! Three squares?” It’s not enough to be covered!”
May your bathroom experiences be peaceful and non-eventful. May we all have mutual respect for each other’s feelings and be considerate. Twenty years ago, I never would have imagined this conversation would be happening.