My best friend is the only girl I know who wears heels to school most days; her tall graceful figure gliding across campus to the sound of click-clack-click-clack. Our endless inside jokes make me laugh at the most inappropriate times, and her warm smile is just as contagious as her confidence. We can be found out brunching or shopping when we aren’t too busy eating nachos and watching reruns of the “The Simple Life” on my couch.
But sometimes, a girl’s gotta pee.
On days she wears makeup, it’s no problem. On other days, going to the bathroom is a difficult feat. Even in the open-minded city of San Francisco, people at school shoot her questioning looks for going to the bathroom, making her feel like she doesn’t meet society’s expectations.
When there isn’t time to walk to the other side of campus to use one of the gender-neutral bathrooms, she ends up holding it in for hours until she gets home.
This is a common experience that trans people deal with daily as a consequence of a society that partly fears social change.
Last week, Trump rescinded the bathroom protections that allow transgender students to use the bathroom they identify with while at school. This is an effort of the socially conservative to judge whether trans people are performing their gender identity well enough to be “passing.”
The policy change also promotes publicly outing trans individuals, which is not only humiliating for them, but shows our patriarchal society’s obsession with controlling people based on their sexual organs.
Gender identity is one’s personal experience with their gender, which may or may not correlate with their biological sex. Sex, on the other hand, refers to the gender someone is assigned at birth based on sexual organs, but it may not be the gender someone identifies as.
A woman becoming a man, a man becoming a woman or a person identifying anywhere else on the gender spectrum is the antithesis of a society that allows men to hold the power and privilege. Those who applaud Trump’s decision are intimidated by anyone who breaks down the walls of patriarchal gender norms with the inevitable result of social progress.
Trump argues this is an issue about states’ rights, but in fact it is a matter of human rights. Not allowing a trans person to use the bathroom at work, school or any public place sends the message loud and clear: They should not exist in a public space.
Proponents of this decision often say it protects young girls from sexual predators who would take advantage of the bathroom policy. This argument is used as a distraction while conservatives cling to patriarchal dominance.
Pat’s Place, a child advocacy center, found that only 5 percent of child sexual assault victims are molested by strangers. Over the last two years, no child in interviews they conducted had been a victim of a transgender bathroom assault.
In fact, no data indicates anyone has used Obama’s bathroom policy to sexually assault girls at all. If it had happened, we would know about it because the story would be blasted across every right wing news station until the end of time.
But there is someone I can think of who proponents may want to consider if they are truly concerned with the safety of women.
What about the man who said, “Grab her by the pussy. You can do anything,”? Are we really going to believe that the man with at least 15 sexual assault allegations lodged against him has the protection of women in his best interest?
Data shows trans people are being assaulted at alarming rates. Crimes motivated by fear and hatred are more commonly committed against trans people than by them.
Legislating to control transgender bodies denies people the right to their own identity and reduces people to their sexual organs.
Later this month, the Supreme Court is set to hear the case of Gavin Grimm against his school after a 2-year legal battle for the right to use the boys’ restroom. The court’s decision may set a precedent for trans people in the U.S.
This is a crucial moment in history for trans people. Though the community has been on the fighting lines of many other social causes, they are often told it is not yet their turn to achieve full equality. Be patient, they’re told.
The time is now to support trans people in every way possible. There is no easy path to being the perfect ally, but you can amplify trans voices, educate yourself on trans issues and simply respect people for who they are.
My best friend is so much more than the sex she was assigned at birth. She has the right to exist and thrive as her true self. And so do all the other trans people who are just trying to pee.