I took a lot for granted before I came out as a transgender man in high school. Overnight trips, cuts of my clothing and bathrooms were among the criterion. All of the sudden, aspects of my everyday life were under scrutiny and still very well are, even after graduating.
"The war on bathrooms," "the right to pee as me" or whatever title this ever growing civil rights issue may have, has shown up in Texas, Florida, Florida, Virginia and even my own state of Kentucky under the seemingly harmless title: "The Student Privacy Act." But for states like Florida and Texas, this issue went beyond schools into the public sector. And while neither of those bills have passed, it sure is scary to think about the possibility of college-tuition sized fines and jail time just for taking care of one’s business.
My first time using the male restroom was at my high school just three weeks after coming out as transgender. I was nervous, so I went during class as to not run into anyone. I did my business and left. It felt so liberating to not wait seven hours just to go home and use the restroom. Thus, I began living and going about my days as any other guy. I went all through my junior year without a problem as well. My school’s protocol in the past had been for trans and gender non-conforming students to use the gender neutral restroom located away from classrooms (and locked for the most part.) This bathroom was basically Narnia. I never saw it and never wanted to. This was the case for many students. The good ol’ “don’t ask, don’t tell."
But in my senior year, I ran into trouble when my principal spotted me coming out of the restroom. I had been interviewed in my school paper on gender identities and, well, they all knew now. At this point in my senior year, I had my gender marker changed on my documents (After several months of jumping through hoops. Get it together, Kentucky and other states.) In being approached, I was invasively asked about my “anatomical changes” and as to how my school documents had changed “in case of trouble with the government." I refused to answer anything but “I went to the capitol and did the necessary paperwork." Then, I was told that I could use the restroom, but only if I kept quiet and most certainly did not inform other transgender students because I “passed” in the eyes of my principal.
Although I kept going on with life in high school and went to the restroom as I pleased, I had never felt more invalidated for myself and for other students attending my school. Students should have the right to use the restroom of their choice, period. Currently, Gavin Grimm, a student in Virginia is fighting for his right to use the male restroom at school. Gavin’s options are much like my high school’s: Use the restroom according to your documents or use the gender-neutral restroom. This is no way for a student to have to choose. As transgender individuals living and being our authentic selves, we want the same rights. It’s that simple. Students like Gavin and I do not want to have to go out of our ways and be questioned as to why we have a “special bathroom." But that’s just about the only compromise that many ill-informed politicians and school administrators are willing to make in these cases, and that needs to change.
I read and live as a male. That’s who I am. To politicians with anti-transgender agendas, it's my plumbing. It’s how and where I pee from that could potentially bar me and other individuals from using the restrooms that correspond to our identities. And correct me if I'm wrong, but policing people's everyday needs because of genitalia is invasive and just plain gross. We’re more than our bodies.
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