Tag Archives: youth

Do we need the government to tell us where to pee?

I promised myself I wasn’t going to blog about this. This topic makes me so crazy in a fierce and nothing-good-can-come-of-it sort of way. The very idea that our politicians are squabbling over public toilet use in the house of commons and throughout the senate is so moronic—that I didn’t want to add my energy to the ridiculousness of it. But I just can’t help myself anymore. Every day that passes, the more the fear mongering soars to extremely dangerous levels. And the more it pisses me off. Remember when this was the only bathroom debate?

the great debate

If you’re in Canada, we’re talking about Bill C279. When the Bill was first introduced, I was one of many who had written a letter that was read in front of council. And the bill was passed successfully about two years ago as Federal Law. And then recently, Senator Donald Plett and his outliers introduced an amendment which would effectively make the bill useless. You can catch up on that here. If you’re in the U.S., 17 states and more than 200 cities have passed laws prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity already, while the current fight is underway in Florida, Texas, and Kentucky—each of which have introduced bills to make it illegal for individuals to use the bathroom they identify with—if it doesn’t match the biology they were assigned at birth. You can catch up on the goings on here.

The core argument against allowing people to use whatever restroom they identify with is the same regardless of which soil you reside on. It suggests one of paramount safety for women who identify as women and who were also born with a vagina. (Affectionately referred to as cisgender.) The family action group in Canada states that Bill C279 will be allowing sexual predators to go unnoticed in the ladies room and will also offer them legal defense after they have perpetrated their crimes against the ‘cissies’. Essentially, they are fighting for the right to discriminate.

To these people I say, WTF? No, seriously, WTF? How can you know this will happen? When Rosa Parks infamously moved to the centre of the bus, was she plotting to sneak up on the unsuspecting white folks and assualt them in their seats? Or was she making a spontaneous stand on the law of segregation and inequality? She just wanted to ride the bus gosh dang it… and sit where she was most comfortable to sit.

rosa parks

My rage about this topic remains the same as it first did in my letter to council a few years ago:

As the parent of a 14-year-old transgender female in the Hamilton community, I’m deeply saddened by the on-going debate over the use of a public toilet.

Unfortunately, the issue is not as black and white as most on the side of segregation would believe. We’re not talking about boys using girls’ toilets and girls using boys’ toilets and the safety therein. We’re talking about people taking action to deliberately promote prejudice against transgender and transsexual Canadians by equating them with sex offenders and pedophiles. As a mother, I’m sickened and outraged that members of my own community (where I have worked, volunteered, supported, and raised my children) would take pause to consider my child a deviant for using a public toilet that she identifies with to answer nature’s call while out in our community.

Labelling every girl born with a penis and every boy born with a vagina as a drug-addicted, low-income, loud-mouthed criminal and/or potential pedophile is a prejudiced and tired stereotype that is detrimental to the very livelihood of our community. Instead of perpetuating this prejudice, we need to spend our energies educating each other on the realities of medical misnomers and the evolution of gender non-conformity. We need to stop bickering about what’s yours and what’s mine and what’s his and what’s hers and instead focus on what’s ours. And while we’re at it, we need to mind our own business and stay out of the genitalia of those around us.

It is critical to remember that anyone who is born “different” or doesn’t meet “normal” identity criteria (as assessed and judged by those who deem themselves the measurement of “normal”) must hurdle bullying, hate, ignorance, disrespect, harassment and outright violence every day of their lives. That means special needs, race minorities; religious affiliations, sexual orientation and personal gender identity are triggers for hate crimes and extradition from the acceptance of the community. Including the denial of the most basic of human output—the use of a public toilet.

Here’s what I can tell you about the transgender person in the public restroom with you:

  •  They are in there to use the toilet. Just like you.
  •  They will lock their cubicle door because they are shy and modest. Just like you.
  •  They have no interest in what you’re doing in there, in fact, they are more afraid of you then you are of them. How do I know this? They are expecting your hate, judgment and harassment—as it is given to them so freely every day of their lives—and they are uncomfortable with the anticipation of it. They will do their business and get out in order to avoid you.
  •  Their safety is more at risk then yours. Do your homework, over 90% of rapists and pedophiles are married, white men. Not trans, not gay or lesbian or questioning, or anything else you don’t understand. There is absolutely no indication or burden of proof that laws allowing transgender or transsexual people to use the restroom they are most comfortable with will result in an increase in sexual perpetration. In fact, the opposite may be true. My 14-year-old daughter would be at risk for severe violence if she were forced to use a men’s room.
  •  It’s none of your business what the genitalia of the person in the cubicle next to you looks like. Genitalia are private. There are no gender checks, no DNA scans, and in most instances, you won’t even be able to tell who’s who.

As long as we have public conveniences, ANYONE should be able to use ANY public convenience, regardless of gender, race, or religion, provided that they are using it ONLY for its intended purpose. Trans are not deviants any more than a Muslim or Korean immigrant is. They are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, wives and husbands. They are all ages—including children. They live in all parts of the city, and are living their lives in all social circles and at all levels of financial success. Why not turn our community into a giant summer festival where the only trouble we have with a restroom is the line up?

portable toilets

Let’s invest our energies in an evolution that will support all walks of life. Let’s set an example for our children. Let’s stop the prejudice and stereotypes. Let’s just let a toilet be a toilet.

If you’re a ‘cis-woman’ and have ever used the empty men’s room to avoid an embarrasing accident, this bill in Florida, Texas, and Kentucky (if passed) will prohibit you from ever doing it again legally in those states. So resign yourself to this:

women's line

I’d also like to take a moment to clear something else up. Not every trans female looks and acts like Frank N Furter from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Some do, but most of them already hate themselves for it enough on their own—they don’t need your hate to feel bad about themselves. (Perhaps if they had been accepted by their families in their youth or not pressured into conversion therapies wasting years of their lives in confusion and denial, things may have been different for them.)

frank furter

I’m focusing on the children, which this bill and all that it stands for affects with its broad stroke. Amnesty International reported that, “In a recent nationwide survey, 74 per cent of Canadian transgender youth reported experiencing verbal harassment in school, and 37 per cent reported experiencing physical violence.”  Bullying is already a crime. Physical violence is already a crime. So who is getting away with the crime right now? And let’s take a look at how this will play out on the flipside. There’s so much talk about men dressing as women to get away with murder in a public toilet, how are all of these conservatives (read family action group types) going to feel when a trans man (born with a vagina) is in the ladies room with their young daughters? I mean, that’s what they want, that’s what they’re fighting for.

we just need to pee

But this is the reality. #WejustNeedtoPee. Most people you would never know anyway. These are just a few of the trans female faces of teens below. One of them is my daughter. Scary, right? I mean, seriously, you better hide your children from these delinquents. (sarcasm intended.) But imagine for one moment, these young girls in the men’s room.

the-real-deal

Also, I don’t want to sound like an alarmist, but some of these radical group members that are fighting for the right to segregation and prejudice are fabricating stories and/or quoting would be ‘experts’ and releasing them to the media in order to convince you of their cause. This infuriates me. It’s not just a twist of the truth, it’s a complete and total fabrication. They are ruining young lives (and in some instances ending them) for the sake of their crusade. Some media outlets no longer fact check their sensational journalism. But there are sites dedicated to fact checking stories like this, so please, if you hear of or read a story, make sure you cross-vet it with other sites and the parties involved before you form an opinion. Even a simple tweet can require verification.

Please, people, just stop for a moment, take a deep breath and remember… the earth used to be flat. Until it wasn’t.

Flush bigotry down the toilet where it belongs.

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FREE one-day conference for parents

Calling all parents in southern Ontario! Loading up on information is a great way to be the best parent you can be. And FREE information… well that’s just awesome! Come and learn how to arm yourself and your children with positive identities.

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To be a better parent, see yourself as a child.

The most common question I’m asked after appearing as a guest speaker for parents dealing with gender non-conforming youth, is “what one piece of advice could I give to parents that would help them begin to accept their child.”

child

Each time I’m asked this question, it’s like I’m being asked which end of the bull I would like to do battle with. I stare blankly back at the ask-er, and all coherent thought eludes me.

The truth is, I find this question quite troublesome. What kind of parent doesn’t accept their child as-is? And unfortunately, that immediate thought blocks out all others. (I excel in self-distractibility.) The trouble with being forthright with honesty is that I tend to offend. I’m the kind of gal that others refer to as… prickly. Not everyone can handle the truth.  And while I am learning how to make-nice and think of people’s feelings before I speak my truth (I still don’t think that should be my problem, however, I don’t make up these rules of engagement) in the end, I babble some feel-good jibber-jabber to confuse and distract, and then quickly move on to the next question.  

But everywhere I go—there it is. Like a dead albatross that I must wear for my crime of automatic acceptance. I have spent many a car-ride home contemplating a better response to this question.  One that is true, but also considerate. A philosophical conundrum for the passionately honest folk like myself. <ahem.>

After serious soul-searching, the only answer I’ve decided I can (or should) give is that which is true for me. Given my bedside manner (there’s a reason I’m not a therapist or social worker) I need to choose my advice wisely. 

My one piece of advice is actually two-fold. Appreciate life, and remember to see yourself as a child.  Most people don’t appreciate life the way that they should. It usually takes monumental adversity to scare-up the kind of appreciation for each moment of the day that you have available to love—and be loved.  Epiphanies can’t be taught.  Each person must find it for themselves.  And it must be practiced daily.  This kind of appreciation helps settle you. It directs your battles. It reduces fear, anger and frustration. If you are struggling with acceptance of who your child is, I encourage you to have an epiphany.  There are worse evils in the world that can be delivered to your doorstep.

Also remember that you are but a child yourself. As adults, we have wrapped ourselves in the glory of our own families and have forgotten the once upon a time of our youth.  The way in which you love your own children is the way that you are loved.  Denying it or not feeling your parents love does not constitute or guarantee its absence.  I may have grown up and become an adult and a parent, but I did not leave my youth behind as I might have thought.  It has been here, in me and around me, the entire time. The absolute truth of what I know is that your life is not a linear succession of milestones, but a vast circumference of love and memories.  I did not leave home and embark on my own life—home came with me.  Always and undeniably, I am but a child of my parents. 

baby hand

I have been lucky enough to have had several life-changing epiphanies.  Perhaps I didn’t get it the first few times—but you can read the one that stuck here.  With this understanding, I see parenting through the eyes of the mother AND the child.  Children look to their parents for comfort, nurture, safety, and acceptance. And if you love your children… you will swim the ocean, you will climb the mountain and you will go toe-to-toe with the boogeyman.

My advice is, go put your big boots on.

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