I’m going to be honest: it’s because I’m angry, and I’m tired.
This anger has been bubbling for years. Did you know that I can prevent myself from peeing for nine hours at a time? I know, because I did it every day for four years when I was in high school. Skipping breakfast and not eating lunch helps, though you’ll have a harder time paying attention in classes, having conversations, and you’ll be slightly angry all of the time. The bathroom for me, a nonbinary person, was somewhere I was explicitly not allowed to go—it says right there on the sign. In high school, I had nowhere to have a moment’s respite from the busy halls, nowhere to sit and cry when overwhelmed, nowhere to fix my outfit or hair if it got messed up. Sure, technically I *could* have used a gendered bathroom, if I looked enough like a cisgender boy or cisgender girl to use one without getting strange looks, or questioned, or harassed, or attacked. But the choice was between looking cisgender and having the illustrious privilege of being able to shit in a dirty gray rectangle with slurs scrawled on the walls, and looking like myself. And it’s not easy to forget you don’t look like yourself in a room full of mirrors. Really, that gendered bathroom sign to me may as well read “ABANDON ALL HOPE, YE WHO ENTER HERE.” I’d prefer that, actually. Then, at least, it’d have a bit of camp.
Bathrooms are a recurring motif in my nightmares.
This last week has been tiring. It’s such a little thing. A square of plastic. Yet people will pay to keep it in place, and it’s illegal to take it down. It’s *illegal* to *not* misgender me. And sure, we could just ignore it, make the bathrooms *socially* all-gender even if *legally* they can’t be. But I don’t have nightmares about getting lost in a labyrinthine public toilet because I wasn’t able to share a bathroom with all of you. There is still a sign hanging there that says I don’t have a place here—that I don’t even exist in the first place. I have been told that I don’t have a place here, that I don’t even exist, every single day of my life.
I’m tired. And I’m angry. And I’m tired. So I’m checking out: I haven’t been to any of the discussions with administration about this, because the conversation really boils down to “look, WE know you exist, but it’s just really inconvenient for us so we have to continue to publicly pretend that you don’t.” Weren’t pride parades originally something about not keeping your queerness behind closed doors at a time when it was illegal to be publicly queer? But that’s long past: now pride is about rainbows, and about showing how LGBT+ friendly you are, #loveislove! It’s about being visibly queer out in that street, just as long as you don’t come near our bathrooms, you pervert! It’s about consistently ranking in the list of most LGBT+ friendly colleges, and pride flags in the dining hall! All this talk about our software Jenzabar putting students’ deadnames on class rosters, and publicly reporting our student body makeup by “legal sex” to show how “gender balanced” we are, and this stuff about bathrooms, all that’s just talk. We’re accepting! We promise!
I’ll save us both some time, then: that’s not a conversation I’m going to have with you. If you can’t take five minutes out of your day to remove a piece of plastic from a wall, then you don’t deserve to have five minutes out of mine so I can listen to you try and convince me of how good a person you are, actually. It’s not that complicated: gendered bathrooms prevent trans people from existing in public. That’s wrong. And after more than 20 years of being told I don’t exist every single day of my life, I don’t have the energy to argue that with you. Though I may be tempted, because you get angry when you’ve been holding it in for this long.