Home Social Justice Opinion: Battle of the Bathroom

Opinion: Battle of the Bathroom

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A Planet Fitness in Midland, Michigan has drawn media attention after one member, Yvette Cormier, lost her membership after she complained about a transgendered woman in the women’s restroom. Rather than being an isolated incident, this story illuminates a deeper trend in society; transgendered people are being harassed and even assaulted for using the bathroom based on the gender they identify as rather than the one they happened to be born with.

According to WNEM, Cormier entered the bathroom and was quoted as saying, “I was stunned and shocked. He looked like a man. He did not look like a woman.” Being stunned or shocked happens when one experiences or sees something that makes them uncomfortable, that makes their gut turn. People who have a problem with trans people using the bathroom of their gender is not because of some kind of moral or ethical code instead it is because of some primal disgust with what is in front of them.

People who hold negative sentiment towards trans people have that because of their initial reaction towards how they look and then only afterwards applying psuedo-rational narrative on it. I have no qualms saying these people are unevolved and backwards even with the heavy connotations attached to those words. We live in the 21st century in what is purported to be the most free country in the world. That America, the beacon of hope, the mother of exiles for all the yearning masses around the world can’t handle each other’s bodies is not just sad, it’s pathetic.

In the same WNEM article, it stated that, “[Cormier’s] concern now is to warn other women at the gym to make them aware of the policy, because she said Planet Fitness failed to warn her.” A warning is used to alert one of a threat, the language used here, whether intentional or not, indicates trans persons as a threat instead of being human beings that deserve the same respect and value as non-trans people.

It’s not just people in the bathrooms who are causing problems for trans people, but states are also jumping on the bullying bandwagon. According to the ACLU, “A bill moved forward in a Florida House committee that would make it a crime to use a restroom that does not match the sex listed on a person’s birth certificate or other government-issued identification.”

When one considers, “The bathroom [as] the start of trans people experiencing violence out in the world” as does Drian Juarez, of the LA LGBT Center, then it becomes clear that the bathroom has really become the battleground for trans rights in the union. As other queer rights move forward across the country, with 37 states that have already legalized same-sex marriage, it seems that trans rights have been put on the backburner.

With 41 percent of trans people reporting that they have attempted to take their own life, this is not an issue where we can let our emotions cloud our judgment for lives at stake. While conservatives may claim that these statistics show why being transgendered is wrong, it’s not being trans that makes people want to commit suicide but being trans in this society is making people want to commit suicide. That if we really want to battle the problem of suicide in the trans community we need to start talking about the forces in society that are causing these people so much suffering that they wish to end their life.

It becomes less about what side of the aisle you are on and more about whether you have any common decency left for a people who have been battered for an age and are begging for acceptance in this supposedly tolerant world. We can’t continue galavanting around the world screaming that America is the home of the free and the brave when our brave citizens cower at the sight of something unfamiliar to them.

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