After discovering that my laptop has some rudimentary video capabilities, I thought I'd spare ya'll the usual wall of text post and give you a long video. You get to see me in my usual form when I write posts in the process.
Three videos, though. Wall of Text "transcript" afterward.
And the brief end, inclusive of my being, well, my usual silly self:
I thought that for my column this time, I'd try something a little different from the usual "wall of text" that I'm somewhat known for producing and try a little bit of the dreaded multimedia thing.
Cue spooky music. Oh, wait, that's right, I can't do spooky music yet. Dang it. At least I've got my teleprompter...
As the title suggests, today's post is all about the wonders of ENDA.
Please call your Senators and tell them to vote for ENDA. Tell them if they aren't voting for ENDA, they are voting for making tens of millions of people suffer discrimination needlessly.
Now, I'm saying that as a good little girl. I'm saying that, even though I know at the same time that there's been some sort of change to the bill, and it deals with Trans people.
The things said in general have to do with various aspects of gender expression. Representative Frank said something about dresses and mustaches.
The thing that's most interesting, though is the little piece about that bugaboo of Trans lives: modesty spaces.
Modesty spaces are those segregated areas like showers, locker rooms, restrooms, and similar spaces where personal modesty -- and, in particular, American Modesty (cause us US culture types are seriously weird about these places) -- is at a premium.
There is another argument, and I'll cover it later, as I want to look at this bathroom thing right now. Especially since discussions like this are, in fact, talking about the risk that I, personally, pose to other women.
I was thinking about this whole bathroom thing, you see. I've put some thought into it, and about the only compromise that I can see being reached -- the one most likely to seem reasonable to Cis folk -- is to say that an employer gets to decide what restroom the trans employee will use.
Now, that might be a special restroom set aside for the use of the trans people. Now, this isn't the sort of thing like a "handicap" spot for those with some sort of disability, where the change is done on the benefit of the person singled out. Nor is it like the voluntary aspect of giving up a seat on the bus to a woman, or child, or senior citizen -- again, to the benefit of the person singled out. You see, in those cases, there is a need for such. A recognition that they have some sort of difficulty.
This is a special place set aside because the particular people make other people uncomfortable. Like folks who didn't want to drink water from the same fountain as people with darker skin, or use the same restrooms as people with darker skin.
But that will sound reasonable to people because to a lot of people the above was perfectly reasonable for decades.
A compromise like that would further single out the individuals working there, since it would likely be a kind of makeshift space. Hell, it might even be in a separate building, and require extra time and a reduction in productivity to be used.
It's been accepted before. Make no mistake, it will be accepted again.
Then there's another possible version of this: the employer could just say if you shake, you use the men's room. That is, if you have a penis, you use the men's room.
That's also the sort of thing that will seem very reasonable to many people who are cis. Indeed, it will seem like a perfectly reasonable request to a lot of people, unless, of course, they are the sort that you can see in front of you right now telling you this.
That kind of rule would have me go into the men's room.
Now, Let's say that happens at a place where I am employed. I'm an out activist, so odds are pretty good that the people I work with will have at least some idea of what's going on with me, even though I do not generally discuss my medical history with other people.
So, following the law as some are kinda hinting about it reading, an employer could comply without risk of being sued for discrimination on the basis of gender expression or identity by telling me to use the men's restroom.
Me. The person who earlier tonight went down the Walgreen's; a short, five minute walk away from here and a five minute walk back. Dressed and looking exactly as you see me now, with catcalls, honking, and even an offer to give me a ride to where ever it was I might be going.
It's important to recognize that, as well, because usually people think of some kind of stereotype when they talk about these things, and I am pretty close to a certain kind of stereotype. High Femme, and often it's said that people like gals like me because we somehow are "more feminine than other women" except they don't say "other" they say "real".
I'd pop my boobs out right now but I'd never live it down, lol.
Now let's really look at that. The idea of me going into the men's room.
I'd saunter in, and most likely be stopped or told to leave by several guys who would be either literally dribbling all over themselves or embarrassed and trying to cover it up (plus the inevitable one who would say something stupid and wave his winkie at me). I'd hear comments about my breasts, probably hear one or two muttered "faggot"s now and then, and then I'd likely have to deal with a few people who actually would try to sneak a photo to share later online of the "chick with a dick" by sliding phones under the stall or peeking through the door and so forth.
And while it would be nice to think that it's just the young ones who do that, I'm afraid it isn't. It's the older ones, as well.
To be fair, there would also be the few who just ignore it all and pretend like nothing is happening, and then the occasional one who would tell the others to stop being assholes and maybe one who would even guard my modesty.
Now, that wouldn't end there, either. Outside the bathroom, there'd be conversation, jokes, comments, sly glaces and grins, and the assorted other stuff that happens in places where people get uncomfortable about someone in their midst or something going on. Of course, always out of sight of the boss, who would be utterly innocent of all possible stuff except for the fact he let's it go on.
And then there's me. The sort of gal who does a pretty damn good job at her work, and who also has, shall we say, a certain level of ability in making her thoughts and displeasure known even in the face of people who will use social power dynamics against her.
(Flashes a smile)
What do you think I'm going to do in an environment like that? Especially given I've got medical costs to pay for. In large sums.
Why, I'll sue for a hostile work environment, of course. Completely separate from the provisions of ENDA. And with the ability to actually get damages (since ENDA does not allow one to sue for damages). As in a lot of money. Given court costs and legal expenses, probably something in the neighborhood of half a million.
And make no mistake, the sort of stuff I described above is, in fact, a hostile work environment.
Now, a lot of trans people are arguing that we need to see the language, and that ENDA could be bad for us, and all the rest. And I am among those people, but I'm starting to change my mind about that, because the more I think about the potential for such a wonderful thing happening (that is, my suing a company for a hostile work environment and getting the funding I need to pay for some medical stuff), the more I kinda like it.
Indeed, the more I think it's a lot like something else I'm working on: a business that hires only gender variant people. Because it is not illegal to do so. Nor will it be, even if ENDA passes, since ENDA only applies to those companies with 15 or more employees, and the places I would do such a thing are strictly those without any sort of gender expression or identity laws.
So think about that exception idea -- that "bathroom compromise". Because the company you work for may suddenly find itself facing lots of lawsuits for the creation of a hostile work environment by following the law -- which would mean that the law is, itself, actually responsible for the creation of that hostile work environment by enabling the continued discrimination and hostility that is faced by trans people already.
Which kinda makes me wonder just how useful that "compromise" really is.
And the answer is a lot more useful than people may realize...