Guest Blogger

Maryland Legislators Leave Trans* Citizens Afraid To Pee

Filed By Guest Blogger | March 15, 2013 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: bathroom bill, Maryland, public accommodations, trans*, transition

Editor's Note: Guest Blogger Del Tashlin is a sex educator, author, and blogger who lives in Suburban Maryland. He does activism work for the fat, LGBT, polyamory, pagan, and disabled communities, of which he's also a member.

gender-inequality.jpgAs you may have heard, the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee of the Maryland Senate voted down Senate Bill 449, the "Fairness for all Marylanders Act of 2013", six votes to five on Thursday. I am deeply saddened that my own representative, Christopher Shank, was one of those who voted against it.

Reports are saying that everyone seemed to be okay with protections in employment and housing, but it was the public accommodations clause that caused the bill to die in committee.

Does it even bear mentioning that already such protections are afforded transgender people who live in Baltimore, Howard, and Montgomery Counties, as well as Baltimore City, but not to those who live elsewhere in the state? Is it worth noting that the representative from Baltimore County was one of the down votes?

That makes no sense to me at all; it's okay for transgender people to access public accommodations in Baltimore County, but not in the rest of the state?

The reason "public accommodations" is such a sticky wicket is because our culture equates gender segregation with safety. Somehow, if men and women had to use the same restroom facilities, it would be a great threat to the public.

And of course, the old trope of "what if a man puts on a dress and hides in a women's area, waiting to rape someone" was trotted out like the whore it is, even though there are no reports of such attacks happening. In particular, there are no reports one can point to of places where public accommodations discrimination has been lifted seeing any sort of spike in such attacks.

It's a straw man argument, tarted up each and every time I want to pee.

See, this is the simple truth of it. Because I do not appear wholly female or wholly male, no matter which bathroom I choose, I am in danger. Other than asking for masculine pronouns and dressing in a masculine manner, I have no other indicators of being a man or a woman. I have only just started hormones, and there are no effects to show for it yet.

If I choose a women's room, and someone sees my budding facial hair or my bound chest, they will scream and beat me with purses, shocked that I would violate their pink temple of safety. Resolute, I try to use the stall in a men's bathroom, but if I forget and accidentally open my mouth, allowing my high-timbre'd voice to emerge, I am tossing the dice as to whether they will chalk it up to confusion, push me brusquely, or just beat me up for being an interloper.

In either case, I still haven't been able to pee.

It seems like such a minor thing, right? The right to engage in bodily functions that we only have a modicum of control over. I have been told I can only use the "family" or "handicap" restrooms, which if you haven't noticed, aren't nearly as plentiful or ubiquitous as people may think.

Frequently, I will hold my urine until I know I am in a safe place; if it's bad, I will have whatever gender friends I happen to be with, check and make sure the restroom is clear, so I can run in and take care of business, and run back out, before anyone notices me.

And yet, from childhood, we're raised in houses where unisex bathrooms are the norm. Maybe your mom walks in while your dad showers, either to use the toilet or even just do her hair. For that matter, how many times are toddlers of the opposite sex ushered into a bathroom because they're with a single parent and they can't leave them alone?

Honestly, how many adults, upon finding a unisex or non-gendered bathroom, decide to hold their bodily functions until they can bask in the safety of a single-sexed bathroom? None, I'm willing to bet.

As my transition progresses, it will only get worse. When I am covered in body hair, and a beard, but without a penis, where shall I change and be safe? What if my voice never lowers, but I decide to get a phallioplasty; do I risk using a urinal, or do I pee standing up in the women's room?

It galls me that something we take for granted, is something we have to have voted upon by our legistlature.

I almost want to call for all trans* identified Marylanders and their allies take to peeing in public, and when people or police accost you, tell them that until you know everyone is safe to pee in a public bathroom, you're not going to use a single-sexed facility. I'm sure something would change right quick then.

Shame on the following state senators, for voting against such accommodations:

Senator Norman Stone (D-Baltimore County,)
James Senate Office Building, Room 216
11 Bladen St., Annapolis, MD 21401
(410) 841-3587, (301) 858-3587
1-800-492-7122, ext. 3587 (toll free)
fax: (410) 841-3218, (301) 858-3218

Senator C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George's County,)
James Senate Office Building, Room 304
11 Bladen St., Annapolis, MD 21401
(410) 841-3092, (301) 858-3092
1-800-492-7122, ext. 3092 (toll free)
fax: (410) 841-3410, (301) 858-3410

Senator Nancy Jacobs (R-Cecil and Harford Counties,)
James Senate Office Building, Room 323
11 Bladen St., Annapolis, MD 21401
(410) 841-3158, (301) 858-3158
1-800-492-7122, ext. 3158 (toll free)
fax: (410) 841-3400, (301) 858-3400

Senator James Brochin (D-Baltimore County,)
James Senate Office Building, Room 221
11 Bladen St., Annapolis, MD 21401
(410) 841-3648, (301) 858-3648
1-800-492-7122, ext. 3648 (toll free)
fax: (410) 841-3643, (301) 858-3643

Senator Christopher Shank (R-Washington County)
James Senate Office Building, Room 402 (for Jan. 2012, temporarily in Room 311)
11 Bladen St., Annapolis, MD 21401
(410) 841-3903, (301) 858-3903
1-800-492-7122, ext. 3903 (toll free)
fax: (410) 841-3940, (301) 858-3940

Senator Joseph Getty (R-Baltimore and Carroll Counties)
James Senate Office Building, Room 401 (for Jan. 2012, temporarily in Room 317)
11 Bladen St., Annapolis, MD 21401
(410) 841-3683, (301) 858-3683
1-800-492-7122, ext. 3683 (toll free)
fax: (410) 841-3569, (301) 858-3569

I highly encourage you to email them and ask them where I, you, and the rest of the transgender Marylanders and their allies are supposed to pee in the meantime.

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