Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Philosophy in the Bathroom

Sometimes it helps to take a step back and consider the premises driving public life. Especially in America, where no one can ever speak the truth without endangering their ever diminishing career prospects. As I don't have a career to speak of, I can speak any truth that happens across my radar - namely that the current trans-panic over restrooms and other facilities is driven by delusion.

Hands up, all of you who have used a public toilet designated for the opposite sex. And that should be everyone reading this who isn't a Mormon as there is a time honored tradition of practicality trumping propriety in the dive bars of this Great Nation. I know I'm not the only one to skip the line for the Men's room and go into the unoccupied Lady's when I've had a couple beers and you're lying right now if you say you haven't. Or you're really boring.

But that's admittedly a low bar as so many bars don't differentiate their two restrooms that much. Some places just have two identical closets with a single toilet, a sink, and usually a lock on the door. The more economical establishments will have a single head, with men and women using it without any anxiety.

A large public restroom is another issue entirely - or it is if you never ask why that's so. Gentlemen, do you worry a trasman might check out your junk at the urinal? How is that any different from every other time you've taken a piss in public? Maybe I haven't seen every possible layout but in my experience there ain't a whole lot of space between those things.

The same question holds for the women who worry about a transwoman primping in front of the mirror with the rest of them. How is it different from the norm? And how could you tell anyway, check to see who pees standing up? That might say more about you than you're ready to admit...

This fear of boy's in the girl's room and girl's in the men's room loses whatever flimsy rationalization it had once you account for homosexual desire. Getting back to urinals, a dude can easily check out another dude - if he's a creeper - and no state legislatures are fretting over that scenario. If the legislators themselves are any indication, it's already a common occurrence.

Which brings us to the subject of high school locker rooms, and all the Victorian malakas begging us to think of the children. Does a transgirl's right to use her preferred room trump a cis-girl's right to not potentially see a penis? I didn't know teenage girls were in the habit of going commando in front of each other enough for this to be an issue, which is probably why it's phrased much more vaguely. "What if it makes the other kids uncomfortable?" ask people who have clearly forgotten what it's like to be a teenager.

You know what else can make kids uncomfortable in a locker room? Everything! From body image problems to the still socially normative homophobia to just wearing the wrong brand of sneakers, kids will never feel safe around each other. That's a reality every American over the age of fourteen has experienced first-hand, and yet it never enters this conversation.

So what's the solution? You could just not give a flaming toss - that's my view and the view of everyone else with more important things to worry about, like a paycheck or utility bills. A law restricting your access to a toilet by what it says on your birth certificate is less enforceable than SOPA, so go forth and crap freely. And if you're really that invested in the anatomy of the person in the stall next to you, you have problems no state laws could ever fix.

UPDATE (04-16-16)

 Predictably, one of the men responsible for the bathroom bill has been creeping on thirty-four women. Jeremy Durham joins Larry Craig and Mark Foley in the august collection of Republicans who personally need legislation to keep it in their pants.

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