First, let me acknowledge that North Carolina’s HB2 is about
much more than who uses which bathroom. This
legislation is hateful and invidious. It
arose because the city of Charlotte enacted a non-discrimination clause on
behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered persons. Among other
things, it gave LGBTs legal protection and gave them the right to sue for
discrimination. Like Missouri, North
Carolina law does not protect LGBT persons or give them legal standing.
I regret that the publicity surrounding the North Carolina
legislation has focused on the “bathroom issue.” But let me talk about that. On its face, the law bars transgendered
persons from using the bathroom in which they feel most comfortable. Let me share
my take on this.
But first, a long digression. (You knew that was coming, didn’t you? if you
have followed my writings.)
I’m female. Always
have been and never wanted anything different.
I also have a rather androgynous appearance, probably due to my Dad’s
genes. Thank God, I didn’t seem to
inherit many of my mother’s genes, which were characterized by short,
overweight women prone to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Instead, I seem
to have inherited the genes from my father, which gave me his height, body
type, the health and longevity that are a gift to the Fox family, and even my
Dad’s gait. Most of my paternal
forebears seem to die healthy and old.
They are a blessing to me.
Not a blessing are the fact that I
inherited my father’s features, body type, and big ears.
I remember a day when I was about 12 years old walking along
Main Street in my little town of 5,000.
I became aware that some old guy was following me. I slowed down. He slowed down. I sped up.
He sped up. I ducked into one of
the shops, where I was known and would be safe.
The dude followed me. As soon as I
got inside, he said, “You’re Ralph’s daughter, aren’t you?” I stammered assent. He had not been stalking me. He had just spotted me as Ralph’s daughter
and wanted some sort of conversation … the gist of which I can’t remember after
all these years. But I remember asking
him, “How did you know I was Ralph’s daughter?”
He said something like, “Nobody else walks like that.”
So there you have it.
I’m Ralph’s daughter. I have his
carriage and – God help me! – his physiognomy, too. And I wear jeans or tailored slacks all the
time. It’s been several years since I wore a skirt or dress.
As an adult female, bathrooms have often posed a problem for
me. I can’t tell you how often this has
happened to me. I go into the women’s
bathroom, of course. As I walk in, I see
women look around in terror, who then leave as quickly as they can. Or I’m
washing my hands in the sink. Another woman comes out of a stall, heading
toward the sink, and she flees the bathroom.
I know what they’re thinking. They think a male has entered their precious
And here’s the crazy thing: I feel shamed! I feel
totally embarrassed! My very female presence has caused them fright. I hate
It happened again at our last diocesan convention. I was washing my hands. A woman who knows me slightly popped in, saw me, and reacted in horror, then went out. I'm sure she went to check the sign on the door. She came in again, saw me again, and reacted in horror. Both times, I said, "Kxx, it's me. You're in the right restroom." Both times she fled. On the third time, I turned to face her fully, she recognized me, and it was ok.
But you know what? It was NOT ok! I was withering with shame. Shame that she had mistaken me for a male. Shame that she saw me as "out of place."
At work, we have a couple of bathrooms that aren’t gender
specific. Those are the only ones I use.
Not because I’m transgender. Just because I don’t want to frighten the
At the Episcopal Church General Convention, during a break,
I needed to find a bathroom, and the line was long at the women’s
bathroom. I went wandering around and
came upon a bathroom marked “Transgender.”
Our Church had pasted that label over the Convention Center’s
label. I went in there, knowing it would
be okay. As it happened, I was there alone.
But I felt great relief knowing no one would hassle me, no one would look
askance, no one would flee, no one would make me feel ashamed because I didn’t
conform to their views of “male” and “female.”
Dear transgender friends, I want you to have a restroom in
which you can feel safe. But know there
are others of us, who don’t conform to the stereotypes, who will also welcome those
bathrooms as safe spaces.