I, like a lot of people, heard about Target’s decision to have inclusive bathrooms and thought, about time! But then I saw that more than half a million people are boycotting Target and I was angry that so may people couldn’t understand the true danger and fear trans people (and alternately gendered people – people who maybe don’t look exactly like their gender and often are mistaken for the opposite sex) face when using public restrooms. I was angry for my friends who have faced their own issues in simply trying to use the bathroom in public. Angry for my friend ‘Mike’ who had been sexually assaulted in a public bathroom while transitioning from female to male. Angry for my friend ‘Tina’ because she looks more male than female and has been shamed and even escorted out of the women’s restroom before. I didn’t understand that the people who are upset about this decision aren’t worried about my friends. They’re worried about so much more…
See, we live in a time where we don’t talk to the people around us anymore.
We live in a time where neighbors feel more comfortable calling animal control about a barking dog than simply knocking on their neighbor’s door.
We live in a time where there is a real fear of gunmen in public places.
We live in a time where our children aren’t just doing earthquake drills; they’re doing active shooter drills.
We live in a time where we are so disconnected from the people around us that going out to dinner often means sitting at the same table, but everyone staying on their cell phones instead of talking.
We live in a time where one in three women are sexually assaulted in their lifetime; and, one in seven men.
We live in a time where one in two transgender people are sexually assaulted in their lifetime.
It’s a scary time.
It’s easier for people who are scared to isolate something they feel they can change (who gets to use a restroom) than face that which they feel the can not (the fact that we live in a scary, scary time).
So I’m sorry. When I first heard about Target and what was going on, I immediately focused on my friends and completely ignored the people who truly are scared.
So to you all – to everyone who is scared about what this decision means and are truly concerned about what could happen to your families, your children, your sisters, brothers, friends, neighbors…talk about it.
Don’t hold it against transgender people that you’re scared. You have a right to be scared – but you have to realize what you are truly scared of.
See, you’re thinking right now about the cases of people dressing as women to enter public bathrooms to commit heinous crimes, but those aren’t trans people. Those were sexual predators. Criminals.
And the truth is, most sexual crimes aren’t even perpetrated by strangers in public places – most are perpetrated by people we call ‘neighbor’, ‘friend’, ‘dad’, ‘auntie’.
So while it might be easier for us to hide behind our screens and argue on Facebook or some other social media, things aren’t going to change until we start actually talking about what’s going on.
If you are scared, I’m here to listen to you. I want to talk to you. I want you to feel as if you have a voice – but, I want you to truly think about what it is you are afraid of. Think about it and then talk to someone about addressing it or what you’ll need to do to feel less fearful.
Because it isn’t transgender individuals you’re truly scared of – it’s the fact that we live in a time that is so uncertain that hiding behind our devices truly feels like the only safe way to live.