My husband and I were returning from a relaxing weekend in Santa Barbara wine country, and we stopped at a gas station. I bought a quick pick for PowerBall and MegaMillions and took a key that was attached to a broom (ok, half a broom stick) to the side of the convenience store to use the restroom. Imagine my horror and outrage when I see there is only a unisex restroom. I don’t know if a woman was last in there or a straight guy or god forbid a Mexican transgender kid who converted to Islam. But what could I do? I’m not Donald Trump who can afford to have others use the bathroom for him.
When nature calls, I have to answer, however inappropriate the time and place. So, after knocking and waiting for a response, I unlocked the door, went in, did my business, washed my hands, cursed whoever invented hand dryers, wiped my hands on my pants, used my shirtsleeve to open the door and returned the key to the clerk.
Did it really matter who had used the bathroom before me? Not so long as s/he flushed, it didn’t. But imagine if the restroom had a sign that said “Straights Only”. What if the owner of the store thought that gay people had germs that could be passed on to straight people and make them gay? I’m fairly sure that’s what Pat Robertson believes. So if he had a chain of quickie gas stations in Southern California, would it be ok for him to tell me I couldn’t use the bathroom? Under Religious Freedom Expression Acts, Pat Robertson would be able to keep me from using his bathroom. Imagine if the sign said “Whites Only” like old restroom signs across the South. Or”NO MUSLIMS ALLOWED” for fear that all followers of Islam are radical and just looking for an opportunity to plant a bomb somewhere? Some strong voices are shouting for laws in our nation that aren’t that far off.
But imagine instead where all restrooms are unisex and open to everyone.
- A son loves to take his mom shopping. She has dementia, and when she needs to use the restroom, he can take her into the bathroom and make sure that she remembers why she’s in there and what to do.
- You’ve really gotta go, and one restroom is being cleaned. You’re in luck because you can use the other one.
- Your son/daughter needs to use the restroom. You don’t have to struggle with the decision whether to take them in the restroom for your gender or his/hers?
- An elderly woman with a husband in a wheelchair is able to roll him into the handicapped stall and get him safely on the toilet.
- Women at a concert don’t have to queue up during the entire intermission because there are plenty of restrooms spaces available in the old men’s room.
- People who are transgender who have a 41% suicide attempt rate have one less stress in their lives.
I recognize that there are many laws that stand in the way of this ideal society. But let’s not put new ones in the way. This year many state legislatures will try to pass “No Men in Women’s Bathrooms”, laws that are targeted at the transgender community. Instead of trying to exclude people with our laws, let’s try to pass legislation that helps everyone. If I win the lottery this week, expect to see a sizable donation to the freedom to pee movement.
In the meantime, please follow me on facebook at brianpeytonjoyner.