A lot of people have come to me to talk about the current headlines around trans people and bathrooms at Target and the awful law in North Carolina. I know it’s because they don’t 100% understand the conversation or even what being trans is. They see the remarks and think “I don’t care” but deep down something doesn’t feel right. They know there’s something wrong here but they don’t know what to do or say.
I recognize that my role, at this point, is education. The media can only do so much. While Caitlin Jenner brought transitioning – the act of changing gender from one to another – she did very little as far as bringing awareness to the issues and situations trans people experience. In reality – that’s fair. She didn’t actually have a lot of the experiences of the average trans teen.
Her family is educated enough (let’s not argue that, not the point) to understand what trans is and financially stable enough to pursue therapy and help if they needed to work through feelings. She is wealthy, so the surgeries and body identity issues were short lived throughout her transition unlike the thousands of trans people who have to find any way to get money to begin seeing their body the way they know it should be.
My point here is not to shame Caitlin Jenner at all. I think she has helped this community tremendously, even if it was on a surface level. My point is that the conversation right now about toilets is oversimplified. Trans people are consistently discriminated against. It is not unconscious bias. They are not given the same access to healthcare, education and jobs than cisgender people (aka people who were born in the gender they feel they are).
The data shows the consequences of our society’s understanding – or lack thereof. We aren’t talking about the fact that 78% of trans people have attempted suicide. 72 percent of victims of anti-LGBT homicide were transgender women. I can keep going.
But that’s not the topic of conversation right now, especially in many small town, small-minded communities. Instead, I see all of these people talking about “double standards” and how “this has just never been done before.” How trans people are pedophiles. Fun fact, asshole, more GOP lawmakers have been arrested for sexual misconduct in bathrooms than trans people. And GOP lawmakers make up less than 1% of our population while trans people are about 3%. Statistically, you’re more likely to get assaulted if you use a bathroom with a Republican than you are a trans person. Yeah, chew on that one.
Actually don’t. You’re in the bathroom. Ew.
See, in talking about this with my friend Matt Charney – he made a great point. The number one rule in any bathroom is “don’t look at anyone else’s junk.” Eyes to yourself and make it quick. Bathrooms are so gross. Why does it matter who decides to punish themselves by using the public potty next to us? I’ve been in enough public restrooms to tell you, there are a lot of things scarier than a trans person using the toilet next to you.
I’d include the following:
- No toilet paper. I’m just not a fan of the drip dry. It’s not like camping when you’re wearing your bar clothes. It’s just not.
- Mystery stains on the toilet seat. Poop or otherwise.
- Pubic hair on the seat. I mean, first of all – why is it so long? Then, you try to blow it away but don’t see where it went and you know it’s probably on you. That’s worth the panic.
- Piss, shit and/or vomit on the floor in approach of the toilet. You just know it was on the toilet seat at one point and no toilet seat cover will make you feel better about it.
- The lights turning off mid poop because you’ve been sitting there too long and the motion sensor can’t find you in the stall.
- No door on the stall and no lock on the entry door. Should you wing it and risk someone seeing your private parts?
- Gas station bathrooms where you have to go outside and around the building in the pitch black. Have you ever been in one that didn’t look like a heroin den? I’d bet not.
- A kid with poop on their hands coming in for a hug.
- Someone touching your foot with their foot under the stall to ask for toilet paper. Speak up, dude.
- The sound of crying and pooping at the same time.
- Trying to do a courtesy flush and feeling cold water on your regions.
- Sitting down on a toilet with the seat up in the middle of the night.
- A used tampon stuck to… well, anything.
- Any airplane bathroom.
Ok go for it. What’s scarier than a #TransToilet?
Shoutout to two of my very best friends for their contributions to this list and the inspiration. You know who you are.
Katrina Kibben is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Three Ears Media. For most of Katrina’s career, she has been a marketer living in a recruiter’s world – listening to both sides of the talent equation to understand the real issues and find solutions for engaging and hiring better people. Today, she uses her technical marketing know-how and way with words to help both established and emerging brands develop and deliver content that fuels smart recruitment marketing that makes the right people apply.
Katrina has written for Monster.com, HR.com, RecruitingDaily and many other digital publications. She is a recognized leader in recruiting and employer branding who speaks regularly at conferences around the world.