A Bathroom Issue? Considering the Options for Transgender People in Restrooms

kate bornsteinDeja Nicole Greenlaw
deja nicole greenlaw

Deja Nicole Greenlaw

By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw*/TRT Columnist—

In the quest for trans rights, one of the alleged issues is the bathroom. Opponents claim that they don’t want transwomen in the women’s room because they say that transwomen are not really women. The opponents usually follow that thought with all kinds of imagined scenarios of ciswomen (women who are not transwomen) being in grave danger because there are transwomen in the bathroom.

This is all nonsense and unfounded. First of all, a transwoman is a woman, and second, to my knowledge, there has never been an incident where a transwoman endangered a ciswoman in the bathroom. The fact is that transwomen have been using the women’s room for years and there have been no incidents. Opponents then shift their reasoning to saying that if a law was passed, then any man could take advantage of the law and dress up as a woman and harass the women in the women’s room. Again, this is nonsense and unfounded. There are over a dozen states with laws that give transwomen the right to use the women’s room, and in these states, to my knowledge, there has not been one incident of a man taking advantage of the law by dressing up as a woman and harassing the women in the women’s room. [pullquote]There are over a dozen states with laws that give transwomen the right to use the women’s room, and in these states, to my knowledge, there has not been one incident of a man taking advantage of the law by dressing up as a woman and harassing the women in the women’s room.[/pullquote]

Nevertheless, there are still folks out there who are against transwomen using the women’s room. I cannot truly say why this is an issue for them because I am not one of them. Only they can speak for themselves. I can only listen to their reasoning on this issue, and frankly, I don’t see any valid reasoning at all.

Let’s just imagine for a minute or two that somehow there was a law that stated transwomen could not legally use the women’s room. Now where do the transwomen go? What is their option? Their only option is then to use the men’s room. Let’s keep on imagining this scenario. There’s this bathroom full of men and a transwoman comes in. How are these men going to feel about a transwoman sharing their bathroom? I don’t know for sure how they will feel, but I can imagine that they would probably feel a bit uncomfortable. Perhaps some of the men might take issue with the transwoman and maybe bully and/or pick a fight with the transwoman. This would endanger the transwoman. Another scenario to consider is the father who is in the men’s room with his young son. What will dad say when his son asks why there’s a woman in the men’s room? Yes, I am creating scenarios, but these would most likely be realistic situations.

If the law states that transwomen have to use the men’s room then, to be fair, the law would imply that transmen have to use the women’s room. Now picture what the ciswomen would think about that! Most, if not all, of the transmen that I know look totally male. Many have beards and low voices and you would never guess that they were trans at all. Still, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, so transmen would have to use the women’s room. Now the ciswomen would have to deal with transmen in the women’s room. A mom might take her young daughter into the women’s room and her daughter might ask why there are men in the women’s room. What will the mom say? You could imagine all kinds of possible scenarios. The scenario that I find the most disturbing is the one where any cisman could pretend that he is a transman and could proceed to use the women’s room. He wouldn’t even have to dress in women’s clothing to do this. Now ask yourself why a man would want to use the women’s room in the first place. You have to think that this man is up to no good.

If you really think about it, it makes sense for transwomen to use the women’s room and transmen to use the men’s room as we have been doing for years. Any other way could be trouble for all.

*Deja Nicole Greenlaw is a local transwoman who has three grown children and works at 3M. She can be contacted at dejavudeja@sbcglobal.net.


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6 Comments on "A Bathroom Issue? Considering the Options for Transgender People in Restrooms"

  1. Allow me to offer some supporting data, recently published by Media Matters.

    Experts in 12 states — including law enforcement officials, government employees, and advocates for victims of sexual assault — have debunked the right-wing myth that sexual predators will exploit transgender non-discrimination laws to sneak into women’s restrooms, calling the myth baseless and “beyond specious.”


  2. I completely agree. This is the exact same argument I’ve been using all along. If women don’t want transwomen in the women’s room, then they’re necessarily going to have to have transmen in there, which, as noted, are people with beards, deep voices, and high T levels. The truth is that people don’t want this. It’d make it WAY too easy for a cisman to masquerade as a transman and just waltz right in. At least if we place trans people with their gender identity, the bar will be higher.

    Though, this also brings up 2 more questions. 1) What about nonbinary trans people? and 2) Some people who don’t want transwomen in the women’s room might want all trans people to use a gender neutral restroom. I don’t know about other places, but I live in south Texas and there’s almost no gender neutral restrooms down here, and I really don’t think they’d want to burden businesses in such a manner (though I’ve been wrong before).

    In addition to all that, if a trans person passes, why should they have to out themselves just to use the bathroom? As a 100% passable transwoman (with my ID updated), I always use the women’s room. I don’t have any problems at all. I can talk to people and go on about my normal life and nobody even knows I’m trans. In fact, even if somebody who knew me before called the cops, what’s going to happen? Probably not much. My ID says female, which I’m sure is enough for any sane officer to dismiss the incident as total nonsense. If I were suddenly forced to use the men’s room, it wouldn’t be pretty. First, I’d avoid using public restrooms if at all possible. If I did use public restrooms, I’d have to out myself, which as you said, would open me up to violence in and of itself. As sad as it is, the biggest protection in public spaces on an individual level (that is, disregarding laws and things since they *can* be broken) that trans people have is passing. If you pass, the world sees you as the correct gender and it’s a wonderful thing. If you don’t, though, it’s a big deal. They don’t call it “passing privilege” for nothing.

  3. Cool article with some good talking points and counter arguments! Thank you.

    FYI: I used to use the term “transwoman” like you do. However, that implies that a “transwoman” is different than a “woman”. In the future, you might consider adding a space between “trans” (or “transgender”) and “woman” — just like there would be a space between “cisgender woman” or “Caucasian woman” or “young woman” or “old woman”. Running the two words together creates something that is not a woman and serves to differentiate and isolate us from cisgender women, which I presume is not your intent.


  4. Natalie Eva | April 5, 2014 at 9:49 pm |

    It’s a very well done article and I agree with everything, of course. I do have one humble suggestion, and feel free to ignore me completely, ms. Greenlaw. “trans woman”, instead of “transwoman”? The second way might give fodder to those who would assert that trans women are not really women, but that we are just either delusional or pervy men. I am by no means certain of this, but it seams possible. If my argument against writing it as one word is casuistry, please tell me.

    • Natalie Eva | April 5, 2014 at 9:56 pm |

      Sorry, I should read my comments before posting! I don’t mean that I’m not sure if we as trans women are men, we are not men, I ment that i was unsure if writing it as one word could give fodder to transmisogynistic people. Sorry, the way I wrote it makes it seem like I was saying I was unsure weather or not transphobes were right! Of course transphobes are not right. We are not delusional, nor are we pervy men. Sorry, I am really bad at conveying thoughts!

  5. well I was out by a woman when I was trying to have a bra fit I am on HRT the woman had two of her daughter with her and they saw me in there and call the cops saying that there is a man in the ladies dressing room well I did six hours in jail and was 86 from that mall no charges were giving this was in 1996 and I still don’t know what I did that I was hold for six hours for

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