This post is from ages ago. Every so often something happens that makes me remember, “Oh, I really need to get around to posting that,” but until now I just never got it done.
The government of North Carolina and its ilk have made this extremely topical, however it is important to remember that the post is old.
Trans* people hadn’t yet been turned into the bogey men of the day, after the fight against marriage equality failed, when it was written. As such, when the post mentions legislation it’s not talking about the anti-trans* bathroom bills of today, it’s talking about then-current attempts to protect trans* people trying to use the bathroom. Such attempts tended to be met with outrage and opposition, but I don’t have any stats on how prevalent that tendency was.
(Written anonymously, edited and posted by chris the cynic)
A Place to Shit
This is an important matter so we shouldn’t mince words. It’s about shitting. Always and forever, beginning to end, it’s about shit. When people talk about who can use which bathrooms, they’re talking about shitting. They might also mention changing rooms or communal showers, just to throw you off, but it’s about shitting.
It isn’t about conservative family values or liberal human rights, it isn’t about traditional gender roles or celebrating diversity, it isn’t about protecting children, it isn’t about religion, it isn’t about equal protection, it isn’t about constitutional rights, or original intent, or what the founding fathers would say– it is about who should be required by law to take a dump in their clothes.
Some of the people who are on my side in this fight disagree with some of what I just said. They’ll claim, for example, that it is about equal protection under the law as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. They’re wrong. It’s about shit.
In all but the most built up areas or most controlled environments, most people can usually find a place to pee. It may be disgusting –it may be illegal– but you find a place where no one’s looking, squat, do the deed, and the problem is solved. Pooping is different.
It generally takes longer, leaves behind more than a puddle or wet spot, smells worse, and leaves you in need of cleaning (wipe or wash, I won’t judge, but you’ve got to do something.)
Let me tell you a true story.
[Editor’s note] While some changes have been made to protect anonymity, none of the facts of the story have been changed. What follows is what happened to the author, just not always in the words she would normally use to describe the events in question. [/editor’s note]
I’m stopped at a McDonald’s near the beginning of my commute. I’m eating my regular and feeling kind of bad about the fact that I now have a regular even though I’m not a fast food fan and promised myself I wouldn’t get stuck in this rut again.
Then I notice that I’m feeling kind of bad in general. A slight twinge in my stomach. I’m just about done with my food and I consider using the McDonald’s restroom. Without thinking I touch my face. When did I last shave?
A woman like me was beaten in a McDonald’s restroom, dragged out of the restroom, publicly beaten again, and people cheered. It’s been on my mind since I first heard about it a few months before.
My face is kind of scratchy. My compact isn’t in my purse right now so I can’t actually get a look. Maybe I look normal. Maybe I have a five o’clock shadow. Last thing I want is for people to know what kind of a woman I am in a McDonald’s women’s restroom. Probably nothing will happen, but I risk being beaten and possibly killed.
I’m wearing jeans. Maybe I can pass as male. I look down at myself. My shirt isn’t that feminine and my breasts are pretty small, I could probably pull it off if I leave my purse in the booth.
But what if I can’t?
Probably nothing will happen, but I risk getting worse than a beating, and possibly being killed afterward.
It was only one twinge, and I don’t actually feel like I have to go to the restroom right now.
I finish my food and head home.
Soon the McDonald’s is but a memory and I’m on my way.
I feel another twinge.
I’m at the worst part of my commute for this. For an hour and a half there is nothing for me. Nowhere I can use a public restroom, no woods I can run into and squat, not even a ditch to duck into. I now know I should have used the restroom at the McDonald’s.
There’s nothing for me to do but keep going and hope I don’t get worse.
I get worse. The feeling isn’t just in my stomach anymore. It’s lower. One hand goes to my abdomen and tries to sooth it. It doesn’t help.
I’m definitely going to need to poop.
Soon I’m doing Lamaze breathing and bargaining with myself. I won’t even try to hold out until I get home. I’ll blast into the restroom at the gas station that marks the end of the nothing expanse so fast that no one at the gas station will know what hit the place. Then I’ll calmly walk out, feeling much better, and make some bullshit purchase so that they don’t bug me about the restroom being for customers only.
Pretty soon I realize I can’t even make it that far. I think I’m screwed.
Then I realize that there is a chance. There’s a bridge. I didn’t think about it before because it’s not like I can go to the bathroom on the bridge, but under the bridge . . .
Under the bridge is nothing and no one. There’s no way I can get under the bridge on the near side, but on the far side maybe there is a chance.
By the time I’m at the bridge I think I won’t even make it to the far side, but I surprise myself and do.
It’s only when I’m on foot, beside the road, trying to climb over a fence designed to prevent stupid people from going under the bridge that I realize maybe I could draw unwanted attention. I look at the cars passing, but only for a moment.
I almost kill myself getting over that fence. All that’s left is to go down the steep embankment the bridge is on, and I’ll be out of sight and able to poop.
The thought that I might have drawn attention is still on my mind. It’s probably illegal to be here. There was that damned fence after all.
An image of being arrested while squatting under the bridge pops into my head along with the word “indignity”. The image is fleeting. The word is not.
Two steps away from being out of sight and everything falls apart.
The first shit comes out like a fart. The word indignity is still in my head. I think, for the first time, “This is the worst indignity.”
It wasn’t that much shit, so maybe–
The next shit comes with the next step. It is nothing like a fart. It fills my panties, escapes into my jeans, and starts running down my leg. I think, “This is the worst indignity.”
I’m out of sight, there’s more shit in me, and it’s not going to wait any longer. I fiddle with the button and zipper, drop my pants and panties as quickly as I can, and then try to hold myself in a position where the shit coming out of me won’t land on or in my pants and panties. There’s no time to get them off, so this is my damage control.
Trying to keep the shit from getting on the outside of my jeans is all I have left. I think, “This is the worst indignity,” again.
It doesn’t take that long to be done.
That leaves me under a bridge my shit filled pants and panties around my ankles, and a pile of shit behind me.
I waddle away from the shit on the ground and then get to work on taking off my pants. It’s disgusting. Some of the shit reached my socks, none on my shoes, but taking off the pants. . .
Maybe if I’d used the belt loops removing them would have been less gross. I didn’t think of that.
Besides, there was stuff to do. My panties were obviously a complete loss. My jeans I needed. I couldn’t continue home half-naked. First I tried to dump the shit out of them. Then I tried to shake it out. Then I turned them inside out –there’s no good way to turn a full-of-shit pair of jeans inside out– and found a rock.
I used the rock to scrape as much shit as I could off of the inside of my jeans. I threw the rock into the water.
I returned to my discarded panties, and my socks, and used the non shit-stained parts of them to try to clean myself off.
I threw them into the water.
Many times I thought, “This is the worst indignity.” It was never true.
There was only one way things could end. Eventually I’d done all that I could, I turned my jeans right side out and put them back on.
As I felt the shit-smeared jeans going up my legs, and touching my naked butt, I thought again, “This is the worst indignity.” I didn’t like thinking that same sentence over and over again, but it was a relatively minor annoyance given what else I was putting up with.
I climbed back up the embankment and back over the fence with the shit that had stubbornly clung to my jeans rubbing against my butt and legs all the way. I never did stop thinking, “This is the worst indignity.” There always seemed to be something worse even as I got back to the road and continued my journey home.
It didn’t matter where the nearest restroom was anymore, of course, what I needed was a long shower and clean clothes to change into. Public restrooms don’t provide that.
As I went home, shit kept rubbing against me, the word “indignity” kept bouncing around in my head, and I wondered what sort of rashes might develop as a result of prolonged contact with human shit. Denim isn’t very forgiving when it comes to rubbing.
And that’s my restroom story.
* * *
I tell you that story because those are the options I face:
- Use the Women’s Room and risk being beat up and possibly killed
- Use the Men’s Room and risk being beat up or worse and possibly killed
- Try to hold it and risk shitting my panties
When people talk about the which restrooms trans* people can use they’re trying to change those options, as well as the options non-female trans* people face.
Those who seek protections for trans* people are trying to make it so the first option doesn’t involve the risk of violence and thus I won’t even need to consider the other two. Those who seek restrictions for trans people are trying to take away the first option, forcing me to decide between the other two.
The restriction seekers want my options to be:
- Risk being sexually assaulted, non-sexually assaulted, and/or killed.
- Risk shitting my panties.
Any given time, deciding whether or not to use a restroom probably isn’t going to result in something bad, but once you do it enough times those small probabilities of bad things start to add up. If a lot of people (like all trans* people) do it enough times those small probabilities become certainties. Some people will end up shitting themselves if they stick to the safe route. Some people will end up assaulted (sexually or otherwise) if they don’t. Some people will end up killed.
What all of this talk boils down to is where you can shit and how safe you will be when you do shit. As I said before: it is always and forever, beginning to end, about shit.
Perhaps things would be better if politicians and pundits just called this debate what it is, “The debate over who should, legally speaking, have to poop in their pants.” Of course, the most at risk people might not be wearing pants –I often don’t– but it’s at least honest about the core issue.
Talking about family values, traditional gender roles, human rights, constitutional rights, and so forth all misses the point. It’s about not taking a dump in your underwear. Anything else is distraction.
The right to shit in a toilet is not, in fact, enshrined in the US Constitution. Perhaps it should be. As it stands now, however, being able to avoid shitting yourself is a privilege that owners of certain public spaces (such as most restaurants and certain stores) extend to some of their patrons.
There are many possible reasons why an individual owner might choose to do this, but the constantly shot down bills about protecting trans* people using restrooms aren’t really about rights. They’re about making it so the people who choose not to shit themselves don’t risk violence by taking a dump in a toilet.
They’re also about making it so that men aren’t forced to use the women’s room (or shit themselves) out of fear and women aren’t forced to use the men’s room (or shit themselves) out of fear. Currently proposed protections for trans* people would also codify rules about who can be where. Right now anyone can use any restroom provided they can get away with it. If trans* protection bills pass, only men will be allowed to use the men’s room and only women will be allowed to use the women’s room.
This is not without problems (e.g. what about intersex people?) but those problems are extensions of the same question: who should be allowed to shit in a toilet, and who should be made, by threat of violence tacitly approved by the law of the land, to shit themselves.
I’d like to think that one day we can live in a society where everyone can safely take a dump in a toilet and thus no one is forced to endure the indignity of shit-filled jeans simply because they had a chance to use a toilet but were afraid of what might be done to them if they did.
But, for now, just remember that it’s all about shit.
Not the children, beyond the fact that they need to shit too, not gender roles, beyond the fact that all genders need to shit, not the founding fathers, not religion– just shit.
Ok, so, chris the cynic speaking again, a reminder about hosted articles since it’s been a while since we had one. The above is not meant to be the end of discussion; it’s meant to be the beginning.
Above is what one person thinks (and an episode from her life that is relevant to those thoughts.) Now it’s time for other people to say what they think. And, yes, that includes disagreements. If you disagree with something she wrote, please say so. Ditto for if you agree with any point in particular. Make your voice heard.
That’s the idea at least.