Once, I went to the bathroom after an author signing. I washed my hands next to a transgender woman and we had a brief but polite conversation about the event. Then I left and went to get something to eat.
Yep, that’s it.
I’m a straight, cisgender white woman, or someone who should be afraid of having a transwoman in the bathroom with me, right? Shockingly enough, I left with my life and never once felt threatened. Is it because I’m fearless and crave anything that will give me the slightest bit of adrenaline? Doubt it, since I have an anxiety disorder. As unbelievable as it may be, it could be because transgender people aren’t scary or threatening and that there are more terrifying things to actually be afraid of. In case you still need convincing, here’s a list of all of the things I personally find more terrifying than having a transgender person want to use the bathroom they are most comfortable with:
One time I was in New York for a field trip I had the privilege to go on at the last minute. I didn’t know we were going on the Empire State Building. I begged my chaperone to not make me go up, but thirteen year-old me was coerced into traveling up one of the largest skyscrapers in the world. For some people, facing fears like heights head-on would work. It definitely didn’t for me, and I still have trouble looking at tall buildings without remembering the trauma of that day. Meanwhile what I remember from my brief conversation with the woman in the bathroom with me was, “She seems super nice.”
2. Panic Attacks
Speaking of things that scare me, fear itself. If you’ve never had a panic attack, it symptoms are similar to a heart attack or the onset of sudden death. My worst happened on that same New York trip directly after that Empire State Building trip for around three and a half hours during a showing of Billy Elliot on Broadway. What was worse is that I couldn’t tell anyone what was happening simply because I didn’t really know what it was, but wanted to go home. No one deserves to go through that, including transgender people, who are more likely to suffer from a variety of mental illnesses than their cisgender counterparts.
3. The Resurgence of a Preventable Disease
I’m looking at you, anti-vaxxers. Polio sucked, so don’t bring it back.
4. My Dog Biting My Fingers Off When Giving Him a Treat
I love my dog. He is the closest thing to a child I’ll be having for the next ten years. Even so, sometimes he’s scary. The vet once said he had more muscle mass than his pitbull, and that’s saying a lot considering he’s around twenty pounds. He also has the strongest set of teeth and ferocious jaws I’ve ever seen in such a small animal. I can’t give him a treat straight out of my hand because there’s a large possibility he’ll bite my fingers off if I do. So far, I’ve never met a trans person who would bite my fingers off if I offered to share a snack with them.
5. Everyone Who Could Be Outside My Window After Watching a Dateline Episode
While I should be spending Friday nights in a more productive way, there’s times when I make the horrible decision to watch Dateline or some other crime-related show and spend the rest of the evening wondering who’s lurking outside. What’s even scarier is that a trans person has a one in two chance of being sexually assaulted throughout their lifetime and are constant victims of hate crimes, especially trans people of color. The Office For Victims of Crime reported that in 2009, “17 percent of all reported violent hate crimes against LGBTQ people were directed against those who identified themselves as transgender, with most (11 percent of all hate crimes) identifying as transgender women.” This statistic was higher (22 percent) for transgender people who were homeless.
6. A Snake Slithering Up the Sewage and Into My Toilet
Don’t give me that look, it can happen and has happened.
I understand Slenderman is a made-up internet legend, like a virtual boogeyman. It’s still creepy. It’s a tall, faceless, homicidal creature that lurks in dark forests. Most bathrooms are well-lit and transgender people have wonderful faces. Plus I never hear that awful static sound when I’m next to someone who is trans.
8. Global Warming
It started snowing for a few minutes the other day in my southern state. That would be normal in winter had it not been 78 degrees a few days earlier. I like diversity, but not in that way.
9. That Trans People Won’t Be Able to Pee Without Someone Harassing Them
Seriously, they’re there to just use the restroom. That’s it. And yet, going to the bathroom or just existing is a bigger threat to their life than the miniscule possibility of them assaulting a cisgender person. Why having a trans person in the bathroom alongside cisgender people is an issue I don’t quite understand, because it doesn’t take much to know that the transgender population will never rank on any reputable list or statistics for being the top cause of bathroom assaults or deaths ever. If you’re truly threatened by trans people, I would encourage you to do some simple research, whether it be a Google search or meeting someone who is trans.
Gretchen Gales once wanted to be a veterinarian, Shania Twain, and a writer all at once. She has since settled down with writing a variety of content, both nonfiction and fiction. She is currently the managing editor of Quail Bell Magazine. Her written work has appeared in Wear Your Voice Mag, The Establishment, Bustle, Yellow Chair Review, Luna Luna, projects of SFG Media, and more. Gretchen has also been interviewed for Her Campus as part of their “How She Got There” series.