A few weeks back I took the grandkids to the ultimate San Francisco tourist trap — Pier 39.
When I needed to hit Pier 39’s woefully inadequately sized restrooms, I wasn’t surprised there was a line snaking out the door or the fact the women’s line was twice as long and moved four times as slow.
And I was only mildly surprised when a girl — perhaps in her early teens — joined the men’s line.
If others noticed her presence they didn’t acknowledge it. For the record, she stood in line for the two toilet stalls and paid scant attention — even if that — to the urinals.
It wasn’t the first time I’ve come across a female using the men’s restroom and I’m sure it won’t be the last.
I understand you’ve got to go when you’ve got to go. And women — who have been dealt the short end of the stick over the years by building designers that are obviously male — typically have less porcelain available to take care of their bodily functions.
Modesty can fly out the window pretty fast. I found that out 32 years ago after being directed to a public restroom in a hotel under construction outside of Chignahuapan in Puebla some 126 miles east of Mexico City. Chignahuapan is noted for making Christmas ornaments and having the largest figure of the Virgin Mary in Latin America. It is not noted for accommodating American tourists or, for that matter, having any American tourists. The hotel being built was targeting Mexico’s working class.
I was startled to discover four things. First, it was a unisex bathroom. Second, there were two entrances from hallways but neither had any doors. Third, the toilet consisted of one big square with water in it that you stepped up to, turned around and either dropped your pants or hiked your dress depending upon your gender and then extended your bottom across the water while leaning forward on the edge that had a fairly nice glazed brick that looked like it hadn’t been cleaned for a couple of weeks. Fourth, there were seven other people already using the communal toilet pit and three of them were women.
I guess those are a couple of reasons I’m not too worked up over the transgender bathroom issue.
Don’t get me wrong. I have big issues with people who try to make transgender access to the bathrooms the equivalent of discrimination based on skin tone or ethnicity. Nor do I agree with those that equate transgenders with predators or who push the theory it will give some hormone crazed teen the ability to make believe he’s transgender so he can do a Trojan horse act and get cheap thrills using a girls bathroom. For society, this is a cultural issue and not one of discrimination or sexual deviancy. One doesn’t change culture with any degree of lasting success by passing laws or protesting. Assimilation is a slow and deliberate process that relies a lot on trust and becoming comfortable with differences.
Everyone of us that are attracted to the opposite sex have used public restrooms with gays if we are men or lesbians if we are women even if we were not aware of it. We start getting off track with the words we use to describe people. Going to the bathroom isn’t about your sexuality. It’s about going to the bathroom.
It makes sense if bathrooms aren’t unisex you use the one designed to match your outward plumbing whether it is natural or created in a surgical suite.
I’m not going to say bad things don’t happen in bathrooms, they do. But in the past 25 years in Manteca the only sexual assault in a school bathroom that’s I’m aware of was at Manteca High when a girl was raped in a campus bathroom after school let out by a man who walked onto the campus. It wasn’t about sexual orientation. It was about a sexual predator. They are not one in the same.
That said, it is a bit disingenuous of all of the cities, states, and businesses rushing to condemn cities and states that are passing laws — or attempting to do so — requiring people to use school and public restrooms based on the gender they have at birth.
If freedom for transgenders to pick the restroom they want is the 2016 equivalent of slavery, then those cities, states, and businesses have a moral obligation to live up to their convictions and convert all restrooms under their control to unisex status.
That way there is no discrimination based on one’s emotional wellbeing or having to stand in line longer trying to hold their bladder because the same geniuses condemning cities and states for discriminating against transgenders discriminate on an even larger scale against women when they build restrooms in government or corporate buildings.
Until critics match their hyperbole with actions of their own they should back off slamming those that have legitimate cultural concerns about allowing genders — trans and otherwise — to comingle by doing their business in the same restroom.
For the better part of two centuries this country has embraced the concept of separate public restrooms based on gender. To argue as if it is unconstitutional to do so is as brazenly offensive as arguing that those who are transgenders are somehow freaks or predators.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.