Collectively and openly, in their rainbow of appearances, they should enter gendered spaces in defiance of the segregationists. The movement needs a ground campaign, a peaceful series of “pee-ins” across the nation that will bring a face and an image to this struggle. Americans need to know that trans people exist and use facilities like any other person, and should not be intimidated or threatened for the way they look. The nation needs to see the diversity of transgender identities safely and peacefully using gendered facilities and standing up to threats to their humanity. They should understand that existence and acceptance of people born with nonconforming bodies is not what threatens the peace and safety of our society, but the violent threats and actions of those who cannot tolerate human difference.
Without such a public campaign that will raise awareness, even laws granting legal protections to trans individuals will do little to change the daily intimidation and violence that trans people face in gendered facilities. Organizations fighting to stem the tide of transphobic legislation should also work to inform the public about the rights of and the risks facing gender-nonconforming people using gendered facilities. Everyone would be well served if signs were posted explicitly stating that intimidation, violence, or threats will not be tolerated against any person in those facilities, regardless of how they look, and that anyone who experiences or witnesses such aggression should report it. Additionally, men who make murderous threats against trans individuals for entering bathrooms with their “wives and daughters” need to be held accountable.
Of course, we must all fight transphobic laws in the legislatures and in courts, tooth and nail. However, we will gain most by pushing hard for acceptance and equality at the same time as fighting off oppression. States like North Carolina are a lightning rod, for their blatant and outrageous legal segregation, but let us remember that even in Massachusetts, a bill granting trans individuals protections in public accommodations is languishing on the governor’s desk. Trans activists and advocates need to show our politicians that the cause for justice will not wait, and that we mean it when we say that the incitements to murder, assault, and suicide must stop now. A broad grassroots ground campaign bringing transgender Americans from across the spectrum openly and peacefully into the gendered spaces where they are comfortable, in front of the nation and the world, will show just that.
Let us resolve to be more visible. All of us, transgender and cisgender, in every shade and stripe of presentation. Transgender and gender-nonconforming people should determine for themselves who they are and which facility they use, and not be governed by the bigotries of the segregationist who, like the Walrus, conceals his violence with nonsense syllables.
I’m all for pee-ins. Everywhere. People having to pee while they are out an about should not be an issue, and it’s beyond absurd that it’s become such an issue here in uStates.