Last year February, while at the restroom in New york Pennsylvania station, I observed that a ‘girl’ was waiting in line to use one of the toilets. She was wearing tight jeans, cropped top, high heel undersized sandals but with impressively styled hair and make up. On closer look, I noticed the stubble under the layers of caramel foundation. She began to talk animatedly with one of the attendants and it was her voice that confirmed my suspicion… A guy was in the female restroom!, it didn’t bother me. It was rather amusing.
Slide into 23rd February 2017, at about 8pm while on the first floor of Macy’s large department store in Manhattan, I heard loud chants coming from the ground floor “Trans rights are Human rights”
I joined the others clustered near the edge of the escalator to see what was going on. I saw about a hundred mostly young men and women at the center of the store with raised placards.
After some enquiries, I gathered that the transgender community was protesting against President Donald Trump’s reversal of Obama’s transgender bathroom policy, thus preventing transgender students from using the bathroom of their identified gender.
This was my first time witnessing a protest in the States. It was surprising to see how unafraid and vocal they were, even as they chanted the F word at the President. The police patrolled close by without arresting anyone.
One of the speakers was a very spirited campaigner for LGBT rights. With hands raised, she said emphatically ” this is more than just bathrooms, this is about human rights” the protesters echoed her words and cheered her on with a big round of applause. She equally wondered aloud why Macy’s was still selling some of the president’s products.
While riding several times up and down the escalator taking pictures, I pondered on this issue. Obviously, this was not a third world problem. We may have bathroom fights but not in this context. There are not enough bathrooms to share with the same sex as it is.
Yet, If this were to be an issue in Nigeria would you mind sharing restrooms with a transgender? How would you know that someone in the restroom is truly a transgender and not pretending to be?
I don’t think that guys would mind sharing the same bathroom with a transgender male as much as females.
But there are so many grey areas, Take for instance, last weekend, during the Texas state wrestling championship, 17 -year-old Mack Beggs, a transgender boy was barred by state rules from competing in the boys’ league. ‘She’ won her weight class, against girls. The dilemma was that she couldn’t compete with the boys (because she wasn’t a boy) and many people were not happy with the situation either because ‘she’ was taking testosterone injections and therefore had an unfair advantage over the girls.
With all the dilemmas and protests going on, I was very comforted the next day to see the staff of Queens Library at the front door welcoming everyone into the library saying “Everyone is welcome here”
What else can be said; Let our activisms, advocacies, protests, complaints, speeches, be done peacefully and respectfully. Let’s agree to disagree or even better let’s agree to understand because this is our earth and everyone is welcome here.