Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Can using the bathroom be a crime?

Ok, I know I'm in danger of becoming as much a pro-LGBT blog as a criminal defense/crazy Sarah blog. But I'm ok with that because I'm not sure it gets more pro-LGBT than me.

So here's the upsetting story for the day: a transsexual woman was ticketed in Dallas for using the women's restroom. Sigh. Deep, deep sigh.

As if life hasn't been tough enough for Paula (born Paul). Yes, she's a mannish-looking woman. And who knows how tall or broad she is. So when she was spotted in a women's room (that was empty when she went in), I can understand why the woman who saw her noticed her. But come on. I mean, really, come the F*** on. She was using the restroom! She didn't hurt anyone or even communicate with anyone. She did her business in a closed stall, washed her hands, and left. How on earth does any of that add up to a disorderly conduct charge?

But, see, the woman who did spot her was made uncomfortable by Paula's presence in the restroom. So this woman decided that Paula, who began her transition to female 6 years ago, had no business being there. Of course, how do you think some men might respond if Paula walked into the men's room, wearing a dress and pumps? You think she might run the risk of getting assaulted by the wrong guy in a men's room? Seems to me, either way, someone is going to be made uncomfortable by Paula entering a public restroom.

But Paula (and people like her) can't be blamed for how people react to her. And she, like all the rest of us, sometimes has to use the bathroom in public. And since she can't win and will meet resistance no matter where she goes, let her freakin' use the bathroom that she's comfortable in. I'm guessing that life has been difficult enough for her all these years, identifying with a different gender than her outward appearance would suggest. I don't know exactly how old she is, but she clearly wasn't born in the 90s when she might have had a hope of having parents who were comfortable with a transgender child. For crying out loud, let's not make it harder by requiring her to hold it until she gets home. At the very least, she shouldn't be charged with a crime because someone who had no interaction with her at all didn't like which bathroom she used.

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