Catherine Newman, the blogger at the Ben & Birdy blog has written an open letter to a man who chased her son (Ben) out of the men's restroom because the man apparently couldn't identify Ben as a boy. Allegedly believing Ben was a girl, the man felt that it was therefore appropriate to scream at him. And then he felt it necessary to chase after the child and locate "its" mother to scream at her as well.
Because that is how we handle these things in this country. Well, not "we," actually...a transperson would never behave that poorly in a public restroom.
I should point out that Catherine's son is not transgender…just a boy with long hair.
I don't have a lot to add to the mother's open letter, which is shared on the other side of maze.
I just want to start by applauding your decision to shout at us right off the bat. “She was in the men’s room! Your daughter was in the men’s room! A girl in the men’s room!” For one thing, how else will we learn? For another, how else will we be covered in spittle? Plus, I think it’s good, if you see something unexpected, to proceed with violent certainty rather than with, say, wonder or even doubt. Like the time I found that slightly darker O in my bowl of Cheerios and freaked out because I knew for sure that it was a wheel from the landing gear of a miniature UFO that was going to abduct me and probe my anus; if it were cereal, it would look like the rest of the cereal. Likewise, if you see a doll with short hair, even if it’s lying next to a pair of scissors, you should think, “Ew. When did Ken’s boobs get so big?”Can anyone legitimately not believe that the way to handle this is to adopt the Arizona plan and make all people carry their birth certificates with them at all times, to be used to access public restrooms?
It made sense, too, to continue to insist that he was a girl, even after he calmly explained that he had been in the men’s room because he was a boy. (“It’s Ken! But Ken has boobs!”) And your distress over imagining that a preadolescent girl saw your man parts—“I was naked in there! She saw me naked!”—makes such an important point about the prevalence of peeping-Tommery in young girls, and the ways that middle-aged men are vulnerable to them.
To answer your question, “Are you its mom?” more unambiguously: Yes. But you’re smart to ask, because maybe the whole family is a transgendered house of mirrors and I’m really “its” dad! (Last laugh—i.e. my having it—alert!) Certainly, though, it made a lot of sense to imagine that I had colluded in the perversion of sending a girl into the men’s room because, after all, what parent doesn’t want their daughter to be in a tiled room full of urinating men?
In conclusion, thank you for your valuable input. I can only hope that my son will leave behind his girly days of placid confidence and grow into somebody as manly as you—with the kind of balls it takes to scream at a child in public.
Just think how that man would have reacted if the boy had actually been an adult transwoman. Can anyone legitimately think that transwomen being forced to use the men's room is the safe way to proceed?
Actually, I say we should go a step further than that. I believe that all people should have their sex chromosome configuration tattooed on their foreheads. Then we will all be comfortable with knowing who is who and what might be in their pants.