I was reading a recent post on Margaret Cho’s blog about an incident she and her friend Ian Harvie had at a Bette Midler gala where Ian was basically sexually assaulted by a woman in the bathroom because everyone thought he was a man. He does identify as a man, but he has a female body and feels more comfortable in the women’s room. Anyway, this woman totally grabbed his breasts three times!
I have bathroom problems, not as much as some other masculine women, but enough to be annoying. No one’s ever grabbed my tits though. I got sir’d just a few nights ago. The only thing that really bothers me about being called Sir is that the only time I use it is in a deferential BDSM context and my bottom side thinks “OMG! I’m not a Sir!” Aside from that I don’t really mind if people think I’m a man, because I am sometimes. But not nearly stealth enough to be able to use the men’s room. I do use the men’s room on occasion, but only if I know it’s going to be safe. I haven’t mastered using a urinal though.
What amazes me about the Sir Bathroom issues is that often the only masculine signifier to trigger off gender anxieties is short hair in women. I mean, it’s really ridiculous. Sometimes I’ve walked into a bathroom with full cleavage and I still get Sir’d. That one thing, it’s bizarre, especially when you consider how many women have short hair. Sometimes I also think homophobia is involved, a butch lesbian is pretty obviously queer, and telling one of us that we aren’t really women is a good way to dehumanize and shame us. I doubt they’re conciously thinking “I’m going to queerbash that person” but they are.
At queer events in Vancouver the bathroom thing wasn’t really an issue. Most of the ones I went to would have gender neutral bathroom signs replace Mens and Ladies. I really didn’t care about taking a piss next to someone with a penis, I wasn’t scared.
What I find really ridiculous are single stall bathrooms that are still classified Male and Female. I see no reason why they can’t just be two bathrooms, full stop.
The other thing is, god, do you know how rude that is to stop someone when they need to piss or shit? Gah, how jerky can you get?