The Monster in the Closet and the Bathroom Problem

A story,

When I was a small child, I grew to be very afraid of a faceless presence that lived in my closet.  I never knew exactly what this monster was, but I was sure that it existed.  Many a night with the lights out, I could feel it lurking and waiting to come out of the tightly closed door and get me.

Characters from Pixar's "Monster's Inc"

Characters from Pixar’s “Monster’s Inc”

I really had no idea what the monster was going to do once it “got me,” but there was no doubt in my mind that it was in that closet and it was coming.  I would cover my head with my quilts and pillow, but the fear of the monster in the closet didn’t go away.  Every once and a while I would peek from out of the covers to see if it was standing over the bed, but it never was there.  Nevertheless, I just knew in my heart that it was still in the dark closet, waiting for it’s moment.

Eventually, I would call Mom or Dad to come scare the Monster away.  They would come and turn on the lights and open the closet door to show me that there was nothing to fear.  Over time the fear would slip away, but there was a very important element to the easing of this irrational fear; the Monster never came out of the closet.

I tell this story as a comparison to the issue of the general public’s fear of trans women in the women’s restroom.  Specifically, male bodied people in female bodied spaces.  This is a fear of invasion, violation and bodily injury.  These are not minor “oh, just get over it” fears.  These are real and need to be accounted and considered.

There are real reasons for sex segregated facilities.  There are cases after cases where male bodied offenders enter female bodied spaces for the purpose of committing assault, rape and violence.  Start with a Google news search to find actual incidents.  This can not and should not be ignored by the transsexual and transgender communities.  Those of us who are female bodied are at just as much risk as any other woman in that space, and those of us who are male bodied need to understand and respect the need for safety.

Male on female violence is still at a very high rate and like it or not this does spill into the fear of public accommodations.  As long as the fight for Gender Identity rights include all access to the spaces that accommodate the person’s targeted gender this will be a problem.  Some call it the “Bathroom Problem.”  So let’s stop kidding ourselves and start creating real solutions to a very real fear.  We as the transgender and transsexual communities need to continue to fight for the end of irrational discrimination in public housing, employment and public spaces, but as far as sex segregated spaces, the time is not now.  Since we are the ones asking for the general public to change it’s perception, we are the ones who must work with the general public to smooth away any issues.

I will offer three ways to work through this time until the private needs of transgender and transsexual individuals are understood and accepted by the general public.  None of these require “panty police” or “show me your papers” patrols.  These are all up to the person transitioning to do and show respect for the general public.

  1. Either don’t use public sex segregated spaces or only use the ones that match your current configuration

Remember what our parents advised us to do before driving on long trips?  “Go to the bathroom before we leave because we aren’t stopping.”  This is still great advice.

During my pre-op transition in the early eighties, I was told under no circumstance was I ever allowed to use the women’s restroom, showers or even the locker room.  They were very clear and diligent about this rule.  I was very much allowed to use the men’s facilities and believe me the men were laying in wait for me to enter their space.  I learned, as most humans do, how to control my bodily functions so that the occasion would never arise that I would need to breach either space during work hours.  I found other places to take care of my needs that were either friendly or private.  I would wait until I could leave the premises for lunch times or even hold “it” for the entire shift.  It is possible.

I know that there will be some that can present special cases or run on about Buck Angel in the women’s room.  I can only say that if we really care about working this out then the onus is on us to remove any and all reasons to fear our presence.

  1. Use only Single occupancy public facilities

Single occupancy facilities are a great idea for the protection of female and male bodied individuals.  When one is in a room alone, this removes almost all risk of attack from others in the same room.  When a person is transitioning or if a person prefers to remain a non-op, the single occupancy facility removes any chance of the perceived need for a “panty check.”  (Yes, I used the scare quotes because “panty checks” still scare me.)  They also tend to allay any issues that a parent may have in helping their opposite sex child in restroom functions.

It was this type of facility I looked for during my days of transition because of the privacy they allowed.  It is also my understanding that the idea of a common sex segregated area for restrooms is a relatively modern thing.  Single occupancy was the norm until larger and larger buildings were constructed and space became a commodity.  That being said, I don’t think there will ever be a single occupancy shower or locker room space available; so we must make arrangements to take care of those needs in the privacy of our own spaces.

I know that a single occupancy facility is not a guarantee of safety.  There can be no complete guarantee of that.  Ask Chrissy Polis, she was beaten outside of a single occupancy facility for many reasons that escalated into a hate crime because she was trans.

Once again I know that some will present special cases for the homeless and those without access to these.  Again, I can only say that they are available and we must make the effort to find them.  There are plenty out there and there are resources available to help your search… like the Refuge Restrooms website.

  1. Finish your transition

I know that this is hard for some and there are some who do not need to completely transition to a male or female body.  Great, then own your body.  If you wish to maintain a penis, then continue to use the facilities designed for people with penises.  If you chose to maintain a vagina, then continue to use the facilities that are designed for vaginas.  Once you finish your transition, no matter how difficult, arduous, satisfying or unsatisfying the outcome, you are by default a member of that sex, and are less of a risk to your companions in your sex segregated space.

Please notice that at no time do I state that the presence of a penis or a vagina determines your manhood or womanhood.  I state this to be very clear that Gender Confirming Surgery (GCS) does not make one a man or a woman.  The only thing GCS does is to make one male or female bodied, and it is that distinction that must be understood when it comes to relieving the fears of the general public.

Some would say that it is not anyone’s business to know about the state of their genital configuration, and I would agree for the most part, and in a perfect world that would be true.  However, we do not live in a perfect world.  We live here and now.  Here and now, penises are used to rape vaginas.  Here and now, female bodied people have a good reason to fear male bodied people.  We, as transsexual and transgender people, are just as likely to be a victim of abuse and rape as the general public so it is in our interest to work for our protection also.


None of the options that I state involve anyone subjecting themselves to a “panty patrol” or a “paper search.”  The perceived need is removed.  As long as the fight for public accommodations for our communities includes sex segregated spaces, we will be hard pressed to achieve any progress.  Between the scare tactics of the opposition and the very real acts of criminals, the battle is already lost.  Many will claim that there are plenty of current laws on the books that prove me wrong, and to those I say that is a paper tiger.  Laws can and do get rescinded and rewritten, and once a crime is committed under the protection of those laws, then everything is thrown out.

Fighting for public accommodations that do not include sex segregated spaces (yes, I used the term “sex segregated” a lot, because words have meaning) is necessary, needed and should be our priority. The problem that we face is that sometimes the monster does come out of the closet.

Transsexual and transgender people are just as likely to commit criminal acts as any other person on the planet, and when they do they should be tried by a jury; and, if found guilty, sentenced to a punishment that they deserve.  Let’s make sure that there will never be a reason for ANYONE to claim Gender Dsyphoria as a reason to commit or lessen the impact or responsibility for their actions.  One way to do this, and to give the general public confidence that the people they share public sex segregated spaces with belong there, just to do their business.

The best way to make sure that the monster never comes out of the closet is to make sure that there is no monster to begin with.

A Simple Request

I have a simple request, well maybe not so simple, but here goes. I request that the State of Texas change my certificate of birth to reflect my sex as female. I have recently passed a major milestone in my life. I have now lived longer since my corrective genital surgery than I ever lived mis-assigned at birth. Sounds simple enough, but the state of Texas continues to give mixed messages as to my identification.

I was born in a hospital in Dallas, Texas over a half a century ago. When I arrived in the delivery room the doctor counted ten fingers, ten toes and a very small, slightly deformed protrusion. He then ticked a box on a form, and hence I was assigned male. In Texas, that is the end-all and be-all of the sex determination process. You are labeled male for the rest of your days. I have to believe, even if I don’t know of anyone personally, that there are cases where babies born with indeterminate sex characteristics have been able to get the state to permanently change the certificate of birth to their preferred sex. These folks are the lucky ones and may whichever deity they ascribe to grant them peace and a happy life. I am not among these so fortunate.

Although my body would develop female secondary characteristics and lack most male secondary characteristics, the state of Texas continues to refer to me as a male on my birth certificate. I did transition completely to female early in life with the help of the kind folks at the Rosenberg Gender Treatment Clinic in Galveston, Texas. My reassignment surgery was performed by a Texas surgeon at the University of Texas Medical Branch also in Galveston. Of course, none of this means anything to the state of Texas. When I woke up after my surgery, the surgeon reached to shake my hand and say, “Congratulations, It’s a girl!” It did not make one difference, to the state of Texas I will always be the box that the doctor ticked when I was born. End of story.

Having physically corrected my body, I would even be willing to subject myself to the same-sex determination standard that applies to any of today’s new born babies. A doctor could exam me and find ten fingers, ten toes and the presence of labia, major and minor, and then tick a box on a form to assign me female. I am now a female bodied woman. I would like the state of Texas to recognize this.

I make the request of the state of Texas to change my certificate of birth for several reasons. First, the document is no longer accurate or truthful. Second, I would like to marry and stay married to a man. Lastly, I would like legal recognition and closure as the female bodied woman I am.

I am a woman, I have always been a woman and I will always be a woman. Though my body was categorized as male has really nothing to do with the fact that I am a woman. Science has confirmed that everyone has a mental body map. Mine is that of a female. When I close my eyes and picture myself if has always been of a girl and now a woman. I have gone as far as medical, technical, practical and theoretical science can go to match my physical body to my neural body map. If it were possible to grow or transplant ovaries and a uterus, I would. Had I been born two hundred years from now, I could possibly correct my chromosomes. Alas, I’m here in the twenty-first century and must be satisfied with our limitations.

I know that there are many in the transgender community who are now rolling their eyes, putting palm to face and exclaiming, “She’s pulling the ‘I’m more woman than you are’ card.” For those

who prefer to remain non-op (it doesn’t matter the reason) or those who claim that it doesn’t matter what is between your legs, I say run along. It does matter; and yes, I am more of a female bodied woman now than I was before the reassignment surgery. Females do not have functioning testicles and penises. Males do not have functioning ovaries and uteri. If they do, they do whatever it takes to correct this problem. This was true in ancient Rome, this was true in early eastern cultures and it is true today.

The second reason for making this request is for the right to marry a man, and remain married as husband and wife. The Texas courts have upheld the ruling that you are what you were assigned at birth; and the Texas constitution states that marriage is between a man and a woman. In 2009, Texas passed a family code to try to clarify its position on post-operative persons standing, but this has only confused the issue. One county will allow me to marry a man based on the Texas family code while another will not because it is a same-sex coupling.

Because of the state of Texas’ policy of you are what you were assigned at birth, I can only marry another person who was assigned as female at birth. On the face of this it would appear that Texas is okay with same-sex marriage, but that is not how they see it. It is still a union of a man and a woman. They could both be wearing the most elegant wedding dresses or the happy couple could appear in the most dapper of tuxedos and the state of Texas would see this as stunt.

I believe that person’s of the same-sex have a fundamental human right to marry. They deserve the same rights and privileges as persons of opposite sex couples to live a life of happy nuptial bliss. I do not want to have a same-sex marriage. I want to be able to marry a man of my choosing as a loving wife. Many LGBT activist including Lambda Legal have tried to discount my concerns by stating that once we have achieved marriage equality then the point would be moot. I disagree; I would still be recognized as a male marrying another male. Not the dream wedding I was planning.

In addition to the act of getting married, there is the problem of staying married. If my husband should decide that this marriage is not working for him, and if we are not in agreement, then he can easily file for an annulment claiming that I am not really a female and that same-sex marriages are illegal in Texas. Also, as discovered by Nikki Araguz, if my husband should pass away, his family can claim the same and discount and devalue the love and life that we had built together.

If the state of Texas would grant my simple request to change my certificate of birth to female and remove all references to a male past then the issue for women of transsexual history would be solved. I know that this would do nothing for the LGB’s and transgender of the state, but I would still be an ally and stand for what is right.

The last reason I make this request of my home state, though there are plenty that I could go on with, is for the hope for closure of this issue. I have been on a long, winding and costly journey to come into my own and this is one of the remaining items that hang over my head. The state of Texas had no problem in changing my driver’s license to female. The US government had no problem changing my Social Security or my passport.

When I request a copy of my current certificate of birth, it will arrive as a document in three parts. First the original document from the time of my birth; second, a document to append my record to reflect the name change to Marilyn, and lastly, a document to correct my record to change the sex from male to female.

I first thought that the correction made on the third document would be enough to satisfy my request. Sadly, after consulting a Texas lawyer that is a transsexual legal expert, she informed me that this is not the case. In Texas, I’m still what I was assigned at birth – A male.

Texas is a state of rugged individualist. To this day we Texans pride ourselves on going it our own way and doing it without help. One would think that my journey would be embraced and supported. I have since left my home state for the liberal bastion of the northeast United States.

What am I going to do to enable this? I intend to continue to make this simple request again and again until things are made right. I intend to write several letters on the Transsexual Independence Day – a set to my representatives in my new home state and a set to the elected leaders of the Great state of Texas. I will continue to donate to transsexual legal defense and education organizations.

I also plan to start opening up about my history and speaking out where I can. I don’t think that I’ll ever be a leader for the cause, but I want to be more visible to let people know that a normal person with a transsexual history deserves to get respect and understanding.