CONTENT WARNING: LABELS
I cannot stress the importance of the I’ll Go With You campaign. The idea that I’d have someone like Anne, my Ally+, guarding me while I attend to a natural body function is a great relief. Anne will protect me and advocate for me, and she’d do the same for any trans person. I have other allies who would do the same.
But, I’m not always in the presence of my allies.
My amended California birth certificate protects me from being convicted under those laws that stipulate the gender on said certificate much match the gender of the public toilet or other gendered facility being used. But, it doesn’t protect me from harassment or from being arrested: only from being convicted. And, as I understand, other laws are being proposed wherein the birth certificate doesn’t matter. Rather, the genitals of the person are what’s important. There have already been cases in which a cisgender woman was confronted because she didn’t look enough like a “real” woman. So, these laws don’t just hurt trans people.
But because of these laws, I frequently avoid public toilets even if I am in the company of Anne or another ally who will stand guard for me. Some places I just don’t feel safe. If there are gender-neutral single-occupancy or “family” facilities, I’ll almost always use those. But they aren’t always available. So, I’ll just hold it until I can get home or to a place that I feel is safe (read “less dangerous”).
As there are very real negative health consequences to holding one’s urine for too long, I and others like me risk self-harm in order to prevent ourselves from being harmed. It’s a no-win situation. We could use the facilities and possibly get harassed or arrested, or we can hold it until we are home and risk harming our bodies.
This is just one of the choices our cissexist and cisnormative society has forced upon trans, agender, and gender expansive persons. We can get hurt even as we try to avoid getting hurt.
And, this is just a day in the life for many of us.