May I Use the Restroom?

Apart from liking some things I’ve seen on the Facebook, I’ve not said much about the bathroom laws and yesterday’s Obama Administration edict that public schools must allow students to use the bathroom and locker room of the gender with which they identify (side note: love. that. man). But I’m kind of done being quiet now. I am so over the Chicken-Little-esque cries of “THEY’RE COMING FOR OUR CHILDREN!” Because “I don’t think transgender people are necessarily pedophiles” is the new “I’m not racist, but…”

Today someone I know, who is an honestly smart and good-hearted person, posted their concern for the safety of children if we allow transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice and I had to say something. Not because I think that he is wrong about wanting to protect children. I think all children should be protected without qualification. But I think that this question of bathroom use and gender is the greatest gift to child molesters that they will ever see. The folks who now are fastidiously eyeing who goes in and out of bathroom stalls have taken their eyes off the other adults in their children’s life who are much more likely to be committing these atrocities. When have you ever heard a survivor of sexual abuse say, “Yeah, it was a dude in a dress in the bathroom at Target.” Never. It is always a family member, a friend, a coach (Hello, Dennis Hastert), a teacher, or a pastor. I’m not advocating we take one form of paranoia and re-focus it on those closest to us. But the hyper-vigilance, in this case, is misplaced.

Here’s the full text of the comment I posted. I wanted to share it here, mainly because I know that like 2 people read it and it will be easier for me to find it:

The fact that this is just now coming to light as a concern means that the folks who are freaking out about this do, in fact, equate transgender people with pedophiles. Don’t you think that someone who was sick and twisted enough to mess with children would have already thought about dressing as the other gender and entering public bathrooms for prey? This is not AT ALL giving people the right to dress up and go into a different bathroom for any reason at all. It is incredibly difficult, and in some states illegal, to change the gender on a birth certificate. The trans people I know look like the gender they identify with, not the one on their birth certificate, so it would cause way more chaos if they went into the bathroom of the gender on their birth certificate.
 
Which brings me to my next point – how is this supposed to be enforced? I’ve heard stories of people going into restrooms at Target and then having other customers trying to look into the stalls WHILE THEY’RE IN USE to determine the gender of the person in there. Seriously. So which is creepier? To let someone just go in and use the restroom and be done with it? Or to look in ALL THE STALLS before you select yours to make sure you and your children are safe? Again, to spy specifically on people who appear to be transgender is to equate transgender people with pedophiles. Not. The. Same. 
 
Next – why are people sending unattended children into public bathrooms at all? For any reason?
 
Still more – there has historically NEVER been a recorded incident of someone trying to dress as the opposite gender and sneak into a restroom to abuse children. NEVER. So again, it comes up in conjunction with a conversation on transgender rights which means the subtext is that a transgender person must be a pedophile. Transgender people have been using the bathrooms of their gender identity since FOREVER and this is just now coming up?
 
And finally – before anyone cries “THEY’RE COMING FOR OUR CHILDREN” please tell me how many transgender people are friends of yours, people in your life whom you love, part of your family? How many have you spoken to? Did you know that when the NC law was passed , calls to suicide hotlines for LGBTQ people TRIPLED? Did you know that Transgender people are twice as likely to have a college degree than the cisgender population but also twice as likely to be unemployed?
 
The bathrooms of 2016 are the water fountains of 1956. This is fearmongering and nothing more. Last I checked, loving your neighbor didn’t mean spying on your neighbor when they try to use the restrom at a big box retailer. Children should be protected. Always. Unconditionally. But you’re barking up the wrong tree when you think that protecting them from transgender people in the bathroom is the way to do it. Unfortunately the culprits are people who are presenting as the gender on their birth certificate and show up in your lives as coaches, teachers, pastors, family and friends.
 
So while you’re watching the bathroom, who’s watching your kids?
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The $10 In My Pocket

I have $10 in my pocket. It might as well be $1,000,000. I have that much of a clue as to what to do with it. It doesn’t seem like a lot of money but it is heavy with meaning and generosity

I’ve had a rough, well, let’s say year and a few months. I’ve been quiet over here because I am more of an internal processor when life goes south and in many ways it has. But in many ways, it’s pretty great. I am on the verge of a new chapter and over the last few months, I have spent a lot of time practicing the disciplines of trust, silence, meditation and prayer.

This morning I had the privilege (and I actually mean that) to lead worship at a service that is held weekly at Justa Center in downtown Phoenix. Justa is a day center for homeless senior citizens that is a ministry of the United Methodist Church. There were only a handful of people there but God was there, and the room was full.

The last couple of weeks has been pretty hectic for me, including an out-of-state job interview, final projects for a class, leading music at City Square and starting a business. I’m not going to say I phoned in planning the service at Justa Center, but it didn’t get my full attention until the night before. I had been reading the lectionary passages but nothing really struck me. As I went through past messages, I pulled out some thoughts on hope from John 20, which seemed appropriate as Thursday was Ascension Day and this was the last Sunday of Easter.

In John 20, the disciples have locked themselves in a small room, but even though the doors were locked, Jesus showed up. We talked about the importance of being hopeful and not allowing our perspectives to get small and trust that Jesus will show up. After the service, they asked me to do another song, so I pulled something out of my back pocket and sang for them for a bit.

It was so lovely and there was such a great spirit in the room. My heart was full and I was so happy to have been there. Then Nola came back into the room and pressed an envelope in my hand. She said had been blessed by the service and wanted me to have the donation she had put in the offering plate. She was thankful to have good news about possible permanent housing and felt God told her to give something to me. It was $10. A five and five ones. From an older woman who is in recovery, living in a shelter, one rung above homeless. I froze, thanked her, and then went to find the coordinator.

“What do I do with this?” I asked him. “I can’t take money from a homeless woman.” He said that she had felt very strongly that God wanted her to give that to me and that I should take it in the spirit it was intended, from a pure, generous heart.

So I have this $10 in my pocket. It’s the heaviest paper money I’ve ever had in my possession. I cry every time I think about it. I still don’t know what I’m going to do with it, but I am going to spend a lot of time praying and meditating over it. She is the woman who gave all she had. To a woman who has stuff and who just this week was expressing anxiety about being unemployed. I am humbled and thankful. Nola is not a lazy taker. She is a woman with a generous spirit despite her circumstances who wants to contribute and has a heart to worship God. I have been taught a great lesson and will use my $10 wisely.