I get harassed in restrooms on the regular. People stare/glare, make rude comments either to my face or under their breath (usually so I can hear it). Due to my affinity for bowties and all things dapper, they think I’m a man come to invade their sacred toilet spaces and leer at them. Most of the time I ignore them, sometimes I make a joke, and almost every single time I feel shamed. I hate using the restroom in public. Hate, hate, hate. I know I should have evolved by now, claimed my rightful place among the flushes and roars of hand dryers, but hate like that has a way of getting at your heart like sticks and stones shattering brittle bones.
The thing is, I know for a fact that there are those who experience my shame on a much, much larger and more pervasive scale (see: racism, transphobia, xenophobia, etc.).
Human beings have the capacity for beautiful, good things. I really believe that. But whenever I encounter these bathroom situations and read about systemic injustices, I am reminded that we also have the capacity to wound one another. The motivations vary, but the results are often the same: a person walks away feeling less than.
I know that we can’t just erase years of less-than-experiences, but it is worth taking pause to become aware of the ways we individually and collectively perpetuate the wounding of others and find ways to turn towards the beautiful, good things. Not just by saying the right things, but by taking ownership and moving to action. I believe that we have the ability to dismantle fear and injustice starting with ourselves and moving outward.
So, next time I get harassed in a public restroom I might just start quoting famous civil rights activists like “We must learn to live to together as [sisters] or we will perish together as fools.”
Or, you know, I could just flash them.