Transgender Bathroom Panic

Unless you’ve been hiding under your bed clothes for the last couple of months – and I don’t blame you a bit if you have, we’re a fair way beyond “crazy” at this point – you know that we’re in the middle of a Bathroom War in the US just now.

It’s been framed as a conflict between the “common sense” rule of keeping men out of women’s private spaces, and the “dangerous” practice of allowing them free access.

I have a few things to say about that.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I’m cis-gendered, which means the doctor happened to be right when he assigned the gender on my birth certificate. I also have a lot of trans friends. And no, I’m not going to tell you who, because all but one are deeply closeted. That one is Gwendolyn Ann Smith. I will tell you that I count 3 trans women, including Gwen, among my closest friends and I know dozens of others.


This whole thing, from where I stand, is actually about two separate issues.

One is safety in public restrooms. Let’s get that out of the way.

It’s a real problem, and it should have been addressed years and years ago. Women, girls, and little boys are at risk of assault when they use public facilities. It doesn’t happen a lot, but it does happen, and it happens because bathrooms are tucked away for privacy. There’s little chance an attacker will be caught. That’s the real reason that women go to the restroom in clumps; there is safety in numbers. The only thing this has to do with trans people is that they are at far higher risk than non-trans people. There are zero cases of trans people being the aggressor.

You want some links? Have 3, chosen totally at random. A 16 year old girl died in Delaware after being beaten in a bathroom. A 15 year old girl was raped in a bathroom. A 23 year old woman was raped in a Manhattan bar.

  • Note that none of these cases involved anyone who was trans.
  • Note that in none of the cases did the man don a wig and dress to commit his crime.
  • Note that laws that do, or do not, allow trans people to use a bathroom where they are comfortable – or at least, less uncomfortable – have no bearing at all here.

It’s not about trans people.

It’s easy to fix.

We need to put public bathrooms in high traffic areas. The toilets need to be in actual little rooms with lockable doors (not stalls that people can peep over, crawl under, or peer through the cracks of.) There should be a “panic button” on the wall for people who need help, because that happens; especially with senior citizens or people with disabilities. The sinks should be out in the open, where they can be seen by everyone.

If we did that, then it would be safe for everyone to take care of bodily functions.

Since the toilets would be completely private, there wouldn’t be any need to have any kind of gender anything. No one would be able to loiter unseen, because they would be clearly visible to everyone.

But all of this isn’t about any of that, is it? If it was, there wouldn’t be so many untested rape kits in North Carolina.

This is about the right of transgender and gender-non conforming people to exist at all.

The people screaming about the sanctity of their bathrooms are really fighting for a binary world. For a world in which things are black and white, male or female, yes or no. They are fighting for absolutes.

People like binaries. It makes choices clear and easy. It’s the lazy way to deal with differences. You are either one or the other. Us or them. Liberal or Conservative. Girl or Boy.

The problem is that nature doesn’t do binary at all. Not in anything. Between day and night, there’s always twilight. We only know when Winter becomes Spring because of the artificial conceit of a calendar; there’s no clear demarcation in the weather. Heck, we can’t even really draw a line between animal and vegetable!

In real life, all the lines blur. There are always liminal spaces that aren’t exactly one or the other, but have some characteristics of both.

This is true of everything, including human biological sex.

Trans people, far from being “unnatural” are proof positive that humans are part of the natural world.

I’m not going to go into all the stuff that happens, between chromosomes, hormones in utero, and embryonic development that causes a baby to be born with enough differentiation for the attending doctor to assign a gender. Suffice it to say it’s not nearly as clear cut as you learned in biology class. Sex chromosomes don’t always come in pairs. Things like Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome cause people who are genetically male (46XY) to have female sexual characteristics at birth. Women with XY genes have even give birth.

So it’s not surprising that people can have outward sexual characteristics from one gender, while knowing that they really belong to the opposite one. Or people who are uncomfortable being assigned to either box.

We don’t really know what causes internal gender identity, although we might be learning.

We do know, however, that Gender Dysphoria is a real thing. It doesn’t go away. It feels horrible. It can kill, if it’s not treated.

So what it comes down to is this; do we accept people’s own reports of their lived experiences, or not?

If we do, then we have to agree that someone who knows to the bottom of her soul that she’s female is female, whether or not she has a penis. Someone who identifies as male, is male, even if he happens to have a vagina.

If not, of course, then you insist that you are omnipotent; you know what other people are feeling and thinking better than they do themselves. How that assumption of god-like powers can not be considered blasphemy is beyond me, but I digress.

Because here’s the thing.

Trans people are people.

Like everyone else, they should be treated with respect, kindness, and honor. Everyone should be, no matter what.

At the beginning of this post, I said I know a bunch of trans people. The most important thing about them?

Being trans isn’t the most important thing about them.

They are artists, writers, computer programmers, health workers, teachers. They have rich or complex relationships with their parents, siblings, children, and friends. They have different things they like or dislike. They are all avid science fiction readers, like nearly everyone else I know. They are all the things that everyone else is, and it’s those things that make us friends.

The only reason to care about someone’s gender is so you know how to treat them.

If you are treating people differently based on their gender, that’s a problem I think you should address.

In other words, let’s go for true gender equality, and stop worrying about the gender of other people.

Picture Attribution; the transgender flag: harvey milk plaza, castro, san francisco (2012) by torbakhopper Used under a Creative Commons 2Generic License. Slightly cropped and resized.

Dizzy Days – Oh, Vertigo

I’ve been fighting some kind of bug for the last week or so. You know, fever, congestion, cough, achiness – the usual. I’m sure a lot of you have had it too. It’s been going around.

For me, one of the symptoms is usually extreme dizziness. Being sick tends to aggravate my Meniere’s Disease, and cause episodes. On Monday it was so bad that I was forced to use the walker that Michael made me buy. I’m so glad that he did, too! It makes it possible to get around when I’m so unsure on my feet that I would otherwise be going hand over hand along the walls.

I wrote this little 300 word piece to express what it’s like, being dizzy like that.

This is a dizzy day.

I have them, sometimes. I wake up, and I’m dizzy. Or I wake up fine, and then somehow, suddenly… vertigo.

I have Meniere’s Disease. It happens.

I can go years between attacks. We all can. But lately, I’ve been having a lot of them. It was so bad a couple of weekends ago that I had to be taken out of IKEA in a wheelchair. It was so bad last weekend that I gave in and got a walker.

It’s weird.

When I was small, I thought being dizzy was delightful. I would do things to make myself dizzy. I’d beg Uncle Harish to hold me by my arms and spin me through the air until I was giddy. I’d twirl around and around. I’d lean far back while swinging, and let centripetal force have its way with me.

I thought it was hilarious to stagger in circles, ground pitching under my feet, trying to walk while the world whirled madly around me. I’d be disappointed when the feeling wore off, and jump to my feet, eager to “do it again!”

My how times and tastes change.

Now I sit here, the room slowly rotating, wishing it would wear off! I notice I’m holding my head on one side, which seems to lessen the effect slightly, and wonder how much I’ve been doing that lately.

Is that a symptom? A warning? Because that’s the most dangerous part.

There is no warning.

There never is with Meniere’s Disease. It’s part of the diagnosis.

My sister is convinced it’s an ear infection; if I take the proper drugs, it will all go away.

But I know better.

It will go away when it goes away, and nothing really hastens it along.

Until then, Dizzy Broads R Us.

Picture Attribution; image twenty-one; spinning by RCabanilla Used under a Creative Commons 2Generic License. Resized, but otherwise no changes made.

The Arcade is coming, and I’m considering a career change!

It’s been a long, hard winter, but it’s giving way to spring! (Pay no attention to the winter storm behind the curtain.)

The next round of The Arcade in Second Life is coming, and I’m going to be in it again, with a set I’m calling “Warm Home.” Because even though spring is coming, where I live, in Michigan, the next few weeks are going to be wet and windy. It’s the kind of weather that chills you to the bone, and makes a Warm Home a haven.

If you’d like to see, I have sneak peeks up on Flickr. The potholders that are the Featured Image for this post are also from the set.

Making the 11 objects for this round, most of which are interactive in some way, pretty much sucked up every minute of my time for the last six weeks or so.

But now that it’s over, I’m looking ahead to other things I would like to do.

To begin with, I’m going to get some more things up over on my store at Zazzle. Today, I put Cat Dancing there!

Cat Dancing Poster
Cat Dancing Poster by RobinWoodEnt
View Robin wood Posters online at zazzle

Not to mention working on this blog more.

I’m thinking of changing my career, here in my sixty-second year of life, and becoming a writer.

I’ve written for many years. I have a couple of non-fiction books in print, and I’ve worked as an editor and tech-editor on several software books. I’ve even written for a software manual! Not to mention a bunch of articles in gaming magazines, decades ago.

But I’m talking now about writing fiction. I started late last week, and I’ve already gotten a 2500 word short story done, and I’m writing one 300 word exercise piece a day. The thing is, I’m not sure how to get them out there.

Would you like me to post them here, on my blog?

Let me know in the comments. (If I don’t hear from anyone except spammers, I’ll assume no one actually reads this blog, and I won’t bother. So if you are reading this, and you want to see more, please do comment!)

Thoughts on my Day Off

Its Monday. The day I spend “blind for tax purposes”. I’m extremely myopic, and have worn contact lenses for more than 40 years. I’d like to wear them for the rest of my life, so one day a week I let my eyes rest, and go without them.

My glasses are heavy and uncomfortable, and don’t come anywhere near correcting my vision, so mostly I just walk around my house with my eyeballs all nekkid. Which means anything I can’t do on my phone, (which I can hold the necessary two inches from my eyes,) I simply can’t do.

So I take the day off.

Which is the only thing that keeps me from working seven days a week, since I’m self employed.

Last week I finished the Texture Tutorials in Second Life, and put them  out for people to use on my sim, Livingtree. I also got set up for Trunk or Treat, which is open now. And put the annual Halloween Cauldron with freebies in it out for the SL Kids.

Next week, I start to work intensively on the things I’m making for the Arcade, which will open December first.

But today is the day between, when I rest, and read, and study, and do a lot of thinking.

Mostly, I’ve been thinking about how to become … I’m not sure what to call it. Someone filled with kindness, compassion, joy, passion, curiosity, humor, common sense, intelligence, wisdom, perspective, and patience, all laced through with love and honesty.

I’ve been working at this for most of my life, really. I think a lot of us have, but that might be “the usual error.” (The one where you think other people are more like you than they really are.

Right now, I’m doing a lot of thinking and reading about body acceptance, and about bias in general. About how people treat other people, and about intersectionality. (More than one thing that causes people to be marginalized in this society. Like being both black and trans, or being both poor and gay, or being three or four or even more things all at once, like a fat lesbian trans-woman of color, and how they all add up to make life more and more difficult, even when none of them are anything anyone has any control over.)

When I’ve thought about it enough, I’ll probably write something here about it.

Anyway, that’s the kind of thing I’m doing on this gorgeous October day.  What are you doing?


Updates on Many Things…

So much happening, I’m not sure where to start.

As you may know, my friend Vince Frost, known in Second Life® as Lumiere Noire, died last month. As a way to deal with my grief, and a memorial to Lumi, I’ve been working to update the Texture Tutorial.

The Texture Tutorial is a build on my sim, Livingtree, in Second Life. I first built it back in the early days, when textures were far less complex than they are now, to help people who were coming from other places and platforms and starting to build in SL™.

SL has always had its own idiosyncratic way of doing everything; so it was necessary even for people who were familiar with 3D texturing to find out how the platform handled it. It was even more necessary for people who had no background in 3D texturing at all.

I’ve updated it once before, and kind of updated it again a few times (mostly by mentioning on the Notecards it gave out that this or that had been changed, and the notecard was out-of-date.) But now I’m starting all over again, and rewriting everything. When it’s done, people will be able to visit and find out how to optimize images for SL, what all the fields and things on the Texture Tab are for, what you need to know about normal maps, specular maps, and UV maps in general, animating textures for SL and putting textures on the SL avatar.

The last two haven’t changed much. But the rest has changed a lot. When I first did the Texture Tutorial, we had no normal or specular maps at all. SL still has its very own way of doing things, too, which need to be explained. For instance, who would think to look for the specular value map in the alpha channel of the normal map? That’s… yeah…

Meantime, while I’m working on that, a lot of things have been happening in First Life as well. Mostly things about the health of my extended family.

My niece has been going through a really rough spot, health wise. She’s only 26, but she started in June by passing kidney stones, went into a series of illnesses, and wound up unable to sit or stand without feeling faint, and going into tachycardia. Even when lying perfectly still, her heart was going more than 140 beats a minute. Eventually, she spent a couple of weeks in the hospital, being given every test known to medicine, before they diagnosed her with POTS (Postural Tachycardia Syndrome).

Besides being really worrying, this has caused a huge financial burden for her and her husband. We have helped as much as we can, but at the moment that’s not much (reasons below.) She has set up a GoFundMe page, and if anyone reading this could help, it would be hugely appreciated.

The reason we can’t help much is that my husband Michael and I have spent most of the last month having medical tests of our own.

I’ve been struggling for a while, and finally gave up, and told the doctor. He sent me to a Sleep Specialist, and I’ve now been diagnosed with mild to moderate sleep apnea. With any luck, we’ll be able to treat it soon.

Michael went with me, for his own test, at the same time. The sleep doctor took one look at him, and begged him to go to a cardiologist. So, after a whole battery of tests, from a Haltor monitor, through stress tests, EKG, echo-cardiogram, and finally a left heart catheterization, he has been diagnosed with mild heart disease, and some restriction in the arteries. He’s on a couple of drugs, and a change in diet (less fat and salt) and his heartbeat is now perfectly regular. The doctors say he’s good for another 20 years, at least.

We are in our sixties. I guess we shouldn’t be so surprised. But we didn’t expect all the medical stuff.

So, that’s why I’ve been neglecting this blog. At the moment, I also have an infection, and have been running a fever around 100° F for the last few weeks. But I’m getting the upper hand (I think) and should be back to normal soon.

There’s been so much I wanted to talk about here, including putting Otter Medicine up on Zazzle, but no time or energy to do it.


Open Letter to Those Who Aren’t “Good Enough.”

I’m taking part in the Zero to Hero challenge, here at WordPress.

Today, the challenge is to write to that one person we hope would read our blog. The one we are trying to reach.

This is my post, to all those who are burning with creativity, but are sure their work isn’t “good enough.” Continue reading Open Letter to Those Who Aren’t “Good Enough.”