On CALIX, a California library listserv, a librarian asked about which restrooms a cross dressing patron should use in the library.
Actually, this must be an issue in any public facility - does anyone know the answer?
Read on for some serious discussion that quickly degenerates into an embarassing story about Karen Dyer and me.
Subject: [CALIX:3261] RE: cross dressing and library restrooms
Date: Thu, 9 Dec 2004 08:47:43 -0800
From: K.G. Schneider"
> Just wondering if anyone had any suggestions about one of our patrons who is a cross dresser. Is there any reason he shouldn't be allowed to use whichever restroom he chooses?
Well, there are so many facets to this. First, cross-dressers are not necessarily Transgendered. Second, there are people whose biological gender is different than the gender they identify with. Third, there are people who are intersexual, who are biologically or by preference identified somewhere else along the gender spectrum.
Then again, to get back to Loren's original question... there may be legal issues, but those aside, the advantage of letting him use the women's room is to get out of the "gender challenge" issue. I.e., if it walks like a duck, my gut feeling is let it use the duck's room. Of all the questions I don't ever want to have to ask a patron, "do you have a penis?" is pretty high up there.
On a practical note, in terms of patron safety, I don't think there are too many instances where cross-dressed men have been beaten up by women, or vice versa. On a personal note, I don't mind sharing a restroom with a person in a dress who may have a different chromosome lineup than the one I was born with. I would worry a little about the safety of male-identified women using men's restrooms in some areas.
This might be an interesting topic for an ALA program; it's something that could be referred to ALA's GLBTRT by our chapter councilor, if there were enough interest.
Note (inevitable LII tie-in) we have a new GLBT page on LII: http://lii.org/search/file/glbt
Library restrooms are not on there... yet...
So what does Mary Minow say?
Karen G. Schneider
>Subject: "So what does Mary Minow say?" asks Karen S.
>Date: Thu, 9 Dec 2004 14:55:49
>Probably, she would not say that one day she and I were attending a workshop and left the room together to go get a bottle of water. We walked out with a gentleman we both know and we were following him although he had not said he was going for water. She and I were talking and laughing so hard that we followed this gentleman straight into the men's room. He stood there and said, "I'm not proceeding any farther". We stopped talking and I exclaimed, "Mary, look where we are!" We simultaneously gasped and left the men's room, pronto. We laughed so hard that we were getting looks from other workshop participants and the leader letting us know our laughter was now inappropriate.
> After this "confession", I hope Mary still loves me.
Best, Karen Dyer, speaking on the lighter side of the bathroom issue
Subject: on gender-appropriate bathrooms
Date: 10 Dec 2004 02:38:31 -0000
From: Mary To: KTDyer, CALIX
Laughing out loud - yup, I probably wouldn't say that. But truly I remember that experience fondly and warn all readers to keep on their toes when walking and laughing with Karen Dyer.
From Mary who will always love KTDyer, wherever we end up!
postscript: Luckily, there were no other people in there at the time