Transgender Day of Visibility 2016

March 31, 2016, is Transgender Day of Visibility.  The annual event was created to celebrate Transgender people and raising awareness of discrimination faced by transgender people worldwide.

This year’s Day of Visibility is even more important than ever.  Just last week the North Carolina Legislature and their anti-LGBTQ Governor signed HB2 into law.  This bill took less than 24 hours to become a law – that’s crazy!!

HB2 is the most restrictive and discriminatory law in the United States, it requires all North Carolina public schools, public college campuses and government agencies, including government-run hospitals, to maintain and guarantee bathrooms or locker rooms be designated for use only by people based on their biological sex.

The legislation went even further making it impossible for cities, towns and counties to pass anti-discrimination rules for their local jurisdiction, beyond the new state standard.

With HB2, there are no longer any discrimination protections for any member of the LGBT community regarding employment, housing or service.

There remain over 30 similar bills in state legislatures around the country to still waiting to be heard.  These bills, written by these legislators are nothing more than government condoned bullying.

The majority of these bills target the Transgender Community and the most vulnerable within the community our youth and teens. These young people need the adults in their lives, schools, communities and in their governments to understand that going to the bathroom is a human necessity.  Forcing someone with gender dysphoria to use the bathroom of your birth sex, as oppose to their gender identity is a terrifying experience.  Bathrooms are the scariest place on a school campus, just ahead of the locker room.

I can attest to these fears being real.Bathrooms and locker rooms were my largest source of anxiety, stress and fear when I was in high school. I would wait as long as possible during school, to the point of pain and discomfort, to use a bathroom.  On days when I need to go to the bathroom, I would attempt to use the nurse’s office, but if that wasn’t an option – the boy’s room was my last resort and the most dangerous place in school for me.

One door, in and out and no doors on the stalls.  All that needed to happen was to have one of my bullies walk in while I was there and yes I had bullies!   At best, I would be harassed, pushed, spit at or worst beaten up.  Fortunately, for me, verbal harassment and a couple of good shoves were worst things that ever happened to me, but others were not so lucky.

To this day, because of the bathroom anxiety I experienced in school, I constantly suffer.   In my mid-twenties, I was diagnosed with Diverticulosis, a condition not typically seen until the age of 50 plus, which I ‘ve spent years controlling sometimes better than others.  I have a difficulty fully voiding my bladder, leading to multiple trips to the bathroom a day.   Now, years after transitioning, the women’s restroom can be a place of anxiety, with long waiting lines, limited space and  single stall access.

So if you think this whole bathroom thing is a joke?  I’m here to tell you it’s not.  It has real emotional and physical consequences for these kids, not just today for years to come.