Because this North Carolina resident gets real tired of people sometimes.
For non-NC residents, House Bill 2 is a piece of legislation that struck down all anti-discrimination ordinances for LGBTQ folks in the state and mandated that transgender people have to use the restroom that corresponds with the gender marker on their birth certificate. A more extensive explanation of HB2 is here.
In the wake of HB2, many memes have been circulating which show pictures of muscular, bearded trans men with a caption along the lines of, “Would you want these guys sharing a restroom with your wife/daughter?” The implication is that of course these guys should be allowed to use the men’s restroom, because they look just like any other guy. I’m not a fan of this approach, as you can see below.
Things HB2 (and the Response to It) Has Taught Me About Being Transmasculine
- My existence is only miraculous if I have a beard, if somebody “could never tell I was born a female,” if a woman would be terrified to pee next to me.
- Apparently people like me are destroying society and we need this law, but my everyday life has not changed since it passed. No guy says anything to me when I pee sitting down in the restroom. No one treats me any differently; strangers and people who have only ever known me as I am now think I’m just another guy. But my Facebook feed is filled with friends devastated by this law, and I walk into the men’s room knowing that my government thinks I don’t belong there. I cannot change my birth certificate. My birth state refuses to change the sex marker on a trans person’s birth certificate, even if they’ve had surgery. According to HB2, I will never belong in the restroom I use daily at work without incident.
- The new “HB2.0” ruling has added on that persons like me whose birth state won’t change their birth certificate can get an NC-issued sex reassignment certificate instead. This piece of paper would declare that I have had the appropriate surgeries to be allowed into the men’s bathroom. I sure am comforted to know that I can keep this piece of paper on my person at all times in order to prove that I belong in the men’s room. Thank you, North Carolina General Assembly, for retroactively giving me permission to use the bathrooms I have been entering, using, and leaving with barely any fuss for years.
- One of the many things Governor Pat McCrory doesn’t know is that I started using men’s bathrooms before I ever transitioned physically, even though I was seen as female all the time. A couple of times I went in the women’s room and terrified some women in there. I guess they saw short hair and men’s clothing and panicked. I couldn’t handle the thought of scaring women like men had scared me when I was growing up, so I started using the men’s room even though I was scared for my own safety. Maybe if we taught cisgender boys to be this considerate of women, nobody would have proposed HB2 in the first place.
- The passage of HB2 only repeats what I have been told all my life about masculine people: deep within your inner self hides a predator. You are so desperate for sex that you might deny your own gender identity and dress in a way alien to you on the off chance that you’ll happen upon a woman changing, see a stray nipple here or there. Never mind that some of us aren’t even attracted to women, or that there’s plenty of porn on the Internet if we want to see boobs. As a good man, it is your job to fight your inner perv, squash your inner rapist, and fight for laws like HB2 so the bad men, the ones who don’t fight their inner predators, don’t hurt your sisters or mother. I see this kind of fervor in the men who fight for HB2. They seem to truly believe that they are on the front lines between the women they love and the evil, perverted men in dresses who would harm them.
- HB2 only repeats what I have been taught all my life, that anyone whose endocrine system has been touched by testosterone is a depraved, sex-addicted lunatic. But I have taken testosterone now, and yes, my sex drive has increased. However, I have not turned into a creep. I can hang out with people I’m attracted to and enjoy their company without whining about being friendzoned. I can be drunk and still ask permission to touch someone I’m attracted to. I can be sexually attracted to someone and still see them as a person. Trust me, the way men constantly disrespect women has nothing to do with their hormones. And cisgender women have nothing to fear from transgender women on this front.
- The reaction to HB2 from the society around me has taught me that as a transmasculine person, my existence is only miraculous if I am completely binary, if I proudly meet male gender expectations in a way I could never meet the female ones. I cannot admit that I wear dresses at home sometimes, that I would wear nail polish at work if I could, that if I could grow a beard I would put flowers in it and love it for its softness. If I do, I run the risk of people asking why I would transition if I was going to act so girly anyway. I’m sure people who knew me when I was younger, when I rejected any feminine expression, would be confused too. And I have no explanation for any of them. I don’t know exactly why having a deeper voice and flat chest makes me feel more free to express myself in this way. And I’m tired of feeling like I have to explain myself. I don’t owe anyone an explanation for why I am the way I am, why I deserve to use the bathroom in peace, why I deserve to exist in peace. But the people who support HB2 need to hear explanations like that, and I am so tired of debating openness versus privacy, feeling like I have to expose myself for community service, debating whether to try to explain myself and people like me to someone who might never listen anyway.
- The world says that as a transmasculine person, my existence is only miraculous if I am completely binary. But I like my body now, and that feels like a miracle when after puberty, I felt like my skin would always fit wrong. I found out about my transition options, even after growing up in a world that didn’t want to admit that people like me exist, and I was able to use them. I am incredibly lucky to have had access to transition when many trans folks do not. Society and HB2 made me feel like trans people were freaks of science and nature, but I don’t think I’m one of those. If you’ll forgive the arrogance (and nerdiness), I think I’m more like Captain America, my body miraculously transformed from something that couldn’t hold me into something with new capabilities and strengths. Like Steve Rogers’ body, mine is a miracle of modern science. My chest was cut open, and I didn’t die. My hormones are my super soldier serum, bringing out what’s inside. My mind is a miracle of nature. The people around me said it wasn’t what I thought it was, and society told me (and still tells me) that I am crazy. But my mind is still what it is, and it is mine, despite the doubt that HB2 poisoned it with. I am transgender, and I am a miracle exactly the way I am, and I am here to stay.
This writing was inspired by a piece by a lesbian writer called “Things Other People Taught Me About Liking Girls.”