Barry Saunders

Saunders: Keep transgenders out of restroom with me

Sit down and brace yourself, all of you over-reacting, reactionary lawmakers: I’m with you on this one.

Just tell me where does one sign to keep transgenders out of the bathroom when I’m in there.

Of course, I also want to sign to keep everybody else out of there, too.

How many of you are – as I am – incapable of using an occupied public restroom without singing “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head”?

Oh, so I’m the only one, huh?

Fortunately for me, by the time I get to the line that goes “So I just did me some talkin’ to the sun,” everybody flees and leaves me in blissful solitude.

That’s why this country’s public buildings need an individual lavatory mandate for everybody, regardless of race, creed, national origin or gender. Hard to believe the founding fathers didn’t think of that, isn’t it – life, liberty and the right to privacy to do what you have to do in the loo?

After the Charlotte City Council voted last month to revise the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance and add sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression to the list of protected groups, some Republican legislators responded to the city council’s ordinance with their typical level of understatement and serenity.

“The City Council of Charlotte has lost its mind,” bellowed Sen. Buck Newton of Wilson.

The response from Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger of Eden was equally subdued.

“How many fathers,” Berger asked, “are now going to be forced to go to the ladies’ room to make sure their little girls aren’t molested?”

Whooosh!!! That’s not that must-have newfangled Japanese toilet flushing: that’s legislators going 0 to 80 mph with their outrage.

Newton, Berger and other legislators are incensed because the new Charlotte ordinance allows transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.

Quicker than one could say “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin,” House Speaker Tim “Two-ply” Moore was calling for a special legislative session to figure out how to halt what they see as the transgender toilet menace.

The tempest over which toilet one uses will soon be as anachronistic as those old-fashioned Elizabethan pull-chain toilets anyway, if you believe Robert Brubaker, director of the nonprofit American Restroom Association. Brubaker talked to me last week from his office in Baltimore. His office is in the same building as the Shy Bladder Center.

Go ahead, look it up: I’ll wait.

Brubaker explained to me about “potty parity” and the difference between unisex, family and companion-care restrooms. The trend in public toilets, he said, is “family restrooms,” where instead of having one men’s and one women’s restroom, “the next available toilet or restroom is available to the next person in line, whether they’re a man or a woman. That way, you don’t get into this thing where there are three people waiting for the women’s restroom and there’s nobody in the men’s” restroom.

“That’s gender parity. Gender doesn’t come into it. I know that (transgender access) is a big issue,” he said, “but it’s not one we’re touching. ... Our issue is trying to make sure there are enough restrooms out there for people when they leave home,” he said. “As to who uses what side – we don’t know. What we do push for is ‘genderless,’ because that solves the problem for everybody.”

Not everybody. The first commenter to Sen. Newton’s web page – he’s running for attorney general – wrote these lyrical words to Newton: “Two days ago I heard a spot by you explaining your position on and opposition to the (what I call) “You MUST Let Pervs in the Women’s Bathrooms” Laws), and that spot got you my vote. I’m in. You might think my language is a bit too – impolitic – but all a perv/rapist has to do is CLAIM to be a pre-surgery trans, and your daughter is alone in an enclosed space with someone.”

Wow.

Even if the legislature repeals the Charlotte ordinance, how’ll we know that transgender people aren’t still going to use the restroom they want to use?

How – tee hee – do we know they haven’t been doing so for years?

That’s right, Sen. Newton: That guy standing next to you – unless he’s singing “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” – might not have always been a guy.

During World War II – or at least on every episode of “Combat!” I’ve ever seen – our soldiers would ask suspected Nazi infiltrators questions only a real American would know: who won the World Series in 1918? Who was Fred Astaire’s favorite dance partner? What is Spam made from?

Their foxhole paranoia was understandable: Let the wrong person into your midst and the consequences could be fatal.

What, though, drives the paranoia of legislators who think transgender people can’t wait to infiltrate their public restrooms and start touching them?

More importantly, will they design individual restrooms – or at least a series of questions – to prevent presumed impostors from entering their inner sanctum, from lounging in the “wrong” loo?

Say, hold up there, hoss, before you get started: Who led the NFL in rushing last season?

Pardon me, ma’am – if you are a ma’am. Who wore that magenta evening gown better at the Grammys, Katy Perry or Rihanna?

OK, proceed.

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