No worries! Conservative geniuses are coming to my rescue! Take Frank Artiles, please!
Florida state Rep. Frank Artiles is not worried a bill he introduced last week will create problems for transgender people, he told BuzzFeed News, because using the restroom is a choice.
The Miami Republican’s bill would restrict single-sex public facilities — including restrooms in restaurants, theaters, workplaces, and schools — to people of the corresponding “biological sex, either male or female, at birth.” Violators would be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail.
Asked if such a rule would create problems for transgender women required to use the men’s room, Artiles told BuzzFeed News, “People are not forced to go the restroom. They choose to go to the restroom.”Hey Frank, it seems like you skipped out of both basic biology AND your preschool potty lessons. Going to the restroom is NOT a choice, it's a basic involuntary bodily function. Everybody does it, even people who don't fit with traditional gender roles.
Frank's bill attacks a problem that doesn't exist. Transexuals are not attacking people in restrooms. Rather it is transexuals who are subject to extraordinary amounts of threats and violence in our society today.
Dan Savage suggests an effective way to protest this stupidity and it's borrowed right from conservative boogeyman Saul Alinsky.
But if assholes like Artiles want public toilets to be the arena where we debate trans rights—if that's where assholes like Artiles wanna fight this one out—I think trans activists should meet the assholes in their preferred arena: Get a small group of trans activists and their allies together and occupy the public toilets in Representative Artiles's office—even better, get a large group of trans activists their allies together and occupy all of the toilets in Florida's state capitol building. March in, seize the restrooms, and put out a press release: "Frank Artiles wants to talk about public toilets. So let's talk public toilets. Let's talk about trans people, lets talk about violence, and let's talk about who's really in danger of being attacked in a public toilet." Reporters covering the demo would have to answer the question "Why toilets?" for readers and viewers dying to know about this insane demonstration—the exact same readers and viewers who would tune out yet another story about testimony at a hearing or protestors waving placards—and answering "Why toilets?" would force reporters to examine the bogus, bigoted rationale for Artiles's bill and the reality of of trans people's lives—i.e., trans people are not attacking women in public toilets, trans people are subject to appalling levels of physical and economic violence.
Yes, a public toilet is a ridiculous and demeaning place to hold a civil rights demonstration. But by occupying public toilets, demonstrators would be drawing attention to just how ridiculous and demeaning this entire debate about toilets actually is. (Something else to put on the press release: "We shouldn't be having this debate in a public toilet. But this is where Representative Artiles wants to have this debate, and so here we are. In his toilet, having this debate.")
There's a precedent of sorts for this kind of protest: The famous lefty organizer and civil rights activist Saul Alinsky once threatened to stage a "shit-in" at Chicago's O'Hare Airport. Mayor Richard J. Daley was dragging his feet on promised civil rights reforms, so Alinsky took aim at Daley's pride and joy: his shiny airport. From Playboy's 1972 interview with Alinsky:
ALINSKY: Some of our people went out to the airport and made a comprehensive intelligence study of how many sit-down pay toilets and stand-up urinals there were in the whole O’Hare complex and how many men and women we’d need for the country’s first “shit-in.” It turned out we’d require about 2500 people, which was no problem for TWO. For the sit-down toilets, our people would just put in their dimes and prepare to wait it out; we arranged for them to bring box lunches and reading material along to help pass the time. What were desperate passengers going to do—knock the cubicle door down and demand evidence of legitimate occupancy? This meant that the ladies’ lavatories could be completely occupied; in the men’s, we’d take care of the pay toilets and then have floating groups moving from one urinal to another, positioning themselves four or five deep and standing there for five minutes before being relieved by a co-conspirator, at which time they would pass on to another rest room. Once again, what’s some poor sap at the end of the line going to say: “Hey, pal, you’re taking too long to piss”?
Now, imagine for a second the catastrophic consequences of this tactic. Constipated and bladder-bloated passengers would mill about the corridors in anguish and desperation, longing for a place to relieve themselves. O’Hare would become a shambles! You can imagine the national and international ridicule and laughter the story would create. It would probably make the front page of the London Times. And who would be more mortified than Mayor Daley?
PLAYBOY: Why did your shit-in never take place?
ALINSKY: What happened was that once again we leaked the news—excuse me, a Freudian slip—to an informer for the city administration, and the reaction was instantaneous. The next day, the leaders of TWO were called down to City Hall for a conference with Daley’s aides, and informed that they certainly had every intention in the world of carrying out their commitments and they could never understand how anyone got the idea that Mayor Daley would ever break a promise. There were warm handshakes all around, the city lived up to its word, and that was the end of our shit-in.I like this Saul guy! I see why they are terrified of him!