Thursday, October 11, 2012

Coming out

Today is National Coming Out Day, and as such, I've elected to come out.

Most of you who already know me are probably giggling at this notion, but I have not yet formally come out to my relatives, many of which are able to read this post.

Many of you who've re-added me on Facebook have likely noticed the name change. The change is to reflect that I no longer identify by my gender-specific name.

I have known most of my adult life that I'm queer. With relatives, I've learned over time to artfully dodge the issue, as well as the issue of my polyamory, for simplicity. But, there's nothing simple about hiding major parts of your life away from those you love.

Moving to San Francisco, and meeting so many with such strong conviction about who they are, has helped me examine myself and my gender dysmorphia. I've never felt that "male" fits with how I identify as a person, and I feel as if, here in SF, I can finally explore a new path. As I visit my doctor tomorrow, and talk about the next step of that path, I come out.

I am queer. I currently identify as genderqueer. I have also identified as polyamorous, and have been in multiple simultaneous long-term relationships, for almost a decade now.

I've reached a point in my life where I want my relatives in my life, but the opinions of those who don't take this information well are understandable. I'll be alright either way.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

On restrooms and gender

Rhianna and I stopped at a Franchised Coffee Shop (TM) today, and procured some frosty beverages.

R then asked an employee for the key from behind the counter, to use the single-occupancy restroom. She unlocked the door to the women's room and went inside.

Soon after, another customer went into the area with the restrooms. The customer tried the door to the women's restroom, which was locked.

When this person, who had what some in society would consider to be masculine features, went back to the counter and asked for a key, the customer was given a key to the men's room.

The customer went back to the area with the restrooms. Trying to open the women's room door with the key given, which didn't work, it took a minute to realize that the customer was handed the men's room key. Seemingly mortified, the customer then opened the door to the men's restroom and went inside.

I watched as these events unfold and was, in a way, a bit heartbroken. I imagined this scenario, happening over and over again, to a person who likely perceives themselves differently than the world sees them. The embarrassment, the confusion by others, again and again.

It later occurred to me: Why are single-occupancy restrooms categorized by gender, anyway?

What purpose does such a system serve? The men's room didn't have a urinal, so that couldn't have been the reason. On the contrary, it seems as if the scenario of using said restroom is potentially humiliating for both the store employee and the customer. More importantly, whose business is it, anyway, what is or isn't between one's legs when using the restroom? Is society so set in its ways that we still feel the need to carry out this useless practice?

If multiple rooms need categorization, a better system would be to call the rooms "Room A" and "Room B" or something similar. The current labeling of single-occupancy restrooms looks to offer no positive aspect and several negative ones.