Ladies' Room?

There are many meaningful things said about the gender divide vis a vis bathrooms, but I didn’t expect to be blogging about it. Still, a couple of recent articles – one in The New York Times, and the other in The NY Post – have brought up all the usual issues and complaints.
If we allow crossdressed men to go into a ladies room, the end of civilization is upon us. Pedophilia will occur at mind-boggling rates. Women will no longer feel safe.

    A few things have occurred to me.
    1) The reason women already go to the bathroom in pairs (other than a chance to gossip) is safety. So it’s apparent they already don’t feel safe going alone to the ladies’ room, trannies or not.
    2) One of our loyal bloggers actually did some research on the incidence of men crossdressing in order to assault children in bathrooms, and after an evening of making himself heartsick with horrible stories, found only one incidence – which turned out, after all, to be a mistake.
    3) It strikes me that the easy answer to this problem is to legislate that new buildings need to include one single-occupancy bathroom. Period. So that the transperson, or woman-raised-female, or child-and-parent (fathers take their kids to the bathroom, too) can use a room that is lockable and private. Other buildings could be required over a period of time to retrofit their own bathrooms for similar use.
    4) I wonder often at the people who spew such fear and hatred of strangers, or the unknown. I wonder how they ever feel safe in their worlds.
    5) The first time I shared a ladies’ room with a drag queen the only thing that upset me was that she’d remembered to stop at a mirror to freshen her lipstick and I hadn’t.

Not to make light of the situation: women are vulnerable to unprotected spaces, and getting stuck behind a locked door. But I don’t think crossdressers are the men who are going to be assaulting them, and I don’t think the average sex assailant would be willing to emasculate himself to that degree in order to assault women. Transpeople are usually just as scared as women are of assault from men.
Since stalls create the privacy, why aren’t ladies’ room doors transparent? I don’t have a problem with someone watching me put on lipstick or make sure there’s no toilet paper stuck on my shoe (and maybe the clear doors would shame more people into washing their hands – like they’re supposed to). Extra eyes help cut down on violence.
So the real issue is: why don’t women feel safe in restrooms?
My guess is that it’s because we don’t take crimes against women seriously enough – no matter who perpetrates them. They say you can judge a society by how well it treats its women and children, and by those standards, we’re not getting a passing grade. ABC reports an increase in child abuse that’s ‘epidemic’ and the stats on violence against women stay the same year after year. If women don’t feel safe in their own homes, why on earth would they feel safe in a public bathroom? And while you might say these are two different issues, the late Andrea Dworkin said:

By the time we are women, fear is as familiar to us as air; it is our element. We live in it, we inhale it, we exhale it, and most of the time we do not even notice it. Instead of “I am afraid,” we say, “I don’t want to,” or “I don’t know how,” or “I can’t.”

So why are women afraid of transfolks in restrooms? Because women are afraid. While they may not understand that transpeople are not the ones who will assault them, they don’t expect their boyfriends and husbands to assault them, either. And they do. They do. And as usual, what can be feared (because it is unknown, sometimes unknowable, and new) will be feared instead. Their fear is legitimate. Transpeople’s need for accomodation is legitimate. But once again, we’ve got this tiny sliver of pie, and no one’s getting enough to eat. The issue again is male violence – male violence against gay men, transpeople, and women. When we all realize that we’re in this together, maybe, maybe, we’ll take back the night.
Resources: The NY Post and NY Times articles can be found on the MHB Boards, and there’s some sensible legal consideration given to the issue by Michael C. Dore of

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For those of you who have not made a habit of reading blogs, but would like to keep up with what I’m doing and writing, I mail out a digest version of my blog entries monthly – easy access through email.
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The Comment Runaround

After much agonizing poking around code, I found myself unable to figure out just why you good people weren’t getting your temporary password when you registered for the blog.
Well, that’s probably because I’m not really a hacker or a coder.
But Dana Johnson is, and she figured it out!
So, two cheers to Dana!
Now, those of you who tried to register, please do it all over again and I’m pretty sure you’ll get your email with your temp password. Just be sure to change it to something you’ll remember.
So comment away!

New Pope

Having grown up Catholic, I was really hopeful that the next pope chosen would be of a more liberal bent on women’s issues than JP II. Unfortunately, Ratzinger – now Pope Benedict the XVI – was Pope JP II’s ‘hardliner’ on women’s issues.
He’s written things like this:

A second tendency emerges in the wake of the first. In order to avoid the domination of one sex or the other, their differences tend to be denied, viewed as mere effects of historical and cultural conditioning. In this perspective, physical difference, termed sex, is minimized, while the purely cultural element, termed gender, is emphasized to the maximum and held to be primary. The obscuring of the difference or duality of the sexes has enormous consequences on a variety of levels. This theory of the human person, intended to promote prospects for equality of women through liberation from biological determinism, has in reality inspired ideologies which, for example, call into question the family, in its natural two-parent structure of mother and father, and make homosexuality and heterosexuality virtually equivalent, in a new model of polymorphous sexuality.
3. While the immediate roots of this second tendency are found in the context of reflection on women’s roles, its deeper motivation must be sought in the human attempt to be freed from one’s biological conditioning.2 According to this perspective, human nature in itself does not possess characteristics in an absolute manner: all persons can and ought to constitute themselves as they like, since they are free from every predetermination linked to their essential constitution.
This perspective has many consequences. Above all it strengthens the idea that the liberation of women entails criticism of Sacred Scripture, which would be seen as handing on a patriarchal conception of God nourished by an essentially male-dominated culture. Second, this tendency would consider as lacking in importance and relevance the fact that the Son of God assumed human nature in its male form.

It’s not good news for women or GLBT people – in fact, it’s really bad news. You can read the whole of the Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church On the Collaboration of Men and Women, if you’d like.
Matt Foreman of the Gay and Lesbian Task Force wrote:

“Today, the princes of the Roman Catholic Church elected as Pope a man whose record has been one of unrelenting, venomous hatred for gay people, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. In fact, during the reign of John Paul II, Cardinal Ratzinger was the driving force behind a long string of pronouncements using the term ‘evil’ to describe gay people, homosexuality, and marriage equality. As a long-time Catholic from a staunchly Catholic family, I know that the history of the church is full of shameful, centuries-long chapters involving vilification, persecution, and violence against others. Someday, the church will apologize to gay people as it has to others it has oppressed in the past. I very much doubt that this day will come during this Pope’s reign. In fact, it seems inevitable that this Pope will cause even more pain and give his successors even more for which to seek atonement.”

All told, this is not a Pope that will deal with pressing issues of the Church in any kind of enlightened way: no ordainment for women, no marriage for priests, no rational understanding of the natural existence of homosexuality, or the new family, or even changing roles for women. He may only be a “caretaker” pope, but depending on how long he lives – there may be a lot for the next pope to undo. Another religion moves toward fundamentalism, which is about the last thing we needed.
I’m calling him Pope Maledict, myself.

Microsoft Abandons Gays

Especially in a political era of attacks on gays, we need the corporate leadership to stand up.
Microsoft has done so in the past, with its own policies as well as politically, but it has just pulled its support for a gay rights bill in Washington state in response to the pressure exerted by exactly ONE anti-gay pastor.
Please, read more at, and contact anyone you know personally at Microsoft, as well as any/all of the contacts listed at that site.

Welcome to the Re-Design

Welcome to the newly-redesigned There’s nothing missing (well nothing that we won’t add back!) but there are a ton of new features I’m pleased about.
On your right, groovy links to pages about me, the book, & the website.
Then you’ll find an interesting set of “blog categories.” These are categories I can put my blog entries into (yes, I went back and categorized all of them) so my blog can now be read. If you only want to look at pictures of cats, say, you can do that. Or, if you only want to read my thoughts about various aspects of gender and the trans community. You pick.
The search box way up top is good for looking up something specific, like “Fantasia Fair” or “shoes.”

    If you keep scrolling down on the right, you’ll find
    a recommended list of books (recommended by me, of course)
    good places to find good sex advice
    a list of links to trans resources and organizations
    a list of other organizations i like
    and the monthly archives for my blog

The cool thing is that this site re-design allows me to make changes more easily, and without Betty’s help (for the most part). So I’m hoping to make it a less static site, with more regularly-updated info.
Welcome! Feel free to look around, and let me know what you think. You can do that again, now, because I’ve got blog comments again, too.
Thanks to WordPress for great software, Betty for fixing every tiny little thing, and to all of you for making MHB a site worth re-designing.

On Being a Partner

One of our MHB board regulars mentioned that she feels she might be rationalizing away that her wife won’t stay with her through, and post-transition. The idea of it alarmed me, because I think a lot of transwomen want to transition so badly that they kind of glaze over a lot of the realities that might be coming: like a wife who leaves, children who are angry, job loss, etc.
This was my response:
It’s entirely possible for someone to rationalize that she’s going to stick with you through transition, even if you don’t think she will, or if she’s stated she won’t.
That would be a very huge mistake, imho.
I talk to gender therapists sometimes (y’know, for fun) and the cases of wives going ballistic/vengeful are out there. Plenty of them. & While I know you are certain that your wife is an angel of goodness (as am I & all the other partners on here, ahem), you really never know.
Hell hath no fury like a woman whose partner transitions.
But you might replace ‘fury’ with sadness, desperation, frustration, anger, rage, bottomless sorrow.
When I’m feeling coldly rational I think – if Betty transitions, well – I’m only 35 & we have no children. We’re both young enough to find others to love and who love us, & Betty would be better off with a lesbian who loves having a tall, gorgeous woman for a partner instead of me, who really does love & is turned on by her guy self.
And then I think of my wedding pictures, or of the time we went to Scotland when we got engaged, or of when we first met & made a game of making each other guess the name of obscure new wave records, or of how last night she helped me changed the default colors on the new site, or of… many other million things.
& Then I feel angry, & sad, & frustrated, & I want to kick the universe back for the kick it’s given me in the teeth.
Some days, I kick betty instead, when I don’t mean to, but I don’t know what to do with my anger at feeling like I’ve had a really dirty trick played on me, what I was calling for a while ‘the smoothest bait & switch ever perpetrated.’ I mean, I meet the boy of my dreams and it turns out… well you all know how it turns out. The boy of my dreams wants to be 1) the person of my dreams, while also being 2) a woman.
& I don’t see any way out of this that makes any sense. Either he gets what he wants (to be a woman & to be with me) or I get what I want (for him to be something like male, & to be with me). We’ve been traipsing around a middle ground where Betty is sometimes a boy and more often now a girl (even when she thinks she’s passing as a boy, in fact) and right now – it’s like we’re kinda happy. Neither of us is thrilled.
And I consider options: finding a man I could have sex with (but then I realize it’s not about sex). or deciding that having a partner – but maybe not a romantic partner exactly – isn’t so bad (but then I realize I would have ‘married’ one of my gay friends years ago if that was all I wanted). sometimes I think I can live with the burden of being “the reason betty never transitioned” and other days I realize I might, at the end of my days, decide I’ve been a silly, stubborn wretch of a person who put my happiness before betty’s, & how I would regret having done that. some days I think we’re stuck in an O. Henry story with a happy ending, and other days I think we’re stuck in an O. Henry story that has no happy ending, & that – at the end of the day – love & self-sacrifice will not be enough, and that self-sacrifice is just a story, a mug’s game, & just one of the ways we rationalize not making hard decisions about ‘mutual incompatibility’ and all those other things divorce lawyers turn into legalese.
I’m on a partners’ list where a woman who had a hard time supporting her partner’s transition was just told – post-transition – that her partner discovered a desire for men. She will not be the first (or the last) transwoman to discover such a thing, & I’m sure there’s a thread on here somewhere where Dana talks about how that happens (since it happened to her). & when I think about the fact that I might manage going through transition with betty, only to realize that would never happen, I realize too that betty has also told me 1) she didn’t want to be a woman, and 2) that she’d never transition, and 3) well you get the idea. Being with a transperson is all about not knowing what they might figure out next.
So the only way around it, as far as I can figure, is telling Betty that I love her, and trying to dissect what it is that makes me unhappy about having a female partner. There’s the sexual issue. There’s the public identity issue. There’s the “she’s a skinny bitch” issue. There’s the “this brings her so much joy & I only feel sorrow” issue. There’s the feminist issue (because I really don’t see any male partners sticking through transition, no husbands on here wondering what to do when their female wives start taking T.) there’s a lot of compromises I’ve already made & I hate making more. There’s wondering if dealing with this shit is just another version (new & improved & updated for ’05!) of being a doormat.
There’s the fact that often, I feel like with writing the book & making plans to write another, I’ve simply made lemonade out of the lemon I was handed.
& What Dana says – about lies – is all true. You all did lie, maybe to yourselves first & well, & then to us. & to everyone else you know. & though I can forgive that, I don’t know how to not be mad about it.
My goal, you see, is to be able to look at our wedding photos after Betty transitions (if she does) and still be able to say, “That was the best day of my life.” I can’t yet. Right now, I’m going through a period of feeling like it was a sham of sorts. Because Betty’s “self” was. & as a result, I’m not sure who I married.
There is nothing selfish about wanting to be whole. There is nothing wrong, either, with self-expression (though you seemed to take that as my belittling the ‘why’ behind transition, which it wasn’t). what the problem is, is expecting to have the rest of the people in your life be okay with this, to accept your new “self” as having been the only “self” all along. Because we – your partners, your friends – we really liked the old “self.” we fell in love with the old self. We made a commitment to the old self.
& We don’t like being told that there’s a (wo)man behind the curtain, because we feel foolish, tricked, and stupid for having believed the lie.
The only way I live with Betty not transitioning for my sake is to realize that it is, ultimately, her decision. She could gamble & lose. She could gamble & win. But it’s her decision.
Mine is to stay, or to go, to be generous or vindictive. But I can’t change what I’ve been handed at all. Neither can you. & most days, that’s what helps us: is knowing that neither of us wanted this, that both of us would rather have it otherwise, & that all we can do, at the end of the day, is try to find our love somewhere in the shared difficulty of knowing we have to deal with this.
The entire thread is proving to be one of the most thought-provoking to show up on the boards for a while.

Cervical Cancer Vaccine – Blocked?

HPV, or the Human Papilloma Virus, is one cause of cervical cancer among women. Spread by sexual contact like HIV and other STDs, it starts as an infection – which sometimes clears up, and other times predicts cervical cancer.
The good news is that there’s a vaccine against HPV that’s showing up in clinical tests as being very effective in preventing HPV infection (and thus the later cervical cancer it causes). You’d think this would be great news, right?
Well, there’s a sticking point: girls will have to be vaccinated before they’re sexually active, and so the usual group of people who want to deny that women are sexual – or that women get sexual diseases from their husbands – are at it again.

  • “Abstinence is the best way to prevent HPV,” says Bridget Maher of the Family Research Council. She further clarifies: “”Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful, because they may see it as a licence to engage in premarital sex.”
  • God forbid.

  • Parents often think their own daughters are virtuous, and so not in need of the vaccination.
  • As if teenage girls tell their moralistic parents if they’re having sex…

  • Asian women in Britian already resist getting tested for HPV, because if they’re found positive they fear death at their husbands’ hands – when it’s most likely those very same husbands were the ones who infected them. Even though there is screening for the disease, which is effective in treating it before it becomes cervical cancer, the usual suspects prevent treatment. (If women, however, could get vaccinated, there would be no need to get screened later on.)
  • And then there’s this simple fact: the most effective way to keep women from getting HPV and the cervical cancer it causes is for men to get vaccinated. If they can’t get it, they can’t spread it. But of course men themselves aren’t fatally threatened by HPV – only the women they give it to are.

So once again, women will die because of our ass-backwards attitudes about women’s sexuality, about sex in general, and because – well, women’s lives and health are effectively in men’s hands.
You’d think, once in a while, our rational selves would win. The good news is that the new vaccine might be available as early as next year.
Thanks to Betty for sending me the link, to Arthur Silbur for blogging it, and to The New Scientist for the article.