There is currently a war being waged over who gets to use which bathroom across these United States. Now, I'm sure it will surprise no one that I believe anyone should be able to use any damn bathroom they want in any situation.
I have helped myself to the men's room, often, when the women's room line was just too long (as it usually is). I haven't been stopped, frisked, arrested or even condemned by my fellow line-waiters (all women). In fact, most women have cheered me on for using the men's room. And when I say men's room, I mean the men's room with stalls, urinals and the potential of some man having his 'thingy' out while I quietly (or not so quietly) use the toilet in the stall.
My thinking is simple: would any person rather I urinate or defecate on myself, while on line, than make use of the many empty stalls in the men's room? I think not.
Now if things were reversed and we were at, say, a Margaret Cho concert, and the guys restroom line was out the door and the women's room was empty...would anyone balk at a guy stepping in to the powder room to do his business? At a Margaret Cho concert? Probs not. But would it be more risque than what I do? Yes, probs.
And women bring small boys into the women's room to chaperone them through the bathroom experience all the time. Just as men bring young girls into the men's room to do the same. These people are usually parents. No one complains. No one balks. Men don't suddenly cease urinating to zip up their flies and huff out of the lavatory upon sight of a prepubescent girl. At least that's not what happened when I was a kid.
The grandest hateful argument against 'letting' trans women (and let's just get something clear here: trans women ARE WOMEN, so this should be a no brainer) use the women's room is that since some of them are pre-op, they might...assault...the cis women in the bathroom.
I've personally heard of three instances of assault in a women's room over the course of my life time. All three were committed by cisgender people -- one man against a woman, and two cis teen girls against another girl (twice). Now, I'm not counting my experience as all encompassing, but let's get something out on the table: CISGENDER people commit crimes in public bathrooms. And since there are about 95% more cisgender people on the planet, this whole trans-phobic reasoning for keeping trans women out of the women's room is preposterous.
For the most part, what goes on in women's bathrooms is supremely boring. There's no talking, no cruising, no interactions, really. Unless you're talking about high school bathrooms which are notoriously dangerous spaces - out of sight from supervision. Personally, I think the walls and doors should be taken off of the bathrooms in high schools and there should just be a series of porta-potty like stalls in the middle of the hall for kids to use, if they need to. Either that or find the funding to put a monitor in every damn bathroom. 'Cause cis kids can act like assholes and school restrooms are not safe spaces for anyone, let alone trans kids.
But overall, for grown ups, if a trans woman wants to wait in a hideously long line to use the exceedingly boring women's bathroom, let her. The only reason I see to complain is that there's just one more body in line waiting for the too few stalls, per usual.
The real reason for the separation dates back to the early 1800s, so far as i understand, when women started patronizing public buildings and need public restrooms (or powder rooms) for themselves. The reason they didn't use the "men's" room is because it was usually an outhouse or the bush in the back, which didn't really suit Victorian clothing mores at the time. It was purely a practical matter, it seems. Well, perhaps a sexist one, too. That women should need more protection when peeing than their male counterparts. But I'm sure as I sit here typing this that trans women in the early 1800s had no problem using the powder rooms when needed. And that trans men had no problem using the outhouse. It's just that now the cat's out of the bag, so to speak, and people KNOW that there are trans men and women using the correct bathroom.
What's next? Genital checks at the entrances to bathrooms? Are we going to start determining what is a woman and what is a man by appearance? Dress? Attitude? Shoes? Use of make up?
To all those who have a problem with trans people using the correct bathroom for their gender, I say: don't use public restrooms, if you're so afraid. Or, better yet, use them, but just use the stalls, so you have privacy. Leave trans folks alone so they can use the bathroom in peace, which will let you use the bathroom in peace too.
Pee in Peace.