May those who think they are doing good and being “biblical” by supporting these unimaginably cruel Texas Bathroom Bills take the time to reconsider and repent in the name of our shared humanity.
Dear Thoughtful Pastor: The Texas Legislature is considering regulating who uses what restroom. Lawyers and law enforcement say this is a non-issue because any threat to safety—such as assault and voyeurism—is already illegal. Teachers say the only privacy at risk is the transgender child’s whose already marginalized identity will be made a public issue in front of their classmates. However, many of the proponents for this legislation are people of faith. What does my faith say about how we should treat our transgender neighbors?
It is a universal truth, to be acknowledged by all, that every single human being on earth needs to urinate and defecate periodically. It is also a universal truth that all those past early childhood prefer to engage in those mandatory bodily functions in safe and private environments and as free as possible from residue left by others.
A second universal truth: young children and those with physical limitations may need help to perform those functions. Often the helper is not born with the same sexual appearance as the one needing help.
A third universal truth: when powerful people deny access to opportunities to engage in such necessary bodily acts, the likelihood of ill-health, not to mention public embarrassment, as a result of such denials grows exponentially.
A fourth universal truth: those who make it their mission to bar safe and private facilities to all have committed themselves to acting with extraordinary and merciless cruelty toward others.
The solution to the “Texas Bathroom Bill” horrors
The solution is mind-bendingly simple. Many parts of the world have long since figured this out. Provide ample private stalls which anyone may use. Build enough adequately spacious ones that more than one person can comfortably fit when necessary.
My husband and I recently returned from travels that took us into multiple countries bordering the Baltic Sea. In many places there, as well as other places we have seen, toileting facilities are not “sexed” or limited to one particular type of physical elimination possibilities.
Instead, we all enter the main door to the “WC” (water closet), find an open, fully private stall with no way to peer over or under as most US bathroom designs feature, do our business, emerge, wash our hands and leave. It is easy to tell when a private space is open because the locks indicate when the facility is in use.
Yes, those of us used to more restricted facilities do have to get over an initial discomfort factor. However, once this practice is normalized, it becomes no big deal. Also, this option solves multiple “potty parity” issues that have long bedeviled those born with less accessible urinating apparatus. In our current system, one line of the restricted facilities will nearly always have double or triple the waiting time of the other.
This option is also a simple recognition that all humans deserve to be offered dignity and privacy when performing those essential functions.
You want to be biblical? Pick up your trowels
If we need to be “biblical” about this, then let us indeed start observing this procedure, found in Deuteronomy 23: “You shall have a designated area outside the camp to which you shall go. With your utensils you shall have a trowel; when you relieve yourself outside, you shall dig a hole with it and then cover up your excrement” (Deut. 23:12-13, NRSV).
People of faith must stand to up all who would deny any human being access to those safe and private spaces. Cruelty to others is never, ever a virtue of faith. Those who claim these bathroom bills are being “Christian” or “loving” or “being safe to others” have utterly deluded themselves.
I admit to this fantasy concerning those political and religious leaders who want to deny such safety and privacy to some. When these leaders enter the afterlife, they find themselves experiencing full bladders and urgently pressing bowels. They stand before a series of pristine and private toileting facilities. However, although others freely enter and leave, each time they approach a door, they find a locked, impenetrable barrier.
In time, they unavoidably soil themselves with the byproducts of their impressively efficient digestive functions. Compassionate, non-gender signifying people clean them, dress them in fresh clothes, and send them on their way.
When the inevitable needs to urinate and defecate hit again, the same nightmare repeats itself. The cycle continues until they throw themselves upon the undeserved mercy of those they so egregiously harmed in this life and acknowledge their wrongdoing.
At that point, the doors to the facilities forever show the “open” sign, offering free access to all who wish to enter.
May those who think they are doing good and being “biblical” by supporting these unimaginably cruel Texas Bathroom Bills take the time to reconsider and repent in the name of our shared humanity. There is no justification for these actions.
Photo Credit: A creative commons photo via Visual Hunt