An open letter to the Texas Legislature

Posted on 29 Apr 2016 at 7:50am

(Or, ‘The Donkey in the Bathtub’)

Donkey-in-bathtub

 

Leslie McMurrayDear Lawmakers: What have we, as transgender people, actually done to frighten you so much? I mean, what have we actually done that is making you consider taking up precious time that should be allotted to conducting important business for the great state of Texas to instead enact cruel, pointless and potentially harmful laws against a group of people that comprises .3 percent of the population?

What is it that we have done? Why do we scare you so?

Look, I am concerned about the health and safety of women and children, too. Matter of fact, I think everyone should be permitted to live their lives without fear of violence or intimidation.

But “everyone” includes trans people, too. And the simple truth is, trans people are no threat.

Enacting mean-spirited laws to inhibit our ability to obtain proper identity documents or to somehow regulate which bathroom we use or to try and tell us who we really are will do nothing but harm to a vulnerable and already marginalized population.

We need your help; we need your protection. We don’t need your foot on our necks. Our lives are difficult enough as it is.

During the last session of the Texas Legislature, four bills were introduced that would criminalize bathroom usage by transgender people. Rhetoric supporting those bills hammered on the idea that these new laws are necessary to protect women and children from predators in restrooms.

And yet, there isn’t a single documented case of a trans woman attacking another woman or a child in a restroom. Believe me, I’ve looked. Don’t you think that if there was even one that it would be plastered everywhere as evidence of “the evil that lurks in stall No. 2”?

Fact is, Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert all by himself is more of a threat to children than all the transgender women put together! When it comes to bathroom hi-jinx former Idaho Sen. Larry Craig — another Republican — has actually given far more reason to keep lawmakers out of public restrooms than transgender people ever could.

Look, I understand — you want to protect something. But shouldn’t you be looking someone or something that actually needs protection and make laws about that? I used to do a regular radio show and one of the bits we’d do was making fun of “Stupid Laws.” For instance:

• It is against the law in Alaska to push a live moose out of a moving airplane.

• It is against the law in Arizona for donkeys to sleep in bathtubs. Although, I’m not sure who gets the citation — the donkey, or it’s owner?

• It is against the law in the small town of Chico, Calif., to detonate a nuclear device within the city limits. They’ll fine you $500 if you do.

Sure, we laugh at these stupid laws and at the men who debated and passed these bits of legislative nonsense. Are donkeys in bathtubs really that big an issue in Arizona? Is that a thing?

I can tell you with 100 percent confidence that you are less likely to find a transgender woman posing a threat to children and other women in a public restroom than you are to find a donkey sleeping in a bathtub. So if Texas needs a law to keep trans people out of public restrooms, then perhaps we need a law to keep donkeys out of bathtubs, too.

And of course, a donkey in a bathtub isn’t necessarily the same thing as an ass in a bathtub. I’m thinking Texas definitely needs a law to keep asses out of the Legislature.

I’m originally from California and while I’ve been to Chico, I’ve never felt the need to detonate a nuclear device in their town — not because of the $500 fine; it just wouldn’t be right.

I love Dallas. It’s my home now. I’ve lived in Houston as well, and travelled this state from one end to the other. I’ve met many interesting and wonderful people. I have also used the women’s restroom in more places than you can count — all without incident.

I never felt the need to attack anyone. I just needed to pee, maybe take a minute to fix my hair, then wash up and leave.

And before you go running off half-cocked and try to solve a problem that doesn’t actually exist, you need to know another thing about trans people: There are trans MEN!

Yep. Guys. Burly guys with tattoos and cowboy hats. Wearing wife beaters and jeans and sporting nice, thick, bushy beards.

Do you really want to force these guys into the women’s room?

They don’t want to be in the women’s restrooms any more than I want them there. They are dudes. They have their own room. Let them go in there and leave us ladies to ourselves.

Besides, by avoiding a needless trip to Bigotville, you can help your state avoid the wrath of individuals — like Bruce Springsteen — who have had it up to here with official oppression and legislative bullying. And  companies like Pay Pal, Wells Fargo and the NBA who won’t stand for it.

Don’t make the same mistake North Carolina did. We are better than Mississippi. (Really, we are. I checked.)

Texas isn’t immune from enacting our own Stupid Laws. For instance, the entire Encyclopedia Britannica is banned in Texas because it contains a formula for making beer at home.

But please, don’t add another Stupid Law to the books. Spend your time during the next legislative session wisely; we have plenty of real problems that need to be addressed .

Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in Dallas. Read more of her blogs at lesliemichelle44.wordpress.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 29, 2016.

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