Leslie McMurrayI’m pissed off; I’m perplexed, and I’m scared. I’ll try and sort out what’s swirling in my pretty little head.

On Feb. 28, a female member of the Planet Fitness in Midland, Mich., complained to management about someone who “looked like a man” being in the women’s locker room. The woman who made the complaint ultimately had her membership revoked, with Planet Fitness officials citing as their reason the woman’s disruptive activities in warning other female members that the gym might let “men” into the women’s locker room facilities.

Planet Fitness has a policy of “No Judgment” and permits members to use whatever facilities match their “sincere, self-reported gender.”

Fine. But honestly, I’m conflicted.

I have held off on addressing this. My fear was that the person in the locker room was a cross-dresser, and that’s what she appears to be: no hormones, no transition.

To me, that is abuse of the privilege and is exactly what the opposition wanted in order to illustrate their point that “men” who “feel like a woman today” can waltz into women-only spaces with impunity.

That makes me sick.

Where do you draw the line? I have been on hormones for years now. I’ve had years of therapy, gender reassignment surgery, breast augmentation and electrolysis. I’m a broke — but happy — woman.

I work out at a gym and use the ladies locker room, but I also have a vagina. I’m not sure if that should be a requirement, but discretion sure should be if you have the original equipment.

Should we require hormones? OK, for how long? Who checks?

The best I can come up with is that if you are irrevocably committed to living your life as a woman, then come on in. If you are trying it on? Do us all a favor and stay out.

This whole thing really pisses me off.

Living in Texas, where too many people would like to see us all dead, I sure as hell don’t need anyone making my life more difficult than it already is. I am so careful and so respectful; I don’t think that it’s too much to ask for others to be the same way.

Right now, one bad apple really can screw it up for all of us.

At the risk of sounding elitist, I find a parallel to breaking the color barrier in baseball. Prior to 1947, Major League Baseball was a whites-only sport. African-American players were assumed to be lesser. To prove otherwise, the first one to break the color barrier had to be excellent, to be able to put up with the abuse and do it with grace.

Jackie Robinson disproved the fear that baseball would be ruined, or that he couldn’t compete.

The trans-female community needs to have women who are beyond reproach, who are respectful and graceful break the gender barrier, and then the others will be accepted.

But if cross-dressers bulldoze into gender-segregated spaces acting like jerks we are dead. Laws will pass so quickly it will make our heads spin.

I’m scared, and I’m pissed, and I don’t have a ready answer.

I want to be respectful of the struggle of my sisters, but I see girls all the time who have no business in a women’s room. Hell, I would run screaming from there in some cases. We need to understand that something as innocuous as clearing your throat can cause a stampede.

I just don’t want to load the opposition’s gun for them. If this kind of stuff keeps up, it will just be too easy for them, and a lot of people’s hard work and sacrifices will go down the drain.
Women say they need to feel safe in a locker room or ladies restroom. I agree! It is our responsibility to make sure they feel safe!

If I see someone standing to pee in a women’s room, I will throw their ass out. We really need to police our own — or surely the bigots will eagerly do it for us.

So, what’s the answer? I don’t really know.

Perhaps we need to stop being 100 percent focused on our “rights” and instead focus equally on our “responsibilities.” If we expect to be welcomed into female spaces, we need to do everything in our ability to blend in and be just another woman there. Behave and dress appropriately.

Are you going in the bathroom at Kroger at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning? Look around you in the store; most other women are wearing jeans, or leggings and a comfortable top, and sneakers or other casual shoes. Are you 6-foot-3 and sporting a too-tight, way-too-short skirt, fishnets and sky-high heels, with a nice beard shadow to match?

Check yourself. There is a time and a place for everything, and that ain’t it.

I’m not trying to be mean, truly, but if that describes you, you stand out like you are wearing a neon sigh that says “Cross-Dresser.”

Our safety, freedom and maybe our lives depend on your discretion.

I’ve kept my mouth shut on this until now because I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I don’t want to hurt feelings, and I’m not naming names, but it’s reached the point where the risk of ruffling a few feathers is outweighed by necessity. Because too many lawmakers are loading up to deal us a crushing blow and we are teetering on the edge of completely losing the battle of public opinion.

We must teach them that we are not a threat. But to do that, we must look, act and live the part of the women we are. Help your sisters out. Our safety, freedom and maybe our lives depend on it.

Right now today, there are two bills — HB 1747 and HB 1748 — in the Texas Legislature that would make it a Class A misdemeanor for any individual over the age of 13 to “enter a locker room, shower facility or toilet facility that is designated for use by persons of a gender that is not the same gender as the individual’s gender.” Under Texas law, a Class A misdemeanor can be punished by a fine of up to $4,000 and up to a year in jail.

Those two bills also target any “operator, manager, superintendent or other person with authority over a building,” stipulating that they may not allow anyone to enter a locker room, shower facility or toilet facility that does not match their gender. Any facility owner who does allow such access has committed a state jail felony. Texas law allows a sentence of 180 days to two years in state jail.

There is a “bounty bill” like the one proposed in Kentucky that has been introduced as well, and one targeting students in schools.

The religious right knows they have lost the marriage equality fight. We are their new targets of hate — and we are just handing the victory to them.
On that, there is no confusion.

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 March 20, 2015.