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Old ladies occupying bathrooms
The writing is on the bathroom wall, my friends. The ones who are going to have to do it first are those of us who are least likely to get punched for it: old women.
- Laura Lyster Mensh

By Laura Lyster-Mensh


I've suspected since early last November that I was going to be arrested for something in 2017, I just didn't know quite what. I think I know now.

I'm going to be arrested for using the wrong bathroom. And I hope you'll join me.

The transgender bathroom issue has troubled me. I'm still living my original gender, comfortably, and no one in my family is struggling with their gender identity as far as I know. But that's the point. It can't fall to those who are being discriminated against to do the job of standing up against prejudice.

Those of us who walk up to the choice of "male" or "female" and feel welcome and unafraid inside the one we enter - we are going to have to step up. Well: sit down. Are you with me?

It's going to have to be the old broads. We're going to have to start using "male" bathrooms. Gross. I know. But still.

The writing is on the bathroom wall, my friends. The ones who are going to have to do it first are those of us who are least likely to get punched for it: old women.

No one will dare, I'm guessing, look at my grandmother-like demeanor and ask me to show my genitals to prove I can go in. And if someone DID, they'd have to deal with my matronly face of disapproval. Because I'm a mom. I've been a mom for a long time. And I know how to deal with immaturity and insecurity and lost causes.

This is an issue because some people are being brave enough to be themselves and it has revealed the foolishness of gendered bathrooms. We confuse gender with sexuality and that scares us. We think public bathrooms are about public issues, but we forget that bathrooms are about private things.

When this old lady thinks of someone being harassed in a bathroom for having or lacking the right genitals I am extremely clear that this is no one's business and the problem is those who care so much. If your drapes don't match the upholstery, that's nobody else's never mind. And match-y match-y went out in the '80s.

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This old lady also has enough of a memory to know that people used to hiss and spit over what bathroom people used because of the color of their skin. The idea of urinating in the same room as someone different has caused fighting and fainting before. You know what: we got over it. We'll get over this. There are countries where you could die for choosing the wrong door: this isn't it.

So, with new laws and Supreme Court rulings in the works, I have hatched a plan. I think it is genius. That us old ladies start occupying bathrooms. Just by using them. It's like the Dr. Seuss Sneetches story we read our kids: if you mix and switch enough, everyone loses sight of why the distinctions mattered. Distinctions don't matter, and never really did.

I've chosen what is going to get me arrested in 2017. Because this year we're all going to stand up for something enough to cause a fuss.

Laura Lyster-Mensh lives in Virginia and is a consultant, podcaster, writer and activist. CircumMensam.com

LAUGHING MATTERS: You bet it does! Who said feminists can't be funny? Email your personal essay to editor@womenspress.com , 450 words maximum. See complete guidelines for reader submissions, "click here."





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