From ‘Ask Amy’, in the Winston-Salem Journal:
Dear Amy: Recently, I was in a public restroom at a large convention center in an area where no one else was around. Upon entering the restroom, a gentleman came out of the stall. I was rather uncomfortable and was about to blurt out, “Excuse me, but this is a ladies room.”
But then it occurred to me that this person might be very masculine looking. He or she was wearing a baseball cap and very manly clothing.
I stopped myself because I did not want to be insulting, but I was also uncomfortable and nervous. I don’t care if the person was transsexual, but if it was in fact a man, I would have felt very unsafe.
What should I do if such a thing happens again in the future? — Catherine in Chicago
From Amy’s response:
If you think a man is in the ladies room, you should tell security personnel. If the person is in fact a woman, a security person can face the consequences of the misunderstanding.
And if the security personnel doesn’t believe that the person is a woman even if the person’s ID says female? Then you have unjustifiably subjected the person to machinations of the criminal (in)justice system – outing the person (if stealth) and burning up what little money the person might have in savings.
And that’s all in addition to the very real dangers of rape and other life-threatening physical horror that the person will face if incarcerated with men for even five minutes.
Still, I’m more interested in Catherine’s purported concern: “if it was in fact a man, I would have felt very unsafe.”
Catherine, you say that you wouldn’t have cared if the person was a transsexual. However, either the person was a danger to you or the person wasn’t. Either you felt unsafe or you didn’t. In such a situation, taking time to determine whether or not the person may have – or may have once had – a penis exponentially increases the magnitude of any danger that actually might have been present.