In 2016, any discussion of transgender rights eventually touches on the same topic: Bathrooms, and who gets to use them (even though the answers should be obvious: Everyone gets to use them, and they get to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity). Seriously.TV's "Sitting in Bathrooms with Trans People" isn't the only talk show to address the bathroom panic sweeping the nation, but its surprisingly lighthearted approach makes it stand out. Rather than simply pointing out the flaws in arguments in favor of restricting bathroom access based on gender, host Dylan Marron actually sits down with a trans person in a bathroom for the show, and (shocker!) everything turns out just fine. It's almost like transgender people use bathrooms just like cisgender people — oh, wait. That's exactly how it goes.
The first episode features YouTube star Jackson Bird, whose videos deal with everything from gender identity and sexuality to seeing what foods fit in a waffle iron. (Side note: Sushi and candy bars do surprisingly well, but gummy worms are right out.) A prominent member of the Harry Potter fan community online, Bird came out as transgender in a video last May. In "Sitting in Bathrooms," he talks about his experiences with switching bathrooms — not just the barriers to accessing the men's bathroom in the first place, but figuring out the etiquette once he's there.
"There is the added pressure of... maybe you have to use a stall, and are people going to think something?" he explains, adding that he's pretended to have to poop in the past, just so his fellow bathroom occupants won't question his use of a stall over a urinal.
Despite the fear-mongering rhetoric surrounding what transgender people do in bathrooms, that brief discussion of the "politics of farting" is about as scary as the show gets. Interspersed with more serious discussions of transitioning, Marron and his guest perform a number of cutesy activities: Explaining a few transgender terms over beer, eating waffles next to the urinals, dancing with toilet paper, and so on.
In addition to injecting a sense of lightheartedness into a heavy topic, these jokes highlight the absurdity of the logic behind so-called bathroom bills, which prevent transgender people from using the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity. The legislators creating these bills often rely on a culture of fear, in which transgender individuals are characterized as "perverts" who use their gender identity to prey on helpless bathroom occupants. However, transgender people are the ones whose safety is at stake; according to research, the vast majority of transgender individuals have been denied access to bathrooms, experienced harassment, or even been physically assaulted for using the restroom, while there is no evidence that a transgender person has ever attacked a cisgender person in a bathroom. In short, bathroom bills do nothing to "protect" cisgender people — they just put transgender people at risk.
In the wake of such transphobic legislation, "Sitting in Bathrooms" couldn't have better timing, although it would obviously have been best if the bathroom bills that inspired it didn't exist in the first place. Check out the video below, and keep an eye out for future episodes.
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