Thursday, January 12, 2012

Let My People Pee!

 If you live in New Jersey, like I do, chances are that over the course of any week in the year, you will find some reason to curse the day you ever moved here. Or if you were born here, you feel that it is your God-given right to bitch and moan about our fair state in a sort of half-bragging way, such as “Hey, it’s Jersey-if you don’t like it don’t let the toll booth gate hit you on the way out, you mook!”  This statement is almost always followed with a hyperbolically extended middle finger thrust proudly in the direction of the offender of the state. Here, and only here, is the state bird, well...the bird. The implication is that you, the outsider, are not tough enough to survive in the Garden State, and this, by the way, is probably true. In most cases it would be better for the mental health of you and your family if you actually did leave. Of course, there will be a small “leaving fee” for doing so in the form of a toll.

Such outbursts from our citizenry are usually the result of some pent-up frustrations over the friggin husband, the friggin wife, the friggin kids, the friggin shore traffic, the hump of a boss, or the friggin job. Often, they have a tendency to flare-up, especially in legendary, bumper to bumper Friday night Shore traffic. And sometimes these disagreements will escalate into full-scale civil violence; or as we Jerseyans like to call it, Monday.

My state, my home, is famous, and sometimes notoriously so, for corrupt governments, organized crime, smog, high taxes, The Shore, and some of the best rock and roll EVER. Our ‘attitude’, known throughout the land, and indeed the world, has been forged over the centuries, dating right back to the American Revolution, when Washington crossed the icy Delaware River. It was here that the Father of our Country uttered those famous words as he prepared his Christmas Eve surprise raid; “Friggin snow, friggin ice, friggin British, friggin Hessians. Yet despite this glorious link to the birth of our nation, we have been relegated to second-class citizen status by virtue of having to be tucked in between New York and Philadelphia, two cities that know nothing about good pizza. And so, we are perpetually pissed off at everyone.
 If you are transgendered, you might be surprised to know that Jersey is also one of the more progressive states in the country when it comes to guaranteeing us our civil rights. Let me explain. And Tennessee, I WANT Y’ALL TO PAY PARTICULAR ATTENTION! That’s right, you heard me. Put down the Bibles and Jack Daniels and listen up! Don’t make me come down there!

Being one of ‘us,’ to quote Bette Davis, “ain’t for sissies”. Ask any person whose been through the mental probing, the physical prodding, the shame and embarrassment some of us have endured (not to mention the physical violence), the alienation from family, including our own children, if the journey has been easy. Talk to them about  general sense we have of walking through life just wanting to feel 'normal' when the world views us as anything but that. Ask them, if there was a way to avoid these things, would they take it? I am fairly certain that you would be hard-pressed to find someone who would say no. We understand all of that before we undertake this sometimes wonderful and occasionally horrible journey. We don’t ask for special treatment, because we damn well know it wouldn’t come our way even if we did. All we ask, all we ever ask is that you treat us with the dignity and respect that all human beings deserve. All we expect is that we be afforded the same rights as everyone else. All we want is equality. Sometimes, and in some places, we get it, but in Tennessee we sure don’t.

One of the happiest days of my life was the day I opened my mailbox and found my new birth certificate from the Great State of New Jersey. I tore the envelope open like a kid with a Christmas present might. There, as big as day, was my new name and the word  Female, in beautiful, bold letters. This silly piece of paper, issued by an anonymous bureaucrat somewhere in the bowels of the Trenton State House, changed my life. It gave me a sense of euphoric validation to know that I could go anywhere in the world and It would know me as Julia Scotti, Female. I could marry a man, if I so desired, or be civilly unionized to a woman under New Jersey law. It made me feel normal, because from that moment on, everywhere I went, no one could ever again question me about my gender. And if it was good enough for Trenton, then it better be good enough for everyone else.

Something else occurred to me on that day, which I need to share with you. The fact that my gender could be legally recognized with such a trivial action as a couple of keystrokes on a state employee’s computer makes the whole idea of gender laughable. We are what our hearts and minds tell us we are, and the state of New Jersey, in its own weird and wonderful way, gets that. Gender has very little to do with genitalia and nearly everything to do with state of mind. Gender is a state of mind caused by wiring in the brain. Tennessee, on the other hand, is a state which seems to be losing its mind.

Okay, I’ve teased you enough. I can hear the collective “Alright already, what did Tennessee do to piss you off this time, Julia?” emanating from my screen. Are you ready? Here it is.

With all the other social issues facing the people in Tennessee (it ranks 46th in the nation’s education ratings, for example), the General Assembly has decided that the biggest danger facing their constituents is who uses their public bathrooms. And so on January 10th, they introduced HB2279 (hereafter referred to as the ‘Toilet Paper’ by me) which states that the bill

“...restricts access to public restrooms and public dressing rooms designated by sex to members of that particular sex.”

And by ‘sex’, the Toilet Paper defines it this way 

            “Sex” means and refers only to the designation of an individual person as male or female as indicated on the individual’s birth certificate;

Coincidentally, the very same legislature passed a law in 1977, which makes it impossible for transgender folk to get their birth certificates changed to match their ‘sex’.

This is what these idiots are getting paid for? This is what the citizens of Tennessee get for their tax money? Are they that concerned that a bunch of us ‘abominations’ are going to start gang-molesting innocent people in the public bathrooms of Chattanooga? Come on people!

So if they pass the Toilet Paper Bill and it becomes Toilet Law, does that mean that every person will have to carry their birth certificate to the can, or be turned away by a police officer stationed outside the door? Don’t you understand, General Assembly, that transgender folk will have no choice but to pee on the floor of the bar? Think of the chaos that will ensue. It’s just pee for crying out loud, SO LET MY PEOPLE GO!

So stupid. So absolutely friggin stupid. Oh it just frosts my pumpkin! And I have no idea what that means, but it sounds ‘down home’ so I’m leaving it in.

I want to leave you with one quick story before I wrap this diatribe up. Just before Nina, my mother died, we happened to be reminiscing about the day I was born. The conversation went something like this.

“Ma, you know that one of my biggest regrets is that I could never carry a baby or give birth. But I’m happy with how it all turned out, overall.”

“You know Julia, all the while I was carrying you, I was sure you were going to be a girl.”

“What? You never told me that.”

(Laughing) “Well I never told anyone. But all through the labor, I knew I was having a girl. In fact even after you were born, and the doctors told me that I’d had a boy, I kept insisting that you were a girl!”

“Wow. I wish you’d have told me that story years ago. It would have made my life a whole lot easier. I guess you got your girl after all, huh?”

I guess I did. And you are a fine daughter. I’m very proud of you.”

I guess mothers know their kids better than the kid does sometimes. My mother, who had no college degree and led a very sheltered life, knew something about the baby inside of her that transcended appearances. She had a connection to a spiritual force, the essence of what makes us the people we are. And though she didn’t quite understand what had happened to me, she knew that it was the right thing.

Tennessee General Assembly, you know what the right thing is too. Don’t hurt innocent people by degrading them this way. Look inside yourself to find the decency that will allow transgendered people to maintain the simple dignity of relieving themselves in a place where they feel comfortable and safe. Above all, leave us alone and go fight the battles that really matter to your citizens; hunger, poverty, homelessness, a good education and a good job. Those are the things that matter. Take HB2279 and flush it down the toilet. That’s where it belongs.

And hey New Jersey...thanks for being you. Now, Get the frig outta here!

That’s it. I’m done bitching. Everybody hug, everybody eat. Abbondanza!    




1 comment:

  1. I loved this Julia. I am not a Native of NJ but have grown to think of it as home largeky because I can be me here. I have been bithing all day about the Tennessee Legislature and feel slightly guilty. My ancestors helped settle TN and a great Uncle of mine was one of their first 2 senators. I am always agrrevated when a state, county or municipality is trying to pass equal rights legislation. There is always a Rep. Floyd who stands up and starts with the "bathroom bill" crap (pun intended. Tennessee takes it a step farther and tries to enact legislation aimed at keeping me from peeing while in public places.
    This always bothered me until I realized
    something. Some great argument in favor of birth control stands up and saya "I don't want my wife and daughter exposed to that in a public restroom." - I always thought to myself, exposed to what? I don't know about you but I go into the restroom, enter the stall make my bladder gladder, make sure my clothes are in place, exit the stall wash my hands, perhaps check my makeup and hair then leave. I wonder what these guys do in public restrooms? Now whenever I see something like this I find a address for the unfortunate politician that is suffering from cranial rectitus and write and ask them to please tell me what it is they do in pubic restrooms. I'd like to know, it might be worthwhile to dress up like a guy just to watch the show. So far no one has answered my posts.
    I did realize why this keeps coming up though. Some schmuck up in Maine was droning on about how my uninary habits well cause the breakdown of western civilization. I had an epiphany... No wonder people hate the transgender community. They are afraid of us. Just think about it... We have so much power that we can destroy western civilization simply by peeing. With that kind of power what would we be capable of doing if we put our minds to it! Keep up the great posts, I gotta go back and read some of them I've missed. Bobbi