Mountain Range And The Heteronormative Agenda
by Ameera S
Tik Tok. Tik Tok. My sensory issues take over as I sit in the Mountain Range library. Every sound is amplified and every conversation begins feeling as though it’s happening inside my ears. As I start taking deep breaths I hear,’Dude, today I walked into the bathroom and the same transgender person was in there. It weirds me out. I feel like they don’t belong in the women's bathroom.’ I immediately became furious. Why would a student invalidate another student's gender identity? I wanted to have my movie moment where I throw my chair to the corner and cause a scene while exclaiming how not ok it is to make transphobic statements; however, aggression doesn’t solve problems. I wasn’t going to stand by as a bunch of ignorant teenagers speak on things they’re uneducated about. Instead of telling them off I approached the table of sophomores and juniors and asked if I could interview the girl that made the statement in the first place.
I asked the girl first why she felt uncomfortable in the bathroom with trans and nonbinary individuals in the first place and she couldn’t give me a clear answer. After talking to her she says,’I feel uncomfortable. I don’t feel like transgender people belong in the women's bathroom. I feel unsafe and I don’t know why. Something feels off. It’s hard for me to get used to.’ I then asked what she felt we could do to make her feel more comfortable and she replied with,’Maybe create a bathroom in our school for transgender and nonbinary people.’
The first thing I thought about was how crazy it was that a straight person felt uncomfortable with someone nonbinary or transgender using the bathroom. Gender identity is confusing and can be difficult to navigate for many individuals. I can only imagine how hard it may be for a student who doesn’t identify with the “women” or “men” label on the front of the bathroom door may feel. Our society frequently tries to put individuals in a box of male and female or push the belief that there are only two genders; though, gender is a spectrum.
A bathroom for nonbinary, transgender, and any individuals who don’t feel comfortable in the women or mens bathroom is a great idea. As a feminine presenting nonbinary individual comfortable with using the women's bathroom, I didn’t even think about the gender dysphoria bathrooms and labels can cause for others in the community.
After this interview I grabbed my stuff and ran to the cafeteria. I looked around to see if any of the nonbinary or transgender individuals I know were on lunch. I looked to my right and saw a classmate of mine who is nonbinary. I then interviewed them and asked them their viewpoint on the matter. They respond with,’I honestly feel extremely uncomfortable using the bathrooms at this school. I am too feminine to use the mens bathroom and often receive glares and slurs when I attempt to use the bathroom, but I feel like the women's bathroom isn’t where I belong. I find myself in a pick your poison situation, but I never fully feel safe or comfortable. I do feel that a bathroom designated for transgender, nonbinary, or any student who doesn’t fit in the women’s or men’s box would be beneficial. I would feel seen.’
Seen. A word that only some Mountain Range students feel applies to them. Often, we become comfortable with the labels that society puts us in that we turn a blind eye to anyone that identifies differently. The major issue is ignorance. As a community, we lack the proper education on LGBTQ issues and care less about things that don’t apply to us. We often think with a heteronormative lense without even intentionally doing so. To fix these issues, we need to have open conversations about gender identity and sexuality and uplift the voices of the students within our community that are facing these issues. Mountain Range’s student body would greatly benefit from a gender neutral bathroom. To all students who don’t feel heard, I see you and I will not rest until you’re seen.