You may have heard the grim statistics on how many transgender teenagers have attempted suicide or died by suicide: 40%. Here’s another statistic: when transgender teenagers have supportive family and community, that rate plummets. If their families are supportive, it is no different than in non-trans kids. A community that accepts and supports transgender people and their families saves lives.
So, upon coming back to a United States that is even more hostile than before to transgender folks, I proposed to the Board a way we can make a real difference in the lives of transgender people, and model supportive community, while also making the church more welcoming to women, people caring for small children, and people assisting family members: redesign some of our restrooms to be open to all genders. I am happy to report that the Board supports this proposal and, at its February meeting, authorized the Buildings & Grounds Committee to investigate two options for changing the restrooms closest to the office to all-gender restrooms.
It will be a welcome change. In the hostile climate of today’s America–from which the Bay Area is, sadly, not immune–“bathroom bills” promote simplistic and inaccurate ideas about gender: for example, that the gender noted on one’s birth certificate is the gender that matches one’s identity. We now know that that is simply not true–the obstetrician sometimes gets it wrong. Just as we provide restrooms that are accessible to people of a wide variety of physical abilities, our values of hospitality and equality compel us to provide restrooms for everyone here regardless of gender identity. We want the numerous transgender, genderqueer, intersex, or gender-expansive members, friends, and visitors at UUCPA to know that whatever restroom they judge to match their gender is open to them. For some, the most comfortable option is “all genders welcome.”
An all-gender restroom is an improvement as well for a man who assists his wife in the restroom because of her disability; a woman who is caring for her young sons; women who wait in line for the restroom during the intermission of a concert while the men’s room next door is empty. (We’ve all been there, ladies–am I right?)
The Board, Dan and I will welcome your input and suggestions as we move with all deliberate speed towards “potty parity” and a campus that more fully reflects our values of the inclusion and celebration of all people. And please, thank your Board of Trustees for using their role to promote justice, love and equity.