I imagine you can’t read the engraving on that bracelet. That’s okay. We’ll get back to that.
At the risk of being self-referential twice in a row, I had an experience this week that seemed worth sharing. I have been fortunate, particularly given where I live, that I have never previously experienced any overt institutional discrimination. I did spend 22 months out of work and it seems likely that there were plenty of opportunities denied to me, but I have no evidence of that. Also, I’m qualified to be a secondary school teacher but I don’t even bother to try that. Still, that’s a broad general issue and not something that was specifically done to me personally. I’m also not including encounters with the occasional bigoted individual, that’s a different sort of thing altogether because it’s not a question of institutional power.
So let me tell you the story of my first encounter with this problem that so many trans people deal with on a much more regular basis. You know about my injury and recovery from my last post. At the end of mine outpatient rehab schedule I was given a referral to the local wellness center in order to continue pool therapy at their indoor pool. So in all good faith I wobble myself down to the center to sign up. Everything goes well and there seems to be no problem with my application. However when I go back the next day to visit the pool, one of the managers informs me as I’m about to enter the ladies locker room that I will need to go to the other one. I state respectfully that I’m not going to do that and asked for the name of the supervisor to whom he reported. He had claims that state law required them to do it that way and when I visited his supervisor she also made the same claim. After some discussion of potential accommodations, which I do not feel I owe them that, bu I agreed to in the effort to show good faith, I was told that she would meet with the team at the center the next day to work out the particulars and she would give me her decision by the end of the week.
Well, when she called she did not in fact present to me arrangements for the accommodations we had discussed but rather informed me that I was welcome to use the gender neutral restroom to change before and after my pool session. The problem with this is that said restroom is on the opposite side of the gym floor from the pool and locker rooms. In other words my option, if I want to use the pool, is to parade myself in my swimwear through the gym both ways demonstrating to any occupants very bluntly that there is something “wrong” with me that I can’t use the locker room that “normal” women use. They even insisted that I use the hallway which passes the men’s locker room door to get to the pool and not the hallway that passes the women’s locker room door, even though in their arrangement I would not be entering either one. I don’t see how they could be any more blatant in attempting to ostracize me, likely in the hopes that I will just go away.
Obviously, I’m not going to abide by those “accommodations” so I ask for her to have the corporate lawyer email me a reference to the law or regulation which they claim to be following and upon her agreement I hang up. I’m mulling to myself exactly what I want to do. It’s an awfully small town to be starting a conflict with one of the institutions of the community but at the same time I don’t believe that such a law or regulation actually exists and if it does it needs to be challenged. I really am, at that point, undecided whether or not I want to try to force a change of policy. So, here is where things get interesting. After receiving the call, we go to visit the local Salvation Army thrift store. What I found there on this occasion was the bracelet in the picture.
It reads “Speak Out”.