Current news about Bathroom Bills and silly videos like “Sitting in Bathrooms with Trans People Ep. 1” reminded me of how the Silicon Valley company where I worked decades ago managed the bathroom question.
Our company loved to dress up for Halloween. One year, Angel*, a very tall Hardware Diagnostics staff member came to work on Halloween dressed as a woman. Up until then, we had thought of Angel as a man, so when he loomed over all of us wearing platform shoes and a dress, it was considered a very good costume. The next day and after that, Angel continued to dress as a woman. For most of us, this was our first experience with a Transgender person and there was initial confusion; however, we had work to do and most of us ignored Angel’s transition as being none of our business.
Then, we noticed Angel using the staff break area sink for tooth brushing. When I asked why not brush in the bathroom, Angel said that the men in our building objected to sharing the Men’s Rooms and had forbidden her access. Angel said she waited until she got home to use the toilet but that she wanted to brush her teeth after meals.
The next week, the women staff (Engineers, Managers, Support, and Administration) went to lunch together to discuss what to do. A few days later, several of the women met with Angel and offered her use of the Women’s Rooms. Angel agreed. The only real change in behavior was after that, the women used bathroom stalls for privacy when changing clothes. The men continued to be rude to Angel but at least she had a place where she could brush her teeth and use the toilet at work.
Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson