I asked Joe if he wouldn’t mind, I always finish first, if I rolled back to the accessible washroom to ensure the tanks were dry before getting on the wee plane. He just happily continued on with his breakfast then as I took off.
I had just come to the door of the accessible room, one of those separate from either the men’s or women’s bathroom, when the door opened.
I don’t know why he made the choice he did, safety probably, but there may have been other reasons as well.
He was explaining that he knew the washroom was primarily for disabled people but that he had chosen to use the washroom because, and here his voice faltered. Just for a moment he couldn’t speak. Just for a moment I saw how hard the world he lived in was. Just for a moment I got a glimpse of the weight of prejudice that he carried on his shoulders. Just for a moment.
All I said was, “The best thing about these bathrooms is that the toilet doesn’t care who pees in it.” He looked at me, and I knew he saw a transgender man of a seasoned age, disabled or not, he couldn’t predict how I would see him or react to him being in ‘my’ bathroom.
But it’s not my bathroom.
And I wanted him to know that. I know what it’s like to have people deny me the space I need.
So I don’t understand what he experiences on a day to day basis but I know what I do – and that gives hint enough.
He thanked me for understanding. I thanked him for his thanks but turned it down.
“The world would be a better place if we all just learned to share space, don’t you think? That’s all I did, and you don’t have to thank me for it.”
“The toilet doesn’t care, does it?” he said and laughed a bit.
“Well, when I sit on it, it complains a little,” I said, “but no, it doesn’t care.”
“Take care of yourself,” he said.
“You too,” I said.
My the world, one day, be safe for all of us.