Bathroom Incident #5

It happened again. I went to the bathroom at my job, and this woman who I’ve seen around the office for as long as I’ve been working at this organization (5 years), questioned my place in the women’s bathroom. I’m quite sure that today wasn’t the first time that she’s seen me around, and even though the organization has been growing rapidly, and yes there’s always a new face every week, you would have to try really hard not to notice me for five years.

Anyway, bathroom incident #5 occured today at 10:00am.  I was combing my afro as she was coming in the bathroom, and she did a double take, to make sure that she was in the correct bathroom, then satisfied that yes, it is indeed the women’s bathroom, she asked, “Are you sure you are in the right place?” I was pretty much expecting her to say something after she did a double take, so I asked her, “Are you sure, you’re in the right place?” No response.

Mind you, there’s probably less than 40 people on my floor and the bathrooms are not open to the public. If you’re a visitor, you’d have to go through the receptionist first to even gain access into any of the offices. Basically, it’s very unlikely that I was a confused stranger using the bathrooms. And again, I have been working at this organization for 5 years. I’ve seen this woman around and she has seen me.

Bathroom Incident # 4 occurred last week Monday.  This guy, who I’m 100% certain has seen me around, because we’ve been on the elevator together, I’ve said hello to him and he has said hello to me. So really when I was walking into the women’s, and he was like, “That’s the women’s bathroom,” twice, he doesn’t have an excuse (at this point no one does) because he heard my voice, and quite frankly you’re just a complete dumbass if you’re still confused about my sex/gender after listening to my voice. You would be at least cautious of making any judgments aloud, and thus making a fool of yourself.

Bathroom Incident # 3 occurred in 2005.  The following remark was made when I entered the bathroom, “Now I know why this bathroom feels so masculine,” she said looking straight at me. There aren’t any urinals in the women’s bathroom at my job.  The lighting is state of the art in the bathroom.  However, it’s very cool in the women’s bathroom at my job, and at times “feels” to me pretty sterile. So maybe that was her reasoning behind those words, because I really don’t see how me using the women’s bathroom has suddenly changed the “feel” of it. Under my buttoned down skirt, I have breasts, and beneath my slacks and my underwear, is my pussy.

Bathroom Incident # 2 occurred in 2004. “This is the women’s bathroom. You’re in the women’s bathroom.” I said, “Do you want to come in here with me to check, to make sure?” No response.

Bathroom Incident # 1 occurred in 2003. Combatively, she said over and over again, “You are in the wrong place… You should know better than to use the women’s bathroom. You’re in the wrong place.” I was in complete shock, I didn’t know what to say to her, because I had only been working at the job for at most 3 months.

I work for a successful non-profit arts organization. Even though the workforce is fairly large for a non-profit, it’s not like a big conglomerate where you don’t know (at least by face) a fellow employee. You’d see each other on the elevator, at parties, at all staff meetings, etc. And since, I’ve been working there for the length of time mentioned above, I’m deeply disturbed and disappointed by all of this. Like everyone working full-time, I spend nearly all of my life at this job, and so I should never have to feel this way every time I use the bathroom.  No one should feel like this.

I’ve written about this issue before.  And I’m sure I’ll be writing about it again.

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About Chameleon Grace

Chameleon Grace is a novel that I’ve been working on for quite sometime. I figured if I just put it out there that I’d finally finish it. At the very least, it isn’t just collecting dust on my hard drive anymore. Here’s a little background:

Now transitioning into a new life in New York City, twenty-six year old Njeri Ironside finds herself at a crossroads. As she battles with isolation and displacement, she begins to question her purpose in the city. Her ruminations lead her to memories of her past, growing up in Trinidad, particularly during the period when the country was experiencing dire socio-economic and cultural change. It was a time where her father, a beloved trade unionist, prominent political figure, is at the center of controversy.

Her memories are however clouded by a desire for revenge against an ex-lover, Pieta.

With the lost of Pieta and the community she created in D.C., Njeri is left not knowing where she really belongs, and at times incapable of reconnecting the pieces from the subgroups she had previously niched out for herself in D.C.: black/masculine/woman/Caribbean/dyke/lesbian/working class in the Americas.

Dedicated to my mother.

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