“…It’s great… you have all these abilities… your education is high mark… You’ll be a great addition to the Seasonal IT Team.” Then out of nowhere, as if it was an off-handed remark one might make to their chums, “And what restroom do you use?”
“What restroom do you use? Do you use the men’s or the women’s?” That question still sticks with me to this day. “What restroom do you use?” As if I were some damn invader to the porcelain border. As if I were an extraterrestrial from the planet trans. As if I lifted up my armpit to defecate rather than releasing from below.
That one question haunts me to this day, as did what happened next, “I am female? I use the women’s restroom? Have so for years?” All said as questions instead of as the statements and answers they should have been. I had regressed to being a child in front of an authority figure. For the life of me I became a Valley Girl.
Sensing weakness, the HR Director leaped upon my social chum as the shark he was, “Well you’re not a woman, technically and we believe, and “we” I mean the company, would feel it would be more appropriate for our actual female employees if you used the men’s restroom during your time here. That would prevent any potential discomfort for the women here,” he waived his hand at his dolled-up compatriots—Latina eye-candy and no brains. All of these women said nothing during the course of this discussion and said even less when I had used the women’s restroom during orientation. One had even asked me in said restroom about my makeup. Another had commented on my skirt and another my hair. I thought it was good juju all around. Not this asshole. I was a boy in a dress. He was a man cut from God’s own scrotum. He could say whatever he wanted to dominate the faggot in front of him. His balls were too goddamn big to be crossed by any liberal policy.
In the moment, I took yoga like breaths. The deeper, calmer, the better, anything to stifle the tears trying to make a break from my eyes. I had a few close calls over the past few years at that point. Somehow being put on the spot for my bathroom politics by a Bill Lumbergh wannabe seemed a touch worse than being beaten up in a back alley or nearly raped by a druggy in my own apartment. This was supposed to be a civilized society, was it? It took every ounce of self-control not to leap over the desk and choke the white suburbanite slob.
I wish I could say this happened during the mid-1990’s, another far off time when people like us were still relatively new. I wish I could say that. Unfortunately, this occurred in 2011, two days after the state of Nevada had passed a law making it illegal for any employer to ask such a question of anyone of any gender, regardless of being trans or not. It was heavily debated and, in the news, everywhere at the time. Everywhere but where this H.R. Director with the 780AM KOH banners and FOX news bumper stickers got his news.
This was during the height of the recession. I had been out of work for longer than I care admit. Payments from unemployment insurance was at a bare minimum since the rate of unemployed in Nevada had spike well above the national average (14.5%). When the call from the warehouse IT department came in, I thought I was giving a lifeline, that my struggles were at an end. It was a job that paid more than my unemployment and it was temp-to-hire to boot. I didn’t care that it meant running around a warehouse to fix printers and computers, it was a light out of the darkness. Then to be blindsided broke my heart. I wasn’t deluded. I knew there was an underlying, unspoken reason my interviews went nowhere. I just didn’t need to be punched in gut by it.
I would like to say I stood my ground. I would like to say I put that bastard in his place, got an apology and a raise, and he ended in some gulag somewhere making knock off iPhones and third-rate sneakers. I would like to say that, but I can’t. At a time of desperation, I was forced to swallow my pride. The H.R. Director took full advantage of this because he could. Had I caused any disturbance of any kind, there was a strong chance I couldn’t get employed anywhere else. He knew it. I knew it. I was stuck.
For the next three miserable months I had to use the men’s restroom. I had to suffer to the odd looks from the men inside as they busied themselves at the urinals. I would have to take in the spurn and laughter from the women as I exited. Not a day went by I had hoped for a pallet to fall on me or the sorter to take off one of my hands, so I didn’t have to be there.
When I was promptly laid off the day after New Year’s, I wanted nothing more to do with that warehouse, and that asshole. The cosmos wasn’t done screwing with me. Six months later, still unemployed except for a few day assignments here and there, I was called back to the warehouse for two months to fill-in temporarily for a full-time technician who was out on sick leave. The H.R. Director was the one to call and gave me his version of an apology: “…I have good news, this time you can use the women’s restroom.” Part of me wanted to say to tell him to “Piss off.” To take the job and shove it up sideways. I didn’t, obviously.
Sadly, because I had no other options and didn’t want to get kicked off my meager unemployment insurance, I accepted the assignment OEM genitalia tucked between my legs. This would be my MO for the next two years, off and on, until I found a permanent job somewhere else, which had its own trials and tribulations. The least of which not being about where I shat and pissed.
While I received a five cent an hour pay-raise each time I was called back—totaling a whopping fifty cents more than minimum wage—there was another crink in the universe. By the time of my last contract with the warehouse, the H.R. Director was given a substantial six-figure salary, stock options, an executive level position, and an award for “Most Diverse Workplace”. Apparently fortune favors the dickish.
In the early 2000’s Elizabeth Duluoz graduated from college with a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Nevada, Reno. After graduation, she wrote for commercials, music videos and did a number of rewrite jobs for film companies in Britain. During the recession, she had to return home to Nevada to take care of her father. In October 2018 and February 2019, and April 2019, she had three short stories published in the online anthology Defiant Scribe. She is currently working on a literary fiction book, which she hopes will be out next year.