Sunday’s Washington Post Magazine has a regular column on “Work Advice,” and this week’s topic was “Potty clarity at the office.” A reader complained that “Bob” at the office had decided to become “Barbara,” and began using the women’s bathroom (after a year using a one-toilet unisex bathroom). Since “Barbara” can’t afford surgery, the reader wondered how much time before the federal agency they work for can “take the position she is legally only a cross-dresser and have her use the gender-appropriate bathroom? We are at our wits’ end.”
“Work Advice” columnist Karla L. Miller made a beeline for Mara Keisling of the National Center for Transgender Equality for a sneer at the reader: “We built a secret lab at NCTE, we’re trying to invent a transgender person who doesn’t have to use the bathroom.” Miller then lectured at the complainer to get over herself:
Are you sitting down? (Figuratively, I mean.) Under federal policy, Barbara is using the “gender-appropriate bathroom.”
...In your federal workplace, your office should be following the guidelines set by the Office of Personnel Management (www.opm.gov): “Once [a transgender worker] has begun living and working full-time in the gender that reflects his or her gender identity, agencies should allow access to restrooms ... consistent with his or her gender identity.” Barbara is not Tootsie or Bugs Bunny or any other caricature of a male in drag trying to game the system; she is, in all respects relevant to her co-workers, a woman.
That’s true regardless of whether she goes under the knife; OPM adds that transitioning workers do not have to undergo surgery to gain access to the men’s or women’s room.
You seem comfortable referring to “Barbara” and “she/her” — kudos for that — so it’s not clear to me what she’s done to bring you to “wits’ end.” If it’s simply that some folks just can’t get past sharing a bathroom with her ... well, I understand there’s a private toilet at your office up for grabs.