The LGBT community’s bathroom wars have claimed their first casualty, and it is one of their own.
Although I have no concrete evidence of the cause-and-effect relationship in the events I am about to share, it’s hard to ignore these two facts: (1) Among lesbians, there has long been a subset of women who reject femininity (by, for example, wearing their hair short, dressing in male or unisex clothing), and (2) We are in the midst of a societal upheaval over the issue of where people confused about their sexual identity get to relieve themselves.
I am convinced that it was a convergence of those two forces that informed the decision of a fast food restaurant manager in the UK to eject a teenage customer who appeared to be using the restroom of the opposite sex. The customer in question, 16-year-old Ny Richardson, is shown below.
To my eye, Richardson is at least androgynous. Add to the that the fact that she was there with her “girlfriend,” which may have reinforced the misapprehension that the pair constituted a conventional couple. Finally is the issue that she had no proof of her gender when a staff member asked for some verification.
According to Richardson, here is how the events went down as told to Yahoo News:
I ordered my food and left it with my girlfriend as I went to the toilet.
When I was in there, someone told me to get out and when I sat back down, the manager came over and told me that I needed to leave because I have been in the girls’ toilet.
I said to him, ‘Why do I need to leave? I’m a girl, can you not tell by my voice?’
He then asked me to show some ID, but when I didn’t have any he told me to get out and he rang the police.
Yahoo apparently didn’t bother to solicit the restaurant’s account of the altercation, but the website did speak with Richardson’s irate mother, who said of her daughter: “She is who she is and people need to accept that. She shouldn’t have to justify herself to anybody.”
Sadly for the mother and teen, the same true of inhabitants of the world around her, who will probably continue to mistake her for something she is not.
As noted at the outset, I can’t but speculate whether the “bathroom rights” crusade was a catalyst in this case of mistaken identity, but it can’t have helped.