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How it feels to navigate a gym locker room when you're transgender.

People like me don't often feel welcomed. Let's change that.

Here's the thing about locker rooms: I avoid them whenever humanly possible.

I go out of my way to steer clear, heading into the gym wearing exactly what I plan to work out in and carrying nothing else with me. This means that, yes, there are days where the temperature is in the 20s or 30s, and I'll venture out without my coat as a way to avoid locker rooms.

On days where I absolutely have to use them, I do whatever I can to get in and out of the locker room as quickly and quietly as I can.


Here are my four stages of locker room interaction:

1. Two steps into the room, there's a coat hook. That's my go-to.

2. Immediately to the left is a row of (usually) empty lockers. That's my reluctant second.

3. If that row is full, I carry my belongings with me as I work out.

4. If that's too cumbersome, I just go home without working out.

This is my gym. As you can see, I do my best to go when I think the fewest people will be here.

It sounds bizarre, right? But ... one thing you may or may not know about me is that I'm transgender.

I'm pretty open about it, but it's not as though I wear a sign around my neck informing the general public — the vast majority of the time, strangers don't know. My life just is what it is: pretty boring.

But yes, being transgender is part of why I avoid locker rooms.

Here's me after a workout.

I've never put on or taken off an article of clothing in my gym's locker room nor do I plan on it anytime soon.

And I've never actually seen anybody else in there at the same time as me. But, I can't help it — during those few seconds I plan out so carefully, my anxiety rules over me — because I'm afraid.

Fully clothed, just two steps inside the door, I'm afraid.

I'm afraid of anybody else stepping through that door.

I'm afraid of being yelled at.

I'm afraid of being asked whether I'm in the wrong room.

I'm afraid I'll be physically harmed.

Now, it's not as though those thoughts are especially logical, but I guess it doesn't matter. Anxiety and fear don't follow rules of logic.

I know for certain that many other trans people have similar feelings about bathrooms and locker rooms. I have friends who've cancelled gym memberships out of fear. I have friends who avoid joining gyms out of fear. I have friends who simply live their lives in fear. If you're not transgender, these thoughts probably haven't occurred to you.

But for so many of us, these thoughts and fears can be all-consuming.

Sadly, trans women being attacked in public restrooms and locker rooms is a reality in our world.

People set on fighting against trans rights have made regulating bathroom access a concerning focal point of their agenda.

I've watched as city councils have debated the validity of my gender, and I've watched as cities have moved to ban people like me from locker rooms using the argument that it'd be letting "men" into women's locker rooms. The reality is that non-discrimination laws don't allow for men to enter women's locker rooms anyway. And in any case, I am not a man.

But the strategy of trying to legislate who can use which bathroom is based on misinformation about exactly who is helped by these types of ordinances and what they allow for.

For example, unlike what Mike Huckabee thinks, anti-discrimination laws allowing trans people to use bathrooms that match their gender identities would not have allowed him, a cisgender man, to enter the girls' locker room when he was in high school just for fun:


Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee talks about how he would have tried to abuse these laws during his teen years.

One tactic anti-trans groups use to try to roll back or block non-discrimination ordinances is sending cisgender men into women's locker rooms.

Cisgender men are men whose gender identity matches the gender they were assigned at birth. This happened just a couple weeks back, actually, when a cisgender man walked into a women's locker room, took off his shirt, and stood there until somebody complained. After being kicked out, he returned hours later, again invading the locker room while young girls were changing for swim practice.

The groups behind these anti-trans efforts are pretty open about encouraging these tactics. They terrorize women and children as a way to show their supposed concern for those same people.

It's sick, but it has absolutely nothing to do with people like me.

Trans people aren't going into locker rooms, walking around naked, and leering at others. Sick men who want to "prove a point" are. They're trying to trick you into being scared of trans people. Please don't fall for it.

Deal with them, don't let them win, and don't take it out on us.

Right now, I'm afraid, but I have hope for the future.

There's currently a bit of anti-LGBTQ backlash going on in the wake of last year's marriage equality wins (and trans people are just the easiest target to take that out on, sadly), but I've seen the public fear of gay and lesbian people shift a lot just in the past few years, and I have hope that those feelings toward trans people will pass soon too.

I have hope for a more tolerant and accepting world where people don't need to feel afraid when doing something as simple as using the bathroom or changing in a locker room. I have hope that we're all going to be OK.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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