So, I want to tell you that I have trouble with beauty. I was never beautiful, pretty maybe, but I used to have beautiful hair. It was brunette. It shown auburn in the sun. It was hair that put hairstylists into paroxysms of ecstasy. It was so long my friends once used a yard stick to measure it. My hair was longer than a yardstick. It was silky. It was gorgeous. It made people reprimand me any time I cut an inch or two off of it. It had the perfect wave. It got apologies whenever it was caught in closing doors. My hair only needed a moderately presentable head to hang itself on and random people on the street would remark about its beauty.
Then, it started to fall out.
Over time, I spent thousands of dollars trying to get my hair back until one day, my husband had a heart attack, a mild one, but it was an eye-opener. I realized that having hair was not worth one more penny, not worth one more moment of my time.
Well, I tried to realize that it wasn't not worth one more moment of my time.
I get up in the morning and my husband will hug me deeply and lean down so I can kiss his head. I know everything is okay when he leans down toward me that way. Throughout the day, I'll be going along fine, talking to my friends without thinking for one instant about how I look.
Then, I'll go into Costco or something and some bored employee will start talking to me without really looking at me.
There's a chunky person standing in front of him, one with very short hair, someone who is balding even. He asks me a question.
"Sir, do you want your things in a box? Sir?"
I try to take a deep breath. I try to, but I can't. I try to make eye contact with him. I try to, but I can't. Sometimes, he will recognize his mistake and begin to spin backward and backward and backward and try to apologize. I usually nod then, and find a way to answer his question. He didn't intend to insult me so deeply. He's just a dork. Everybody is a dork sometimes.
But there are other guys. When I finally manage to look them in the eye, I can see I have not passed muster, not even for a middle-aged housewife shopping for groceries. These kind of men aren't sorry about calling me 'sir.' They seem to expect that all of creation should manage its beauty in a way that is always about their own tastes and their own sensibilities. These men judge. They shouldn't even have to look at my ugliness in front of them.
These are the guys who hurt.
So, I've been reading about the whole bathroom thing. To listen to the news, you might think that people, the so-called Christian conservative, were going post sentries to deny entrance to each ladies room for anyone who doesn't pass muster. My church doesn't have sentries at the bathroom doors, but I wonder about their churches?
These people are so furious about the labels on bathroom doors.
At a small-town festival I was enjoying last week, a woman interrupted a conversation I was having with a friend.
"Do you want to sign our petition to put proper labels back on bathroom doors?"
We both glared at her. We wanted to finish our conversation. She didn't get the hint.
"We need to get back to normal," she said.
"No," my friend said pointing to the petition in her hand. "That's just an excuse to harass the LGBT community."
The woman held the petition out to me.
"No," was all I managed to say. I can not think on my feet.
And this woman kept talking about the labels on bathroom doors. She just went on and on and on, even though we both had said no and stood there glaring at her. She'd interrupted a perfectly nice conversation and she just kept talking about the labels on a fucking bathroom door.
"No, I will not sign it," I repeated.
She was not finished. In fact, she only got louder. Was this woman never going to leave us alone?
"How are you going to protect girls from sexual assault?" she yelled.
Something snapped. I forgot where I was, in the thick of a family-friendly festival.
"Believe me," I yelled back, "no words on a bathroom door are going to keep a damned predator from being a damned predator. I'm sure of that. So now, I want to know. Because I look gender-questionable, are you going to force me to drop my pants at the door for a gender check every fucking time I need to pee?"
It was then, just at that moment, that I realized that there might have been some redeeming reason I lost my hair and any claim I might have had to serving beauty. It might have been a damned good reason. I realized that I don't want anyone at a restroom door or at Costco or anywhere else questioning my damned gender or anyone's gender before any of us can pass on through and live our lives in peace.
Thank you for listening, jules