When I first heard about the story of Andraya Williams, a 22-year-old student at Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) in Charlotte, NC, I was instantly confused. A female security guard stopped Williams, who is a transgender woman, after she stepped out of a women’s restroom on the college campus and asked her sex. Williams says she was subsequently suspended from school for using the women’s bathroom. And CPCC authorities told her that she could only return if she agreed to only use the gender-neutral bathrooms. According to her attorney, Williams was told she would have to bring medical proof that she is female in order to use the women’s restrooms on campus. A spokesperson for the school, however, said Williams wasn’t actually suspended but was in trouble for not showing her ID to the security guard when prompted.
I definitely reject any and all comfort with being willfully ignorant, and I always strive to achieve a more inclusive mindset, but I couldn’t understand what Williams’ issue was. When I say I can’t understand what her problem is, I truly mean I can’t fathom it. This leaves me, and many other people, in a weird space, since we have many questions and concerns about issues affecting the transgender community and the community at large. However, most of us are either unaware of our ignorance or unsure of how to engage in non-inflammatory conversation. The reason there’s no outrage from most non-transgender people over Williams’ plight is because many women, especially those who commented on Clutch’s story, believe it’s dangerous or an invasion of privacy to have transgender women using a women’s restroom.
When I attended York University in the early 2000s, a despicable amount of sexual assaults occurred on the campus, and there was no system in place to make the campus safer for women, especially after dark. But if you go to York today, a decade later, you will see that there are many resources available to protect women during the day and night. The changes implemented on York’s campus were also put into place on many campuses all over North America because keeping women of all ages, races, and orientations safe and secure is priority number one. But, how exactly does a transgender woman fit into all of this?