Freedom of Expression

Article excerpt

It seemed like just another, quiet dinner at T.G.I. Friday's in Laurel, Md., when "T.K."--a nose guard for the women s professional football team the D.C. Divas got up to use the women's room. However, the night turned out to be anything but quiet. As T.K went into the rest room, another woman said, "This is the women's rest room." Unfazed, T.K. responded, "I know it is."

Then, when T.K. left the bathroom, she was met, she says, by a restaurant employee and two police officers. Apparently her masculine gender expression led them to believe that she was a man. T.K. tried to show the officers her I.D., but she says they didn't seem to care that it listed her as a female. Soon, she says, she found herself facedown on the ground, handcuffed, and under arrest.

Since she is, in fact, completely female, all the police charged T.K. with was disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace--and that, she says, was because she had asked the officers for their badge numbers and because she tried so hard to convince them that she is female.

We usually think of the "bathroom issue" as a problem mostly for trans-gendered women who have changed sexes. But harassment, confrontation, and even arrest for being in "the wrong rest room" also plague thousands of women whose gender expression transcends narrow feminine ideals. Even my partner, who looks like a handsome young boy, has found herself being pulled out of the women's room.

In short, our ideals about femininity don't include masculine lesbians, especially not muscular darker-skinned athletes with short kinky hair like T.K., and certainly not women who pull on helmets and pads every Sunday to go out and kick some serious girl-butt. For a "real woman," shoulder pads are the little foam things that ensure your blouse hangs right.

Lesbian's like T.K. and ray partner, and even feminists who transcend gender norms, are often the same women who face workplace discrimination for being "too masculine" or "too aggressive. …