An Open Letter to the Guard Outside DRAG Walk

On bathrooms and bigotry.

To the Guard at dRAG Walk,

You may or may not remember me. Sparkly bra. Leather shorts. I blended reasonably well into the crowd at Drag Walk and the afterparty. In fact, I would say that the only thing that made me stand out was that I was a woman who dressed like a Queen. Maybe if I’d been dressed like a King, you wouldn’t have had such a strong reaction to find me in the designated “guys” bathroom.

St Andrews has a long-standing reputation of a conservative attitude. After six hundred years of red robes and heteronormative reeling balls, I would say that’s a tough nut to crack. But that’s why there has been something so inherently wonderful about not only Drag walk, but Queer Fest in total.

Suddenly, there was a blown-up sex doll floating around the afterparty. There were both suits and harem trousers at Queer Collective. In a St Andrews nightlife that could usually be deemed an American frat party with different accents and better clothes, we entered a world of girls kissing girls and guys kissing guys underneath a tent of a rainbow flag.

It’s been beautiful.

Photo: Natasha Franks

That’s why I was so shocked on the night of Drag Walk (seriously, of all nights of the year), to have a security guard stand in the doorway of the ‘men’s’ restroom, look at me with crossed arms, and say: “Go to the right bathroom.”

I had honestly not even gone to the “men’s” bathroom to make some kind of statement (because gender is all performative anyway). I wasn’t in there because I was too drunk to follow little arrow signals that said I belonged in the bathroom with the dress icon. I was in there because it was a night where I felt, above all, that whatever your assigned gender is, however you view yourself, shouldn’t be put into a dichotomy. I come from a high school of gender-neutral bathrooms, and people who brought up Judith Butler at any given interval. It struck me as a complete non-issue.

Once I’d left (after yelling at the security guard about the performativity of gender) and ended up complaining about the incident to several people (so, everyone), one of my friends asked me how I would have felt had I found a guy in the girls’ bathroom. And to be completely honest, I wouldn’t care. The mixing of genders isn’t a threat, but gendered bathrooms certainly are. They could be harmless, but they serve as the manifestation of a divide. Of a separation between two genders and what they represent. I’ve heard arguments for them as a safe space for guys or girls, or encouragement for people to have sex. But both those sentiments either instil a fear of the opposite gender, or oblige to a heteronormative mentality.

So to the guard, the Union, all gendered bathrooms everywhere – read some Gender Trouble and get back to your designated jobs after. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Sophia Rosenblatt

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