Flushing discrimination

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 29, 2005

Traveling abroad has afforded me a number of memories, many of which revolve around the people and places I have come into contact with while on short-term ministry trips in third world countries, like Mexico and El Salvador.

Prior to the spring of 2000, I had never traveled beyond my native U.S. borders, so when I finally had the opportunity to say cheese for my very first passport photo, I couldn’t be more excited.

As the time edged closer to my flight in the friendly skies, I remember being bombarded with free advice from others who had previously embarked on similar missions telling me how to &uot;survive&uot; the trip by not drinking the water and making sure I had an adequate supply of Immodium AD, hand sanitizer and travel tissues for those &uot;uh oh, gotta go&uot; moments.

To a former Girl Scout deemed &uot;most adventurous&uot; by her troop leader, those words fell on deaf ears. My husband and I joke about it today, but he says it was that tenacious conquistador attitude that attracted him to me.

&uot;I can’t handle those high maintenance chic’s,&uot; he’d say. &uot;I like a gal who can go in the woods.&uot; And thus has been the joke in our household ever since.

Nevertheless, I heeded the admonition to bring the items and was ever so glad I did. After landing in San Antonio and painstakingly making our way through heavily armed Mexican border patrol police, we squeezed onto an un-air conditioned bus with our luggage and equipment for a long ride into the mountains of northeastern Mexico.

Dropping groups off at various places along the way, the number of people left on the bus had thinned out to about six, including myself and finally stopped at a forsaken gas station along a dirt road.

As we got out, the driver told us we would have to wait for a truck to take us the remainder of the way. So there we were, in the middle of what seemed like nowhere, a perfect time to use the bathroom.

Now, having lived in New York a great part of my life, I have seen my share of less than desirable restrooms, but seeing this one made me realize I hadn’t seen nuthin’ yet.

A shack in the back, a tin pot, and a primitive hole in the ground later made me appreciate the amenities I had taken for granted back in the states and to this day, I thank God for them.

However, despite the posh bathrooms this side of the border, a new California resolution has caused me to question just how much more &uot;civilized&uot; we really are.

In a 4-0 vote Tuesday, supervisors in Alameda County approved an &uot;anti-discrimination&uot; policy allowing transsexual individuals (ie those who have undergone sex changes, those taking hormones to promote those changes prior to an operation or simply those who dress in drag) into restrooms designated for women.

Can you imagine walking into the public library and walking into the ladies room only to be followed by a guy dressed in drag? Uh, I’ll take the shack in the back, with the hole in the ground please!

So, if San Francisco is in your travel plan anytime in the near future, here’s some free advice on &uot;surviving&uot; your trip: avoid drinking too much water, hold what you’ve got and resolve not to use the public restroom or you just might end up with more memories than you bargained for!