The way things are headed, with Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick setting the state's legislative agenda, Texas may very well have its own crack squad of bathroom police. In the meantime, it's up to self-appointed enforcers of traditional gender norms to adjudicate which bathrooms strangers should use.
Case in point: the man who, um, heroically barged into a women's restroom at Baylor Medical Center in Frisco on Thursday to make sure that Jessica Rush, who manages a local health-food takeout place, was peeing in the proper place.
She was, for the record, and her situation isn't particularly complicated. Rush was born and identifies as female and has no plans to change that. "I look very much like a girl," she says. "I'm not trying to transition, nothing like that."
But Rush wears her hair in a bleached blond fauxhawk and dresses androgynously. On Thursday, she was wearing a T-shirt from her alma mater, Texas Tech, with basketball shorts. As the man at Baylor explained after walking into the restroom behind her, it's all very confusing.
Rush caught the latter end of the exchange on video:
"When I saw you enter I thought you was..." the man says.
"A boy?" Rush offers.
"Yeah, it was kind of confusing." Certainly she can see why. "You dress like a man," he says several times as he walks away.
Later, in the doctor's office lobby where Rush was waiting to have a pair of broken fingers looked at, the man elaborated that he was concerned that a man had entered the same bathroom his mother was going to use.
"The point is I was helping my mom. I was confused when I see someone entering the woman's bathroom looking like a man," he said. "Each one of us is man or woman so ... I wanted to make sure she was going to the right place." Because in times like these, you can never be too careful.
The guy at Baylor isn't the first person who's found
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himself confused by Rush's self-presentation. Once, when Rush was at Hobby Lobby, a woman accosted her for trying to enter the restroom her granddaughter was using. Another women berated Rush for brazenly waltzing into the 24 Hour Fitness locker room before recognizing that Rush was, in fact, a woman and muttering an apology. And pretty much whenever she goes into the restroom at the mall, she'll hear kids murmur "Mom, there's a boy in the girls' bathroom!"
The confusion isn't universal, however. Once, because the women's restroom was full and figuring that everyone mistook her for a dude anyways, she tried using the men's bathroom at a bar. Its occupants were immediately panic stricken. "Whoa, there's a chick in the bathroom!" they yelled. "Get out, get out!"
"It makes me feel suuuper insecure," Rush says of the bathroom confrontations. Sometimes, like with the grandmother at Hobby Lobby, it's merely embarrassing. At other times, like when a man twice her size follows her into a hospital bathroom, it's scary. "Welcome to my world," Rush wrote when she posted the Baylor videos on Facebook. "Do you actually think I would choose this life?"