An all-gender bathroom at the Democratic national convention was seeing plenty of visitors on Thursday. Even some famous ones.
“When both of us walked in,” said Nikki Nice, referring to a friend who was hurriedly walking away from this reporter, “Reverend Jesse Jackson was coming out of the stalls.”
“We were like: ‘Ahhh’,” Nice said. “Just experiencing Reverend Jesse Jackson coming out of a stall – that just speaks everything about what an all-gender restroom really is about. So I’ll take that any day.”
Nice, a delegate for Bernie Sanders and member of the DNC platform committee, is from Oklahoma, which came close to joining the Republican-dominated North Carolina legislature in banning transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice. The Oklahoma bill was overturned by the federal government.
She said her bathroom experience had gone smoothly.
“There are doors so it’s OK,” she said. “We don’t have to see their private parts.”
Suzanne Ffolks was among the others to use the bathroom. She said she had no qualms about sharing with the opposite sex – “if it’s clean”.
This was Ffolks’s second visit to the all-gender bathroom. She had used it earlier in the week without realizing men were allowed in. Thursday’s visit was intentional, albeit brief.
“I just went in for a second to look at my hair,” she said. She was a little disappointed with what she saw in the mirror.
“It’s raining outside,” she explained. “I’m just going to go with it.”
As the Guardian lingered outside the all-gender restroom, seemingly causing more unease than anything going on inside, Sarah McBride was addressing delegates in the hall.
McBride, the national press secretary at the not-for-profit Human Rights Campaign, is the first transgender person ever to speak at a national party convention.
She spoke about coming out as transgender four years ago in college. She said attitudes had changed even in that time.
“Today I see this change in the work of the LGBT caucus and in my own job at the Human Rights Campaign … but so much work remains,” McBride said.
“Hillary Clinton understands the urgency of our fight.”
Down on the convention floor, North Carolina state senator Erica Smith-Ingham had been listening.
“It’s an embarrassment. It is morally wrong,” she said of her state’s restroom ban. “The only purpose of the bill was to legislate hate and be hostile to the transgender community.”
Smith-Ingham had taken the opportunity to use the all-gender restroom herself, she said. She told the Guardian that she had “not had a problem” with the facility. She lamented the passage of the North Carolina bill, but said she and others were hoping to overturn it.
“If we don’t become more inclusive and progressive we’re going to be left behind in the world,” she said.
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