Transgender performer Shakina Nayfack is out and proud and about to start what could be labeled a rebel tour of men’s restrooms in North Carolina. Tattooed and standing 6’2”, Shakina is protesting the state’s new law forcing transgenders to use the bathroom of their birth sex.
“They are trying to create a situation where trans people are supposed to be invisible. This is an absurd, panicked reaction from the ignorant, it’s a massive step backwards, so I felt it was my duty to go down there and take selfies in as many men’s bathrooms as possible,” she said.
Shakina was born Jared Alan Nayfack, and as a boy put on his first dress at the age of six at a Super Bowl party. While the early act of rebellion was quickly quashed by her mother, it was the beginning of a life that has been in constant transition.
As a teenager, she was an out-gay male, but later realized that she was actually transgender, taking the name Shakina in 2001. She moved to New York in 2010, and eighteen months ago she traveled to Thailand for gender reassignment surgery and covered the cost through the crowdfunding site YouCaring.com.
“It started as a joke, I tweeted about how expensive the surgery was and said I should crowdfund my sex change, ha ha ha, and it happened! Then when I heard about HB2 I posted that I wanted to go down there and pee in all the ‘wrong’ restrooms and someone posted ‘I would totally crowdfund that,’ so the next day I launched the new campaign,” Nayfack said.
The tour officially starts on June 8 in New York where Nayfack will debut her one-woman rock musical Manifest Pussy at Joe’s Pub at the Public (425 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10003) before heading to North Carolina the following day. The show tells the tale of her gender journey.
“Depending on what the legislature does, it will either be a demonstration or a celebration tour,” said Nayfack. “HB2 is ridiculous, it means trans people either have to go in places where we risk being subject to violence, or at least making people uncomfortable, or we are forced to find secret places to pee.”
Nayfack will be performing in men’s restrooms in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Greensboro, Asheville, Flat Rock, Charlotte and Fayetteville, and taking pictures to be posted daily on Facebook and Twitter.
The North Carolina law, known as HB2, effectively outlaws people from using the public bathroom that reflects their gender identity if it does not match the sex stated on their birth certificate.
It also blocks local authorities in the state from instituting wider anti-discrimination laws, sparked by a former Charlotte law designed to protect people from bias based on their sexuality or gender identity.
The US Department of Justice has told North Carolina the new regime violates federal civil rights law and has given the state until Monday to abandon the legislation.
Nayfack sees herself as a “grassroots trans activist” and, “God willing, a rising star in the entertainment industry.”
According to Nayfack, she has had offers from transgender residents in North Carolina, and others annoyed by HB2, to accommodate, feed and print flyers for Nayfack and her four-piece rock band.
“I’m not looking to confront anyone,” she says. “If people want to engage me in civil discussion in a bathroom that will be fine. But if people want to come at me, I’ll tell them, well, they could suck my dick, but I cut it off,” she said.