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On Transphobic Toilet Panic

Published October 26, 2012 by Sez

There’s an ongoing debate, particularly heated in the USA. It goes like this: “Should transgender women who have a penis be allowed to use ladies’ toilets?”
Let’s get one thing out of the way: my opinion on that…

Yes. Of course they should.

However, many people would disagree with me there. One such is Roseanne Barr. Ms Barr feels that affording a trans lady the basic human right to curl one out in peace, her gender identity respected, is tantamount to having a penis waved in her and other (cis) women’s faces. Seriously. That’s her position.

So let’s deal with that first.
HOW MANY WOMEN IN PUBLIC BATHROOMS DO YOU THINK WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT THE CONTENTS OF THEIR KNICKERS ROSEANNE?
seriously, we’re all just there to spend some quiet time getting slightly, temporarily lighter. Nobody is waving anything in anybody’s face. Least of all anybody dealing with transphobia and gender dysphoria every damn minute of her life. I mean, come ON.

But Roseanne isn’t worried about a trans woman literally waving her penis around, sticking it in the Airblade, pissing in the lady-sinks like they’re urinals. Not really.
Roseanne is worried about men coming into the ladies’ toilet with the intent to assault women.
Roseanne and those like her think of trans women as men.

Penis = man.
Man = rape risk.
Penis free zone = risk free zone.

So let’s go stage by stage here, so as not to get lost in the abyss of bullshit we’re staring into.

1) Trans women aren’t men.
2) Having a penis doesn’t make you a rapist.
3) Having a (home grown) vagina doesn’t make you unable to assault people.
4)Trans women aren’t men.
Clear?

An issue Ms Barr likely hasn’t even begun to consider is that there are people who don’t identify as a gender catered for by single sex bathrooms. There are people who are only just taking their first steps toward transition. There are genderqueer people and people to whom gender is an irrelevancy. The either/or culture of public toilets, changingrooms etc. hurts all these people.
So, why not gender neutral toilets?
The reason usually given is that some cis males rape and assault women, and some women feel safer going into a female only space like a toilet if they feel threatened by some creeper. Knowing that the guy isn’t allowed to follow them in there gives them a sense if security gender neutral toilets would erode.
Here’s the thing. HE ISN’T ALLOWED TO RAPE YOU IN THE FIRST PLACE. you REALLY think a picture of a bald woman with one leg is going to stop a determined attacker? I’m sorry to tell you this, but gender segregation doesn’t tend to make for a happier, more liberated society. The safety you feel in a room with a sign that says men can’t come in is false.
Assaults happen in ladies’ toilets. you can be assaulted by a cis woman, or by a bloke who’s come in after you. Assaults on cis women by trans women? In a ladies’ toilet?
Not.
One.
Case.
The reverse? Quite a few.
I believe the answer lies in a radical redesign of how we build toilets. It’s possible. People thought the indoor flush would never catch on, and now look.
So lets aim for all new builds having individual lockable stalls, well lit, open plan hand washing areas, open to all genders, and pre existing buildings providing at least one gender neutral toilets, and everyone growing the hell up about self defined men and women using the toilet that’s right for them.
Seriously, who is that oppressing?

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