The biggest day-to-day anxiety for a Trans person is that persistent call of nature. They say death is the great equaliser, but the need to ‘go’ is also a contender for the top spot. All of us, with the exception those who have required medical intervention, need to empty ourselves and for most people, going about the process is autopilot.
‘I need to pee… seek appropriate place to pee… find appropriate place to pee… pee’
However, for Trans people out and about in their daily lives, that urge to pee can be a source of horrendous anxiety and cold-sweat terror. It’s not just a case of finding somewhere to pee and peeing. Those little drawings of stereotypical silhouettes on the doors make a very clear statement of who may and may not enter and, as a Trans person, you are made to feel that you’re never far away from someone whose opinion of which door you go through will be different to yours.
If you are fortunate enough to be 100% passable, the issue diminishes, but for those starting out in their transition, or for those who unfortunately will never pass 100%, this proves a massive issue. Going to the toilet becomes like something from a special-forces movie… getting in and out as fast as possible, completing the objective and getting away with nobody any the wiser. To add to the anxiety, such furtiveness in one’s behaviour can draw even more attention, thus making the whole experience potentially even more terrifying.
I don’t know many Transwomen who haven’t had bad experiences trying to use the appropriate toilets or changing room facilities to their gender. I have been fortunate in not encountering these issues, but I am never complacent. I have known of Transwomen being chastised by staff members or even physically thrown out of pubs and clubs by heavy handed security guards for daring to use the correct bathroom.
See, the dilemma for a Transwoman is this:
Go in the Ladies and risk being called a pervert and publicly humiliated when outed, or go in the Gents, most definitely outing yourself in the process and risk ridicule, harassment, humiliation or even physical assault.
Some places such as schools are offering alternative unisex toilets so that Trans people can take this third option, whilst other businesses and facilities encourage Transwomen to use the disabled facilities instead. Indeed, Leicester City Council have been giving out the universal keys to disabled toilets to Transwomen who have reported harassment to them, so that they may use these unisex facilities in relative safety.
How the hell has this type of segregation become acceptable?
Gender segregation with regards to toilet facilities is NOT enforced by law. It is down to those responsible for the businesses or institutions in question to use their discretion as to who may and may not use their facilities. What IS law however, is that services and facilities may not be refused to someone based upon their sex, age, race, religion, sexuality or gender identity. To deny a Transwoman the use of the Ladies toilets, or a Transman the use of the Gents is an act of discrimination in the eyes of the law. If there is a problem with local businesses refusing Trans people access to the appropriate facilities, then the diversity teams at local authorities need to run a campaign to create awareness of the legal rights that are so often denied.
With the massive rise in Trans people coming out to live openly, and the profiles of Trans people getting higher and higher, it can no longer be ignored that businesses and institutions such as schools and colleges should be made aware, first through a leafleting campaign, and through personal visits from diversity team members should that not be enough, with legal action as a very viable last resort to repeat offenders, that their actions are discriminatory and against the law.
Yet instead, so many get fobbed off with a special key and a ‘oh just use the disabled toilets’.
Being Transgender is NOT a disability. It is not a crippling physical condition, a wasting disease or a mental illness, and these facts are recognised by eminent medical professionals and, more importantly, the law.
We have the same rights enshrined in law to be treated with basic human dignity as anyone else, with special protections in place purely because we are very vulnerable to the ignorance and bigotry of others. It is not a life of special privilege when you have to be a victim of discriminatory crime before such protections come into effect. Most Trans people want to be left to themselves and live their lives whilst causing no harm to anybody.
So don’t be fobbed off with a special key, or treated as disabled or mentally ill. Don’t spend hours in discomfort, holding it in while everyone else around you goes when and where they want. Pee where you want to pee, and if the bastards give hassle and humiliate or abuse you, sue the shit out of them for discrimination… really, it’s the only way some morons will ever learn.