A right to use a bathroom

“Women’s rights and trans rights should not be mutually exclusive. Yet they are, according to trans activists. Why is this?” Do our rights conflict, and if so is it anyone’s fault?

I would say they don’t. A few thousand trans women use women’s services and spaces, and while a few thousand women object strenuously and loudly, we can’t know what proportion of the female population don’t care, or have not thought about it. So I go to the loo or the changing room, just like anyone else. No-one’s rights are infringed.

If a woman was frightened or made uncomfortable because she saw a trans woman in a loo, I would regret that, but using that possible fear to forbid trans women to use women’s loos seems to be asserting some nebulous right to not be distressed when out in public, or not be distressed by trans women, or define who is entitled to use women’s services.

Who decides who is entitled? Society as a whole. It’s not just government: when North Carolina had its “bathroom bill”, businesses boycotted the State, and the Governor lost his re-election. Some people care a lot, and gain some influence. It’s not a matter of strict logic, making a definition of “woman” including women with a disorder of sexual development but not trans women entitled to separate spaces, but agreement. I tend to hope that many people’s view of themselves as liberal, tolerant, decent people is enhanced by their acceptance that trans women are women. We are mostly harmless, and if they get a warm glow of satisfaction that makes them feel benevolent towards us, Hooray.

No, seriously. Hooray. It’s a total pain that my right to exist depends on the good will of society, but that is the human condition. No-one can survive alone.

So, rights do not conflict. But even if they did, it would not be my fault. Since the 1960s, the British government has treated trans women as women. When I transitioned, there was a well-worn path for it. Clever lawyers had carved out rights against discrimination from the Sex Discrimination Act, and they were later entrenched in a statutory instrument specifically about trans people. I went to the GP, who referred me to a local psychiatrist, who sent me to a gender identity clinic. I arranged a date that I would transition at work, and then got my bank account, passport and driving licence in my female name. A few years later, after the Gender Recognition Act was passed, I got a gender recognition certificate.

Brave women pioneered that pathway, asserting their right to be seen as women. Doctors, seeing what their patients wanted, gave it to them, so the women went to those doctors. Trans women use women’s loos, and have done since before I was born. I would not have transitioned if no-one had gone before. Finding people who had made a go of transition gave me the courage to attempt it.

Some trans-critical feminists don’t want intact penises in women’s loos, but could tolerate post-operative trans women. But that is not good enough- before I transitioned at work, I was going about socially expressing myself female, and using loos. I had to do that, because I could not have transitioned without some experience of what it was like. And I got a bank card in my female name six months before I transitioned.

I did not do it as of right. I felt the need, so I did it. No-one told me they objected. It is not a matter of rights, logic, or strict definitions, it is a matter of rubbing along together.

Transition is a path open to us. It’s been open for decades, with tolerance from government, and few people caring enough to object.  Those TERFs seeking to exclude us from women’s spaces are trying to close off that path. They are making the change.

8 thoughts on “A right to use a bathroom

  1. Whenever someone objects to people using the bathroom that they identity with, they are quick to say “but I’m not transphobic”. I don’t think that’s true at all. Our son is on the autism spectrum and no one objects to him using the ladies room with me once they find out that he has special needs. I’m a wheelchair user and my big burly husband has had come into the ladies room to help me several times and no one cares. I go to the men’s if it is less crowded and easier to maneuver to the handicapped stall. Again no one cares. The only difference is that people try to emphasize with me and my son, but they just hate on trans people for being different. It’s not right.

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    • Welcome, and thank you for commenting. I much prefer separate disabled people’s loos, rather than one wider stall with bars to hold on to, in the men’s and the women’s. I am seeing those wider stalls more and more now. Carers in loos should not have to be the same sex.

      And, toilets should not be a big issue. We have stalls. Everyone coming out of the stall is decently dressed. We take down our underwear in private. I don’t see the problem.

      How old is your son, and how often is he challenged going into the women’s loo? I would think most people might think that a bit odd, but not speak up and ask about it, as it is not their business. I would be interested to hear your experience- how many busybodies are there?

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      • He’s ten, but very eccentric in the way he dresses so people can usually tell that he has special needs. People can be rude in other settings, but the few times that he’s been questioned about being in the women’s room, they understood right away why he couldn’t go by himself to the men’s when I explained the situation. We’ve also being shamed for letting him wear “girly” clothes. Because of his autism, most of his friends are girls because they usually aren’t as rambunctious and more understanding than boys his age. It’s only natural that he likes to wear clothes that feature the shows they watch, like sailor moon ,and leggings are more comfortable because of his sensory issues. People have criticized us for letting him “look weird”. I’m in a glow in the dark wheelchair with Angel wings on the back, does it look like I care what looks weird? 😉 But even when questioning whether or not he should wear girl’s clothing, no one has ever tried to kick him out of the ladies room. Even bigots recognize his medical problems and make accommodations for him. That’s what I would argue —- gender dysphoria is a medical condition and under ADA laws, reasonable accommodations must be made. If anyone is in danger about the bathroom bills, it’s the trans community, not us. I would worry that if a trans man walked into a ladies room because he still has a vagina, the women might be worried. I fear that the men’s room would be worse on a trans woman. Violence against trans people is still really high. this would just out them unnecessarily and put them in a situation to possibly be beaten up by transphobic people.

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        • It is so much more important to be able to deal with the sensory issues than to appear “normal”. If he can live with the sensory issues he can find out how they are a gift. My autistic blogging-buddy Barry likes skirts and doesn’t see why there is an objection, and nor do I. I wish we did not need to argue we were entitled to be unusual because we have a medical condition rather than because we like to express ourselves this way, though.

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          • Exactly. Society tells kids on the spectrum to fit in with the neurotypicals and forced them into therapy designed to push social skills before personal comfort and eliminate stimming. We refused to do that to him when we saw how much it bothered him. Who cares about clothes, repetitive speech, or fidgeting ? I would much rather love him for the amazing person that he was created to be. He has had issues with certain things that we had to address because they were harmful, like scratching himself when he’s nervous and he won’t talk to strangers so we got him a watch with a GPS tracker that calls us if he is lost or needs help. Being different isn t harmful, but being shamed about it is. Everyone should be able to live however they choose as long as it isn’t hurting anyone.
            Everybody say Love!❤

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