TW: transmisogyny, violence (light discussion)
Disclaimer: I should probably mention that (even though this should be obvious) my opinion does not necessarily reflect that of the rest of the trans* community or even the majority. My perspective is skewed by my experiences as an intersex, genderqueer, MtF with passing (for the most part) and white privilege. Nor am I extremely attached to the defence of this opinion. If someone were to make a convincing argument for another better or equally valid opinion that I am not aware of please direct me to it.
I woke up this morning to a question from my friend on the topic of restroom legislation and policy; that is, should there be transinclusion laws to allow trans* people to use the restroom of the gender to which they identify. And what about the dangers associated to women from having an excuse, potentially, for pervy/violent men in their restrooms.
I have fairly strong feelings on the subject, but realised that I had never really put my thoughts down in any coherent way. So, below is my attempt at putting my thoughts in order after thinking on the subject for a bit.
I am admittedly biased toward having both the two widely-agreed upon gendered bathrooms and a non-gendered bathroom, however I think it’s important for people to use the bathroom they feel most comfortable/safe in. If someone wants to use a gendered bathroom based on their gender identity and not their biological gender, then I think there should be laws in place to give legal recourse to people who are harassed in these situations. I think it is important for those individuals to be aware that this will not necessarily protect them from violence and to take proper precautions. It has been made clear in my eyes that the justice system, in this country and others, has continually failed to back up the policies and laws that have been passed. The trans panic defence (similar to gay panic) is still widely used and is unfortunately quite effective at scaring juries into finding for the defendents in cases of violence toward trans* people.
As for the safety of cisgendered women who may have cis people of the opposite sex using these regulations to defend themselves when being in pervy/violent, it is a legitimate concern, but I think it would be hard for a cisman to convince law enforcement or school officials that they identify as female.. The same laws that protect against the invasion of privacy, violence, rape, etc outside of a restroom are just as effective inside one. However, I am a bit torn on the idea because I feel it is important for everyone to feel safe in a restroom and that includes cis people.
It seems to me like a compromise (and possibly a first step that everyone might be able to agree on cis and trans* alike) is a non-gendered restroom, which anyone could use regardless of gender identity or presentation. I personally love seeing this as an option for a few reasons: Firstly, because I don’t feel comfortable or safe in either of the gendered restrooms which are available in most places, even when I am passing well as one or the other gender. Secondly, because it is a non-judgmental place for a person who is attending to anyone who would like or require the assistance of another person (i.e. a baby, child, elderly or disabled person, etc). Thirdly, there are many people (including myself) who feel that they do not identify as “man” or “woman” and who would prefer not to be forced into a box whenever nature calls.
The inherent problem with this idea is that it could be seen as, not a first step in the right direction, but the only concession from the hetcis population toward us, forcing gender-non-conforming people into genderless restrooms. Though this would suit me just fine I know that some of us do identify in the strict boundaries of a gender-binary system and they may be denied the ability to use the restroom which they identify with.
While I see this potential problem, it seems to me that a person’s safety should be the first priority. With gender-neutral bathrooms there would be less fear of not passing and being yelled at, beaten up, and/or killed. Likewise, cispeople can rest easy knowing that cismen won’t be in the women’s restroom, at least anymore than they already were. Also, for the most part, a transperson who identifies solely as one or the other gender, will almost certainly be making efforts to pass as that gender and won’t be any more inhibited than they were previously to use the appropriately-gendered restroom anyway.