This story came out over the last week about transsexual discrimination that happened at London Pride in the UK.  Roz Kaveney explains in her own words:

Official stewards who were running the toilets at Trafalgar Square announced that I, and any other transgender or transsexual woman, had to use the disabled toilets and was not allowed to use the regular women’s toilets.

I was thinking about this after being involved in a brief discussion the other day regarding gender-neutral washrooms.  The discussion centered around the inclusion of gender-neutral washrooms being placed in a post-secondary institution and if they were necessary or not.  One side of the argument stated that it didn’t make sense to spend money on single washrooms that only “4 or 5 people would use”.  While the other side stated that it is important to create private spaces that might make people, such as a trans individual, more comfortable and safe.

How do these two stories connect?  They are both about denying access to trans individuals and misunderstanding or refusing to understand the needs of trans women and men.  A lot of people would side on the argument that money should not be spent on “4 or 5 people”.  That statement alone displays the lack of understanding about trans issues.  Clearly such a washroom would not be used by only 4 or 5 people but it would be available to anyone who feels more comfortable in a single, gender-neutral setting.

However, when it comes to creating gender-neutral washrooms it suddenly hit me that this alone will not end discrimination.  I mean, I know that by simply putting in a private washroom discrimination does not just suddenly end, but I guess what I mean is that the thought never crossed my mind until now that perhaps the same type of discrimination that happened at this Pride event could happen anywhere.  That is, the idea that all trans individuals should be segregated to their “own space”.

Would people start to assume that by having a gender-neutral washroom on hand that all trans people should be made to use it?  I would hate to see someone who feels confident and secure in using gender labeled washrooms and has every right to do so have that confidences and security yanked from them.  And it is angering to realize that many people do not see a problem with this kind of thinking or behaviour.  And yet, some might claim that it isn’t discrimination because trans people have their “own washroom”.

I am also reminded of something that a friend told me about recently.  Ami of Super Cute Rants of DOOM, writes about an LGB dating website that refuses service to openly trans women and men stating that the site can not fulfil trans needs.  This assumes that trans individuals are defined by their trans status alone.  It is also stating that trans people should “stick to their kind”.  This sadly illustrates the immense discrimination and isolation that trans women and men experience not only from the general public but from groups that one would expect to be supportive and inclusive.

So, what do I want to say here?  I want to say that trans discrimination sucks.  I want to say that we need to keep advocating for trans safe spaces such as gender-neutral washrooms.  I want to say that trans issues were invisible to me until almost a year ago.  And I figure that if that was the case for myself and many around me then there is a lot of work to be done because people need to get educated and join in the advocacy and activism for trans issues and rights.   We can stop the kind of discrimination that happened to Roz and countless other trans women and men.

For more information regarding Roz Kaveney’s experience you can read about it on her blog here.