I'm not sure how I feel about this

(121 Posts)
Sunnywithachanceofshowers Tue 04-Dec-12 15:31:17

Our university library has recently installed a gender-neutral toilet, following requests from transgender people. I don't have a problem with that.

However, it replaces the ladies' toilet, so the toilets on one floor are 'mens' and 'women / genderless'. It feels as this reinforces that men are the default gender, and anything else is aberrant.

What do you think?

Lottapianos Tue 04-Dec-12 15:35:16

I like the gender-neutral toilet idea but would share your concern about why they got rid of the 'women' toilet. Why not make all toilets gender-neutral?

GalaxyDisaster Tue 04-Dec-12 15:54:15

How bizarre. That is so wrong.

I don't have an issue with genderless toilets. I actually think that those ones with each toilet having a cubicle and a sink (and therefore fully self contained) are a good way to reduce queues.

But what are they saying? That the men can use any toilet, and that women can just use the women/gender neutral one? Or that you can only use that toilet if you are a women/gender neutral?Both are wrong, but in different ways. The former enforces male privilege and the idea that female facilities are a concession. The latter, yes, that everything is a departure from the 'norm' of male and can therefore be grouped together.

sleepyhead Tue 04-Dec-12 15:57:14

Presumably it was so they could keep the urinals in the men's toilets.

It's a stupid fudge though. If they were going to have genderless toilets then they should have made them all cubicle only.

locmum Tue 04-Dec-12 16:43:18

I think it depends on if they refurbished them or just changed the sign or something else relatively simple.

If they just changed the sign I would be more comfortable in the short term based on them being under pressure as it would cost more and take longer to change the mens and they might not have the budget available immediately.

I would expect them to change both long term obviously.

Frontpaw Tue 04-Dec-12 16:45:22

Everyone knows that women take longer in the loo, so why have they essentially increased the number of loos available for men?

HalloweenNameChange Tue 04-Dec-12 17:12:24

If anything men have more toilets so they should be the default genderless loo. But surely it has put women in more danger? Men rigging toilets with cameras or abusing women in toilets ,which does happen, not hysteria and sexual abuse in universities in rampant. I don't get this. Women who choose to go in to a men's toilet are not going to sexually abuse or peek in to men's stalls..and it's going to affect women from other cultures where they aren't meant to risk exposing themselves..

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 04-Dec-12 17:27:15

Are you in the UK? I'm pretty sure that under the Equalities Act, this is not the correct way to handle the issue of transgender people and toilets. I believe that the correct way is for the transgender person to use the toilets of their chosen gender.

LaCiccolina Tue 04-Dec-12 17:27:42

I'm not quite sure I see the make being dominant so to speak, more that its ok for any tom dick or charli to use a female toilet. Maybe dogs should have troughs in there too?

Fine to do a gender less but build one for the purpose. If its attached to women's then its not gender less. It's specifically women's and well we have no feckin idea what to do with this lot so stick em here too.

It's the laziness that fecks me off!

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 04-Dec-12 17:29:22

Also, is it actually described as genderless on the sign?

LRDtheFeministDude Tue 04-Dec-12 17:36:12

That is really stupid.

Sunnywithachanceofshowers Tue 04-Dec-12 18:34:11

I haven't actually seen the loo so am repeating what I've heard... I'm prepared to get handed my arse if I check and I was mistaken! I'm back in on Thursday so I'll have a look then.

SolidGoldYESBROKEMYSPACEBAR Tue 04-Dec-12 23:59:25

I think all loos should be genderless anyway - just a set of private cubicles. But I agree that this is (probably unintentionally) saying that men are people and anyone else is a not-man and therefore not-really-a-person.

Dromedary Wed 05-Dec-12 00:22:40

They will almost certainly have done this because of the urinals in the men's. That's also presumably why people who clean toilets always seem to be men.

Personally I feel uncomfortable with transsexuals who are physically still men but dressing as women passing fully as women - eg using the women's toilets. I once had the bizarre experience of staying in a youth hostel in a single sex women's dorm, with one other "woman". When I went into the dorm to go to bed I switched on the light. The other "woman" was already in bed. She jumped out of bed and punched me amazingly hard, and then gathered up my belongings and threw them out of the dorm. The police were called, and it turned out that she was actually a man, who was travelling around on a bike with a bag load of unhygienic sex toys. There was also some mention of her using a women's toilet and frightening a little girl. The next weekend I was at another hostel in the area, and there she was again, in the women's dorm. So sorry if I'm biased and twisted, but this has put me off - it's nice to know what you're dealing with.

NB I was told by the youth hostel association that people going through the gender change were supposed to stay in a private room, so not their fault.

KRITIQ Wed 05-Dec-12 00:39:58

What Doctrine said, if in the UK.

I hate that all too frequent situation where there's a queue outside the women's and the men's room is empty. Men don't have urinals in their homes, so surely they can used ordinary toilets in public.

Wherever it's possible to adapt existing toilets or where new ones are built, I think they should just offer separate cubicles with a wash hand basin in each and with some wide enough for wheelchairs, baby changing or for those who need additional space for other reasons. Having wash hand basins inside means you can do things like wash out a mooncup in private, wash your hands immediately after emptying a stoma bag, stuff like that.

KRITIQ Wed 05-Dec-12 00:49:13

Dromedary, it sounds like you had a very strange and awful experience with a person who didn't behave rationally, was threatening and was violent, and this would have been a frightening and unacceptable experience regardless of whether they'd been male, female, trans, old, young, black, white, straight, gay, bi or any other identity. Associating the unacceptable behaviours of one person with all other people who share a characteristic of that person's identity is unfair.

ChippingInLovesAutumn Wed 05-Dec-12 00:56:15

Dromedary - What KRITIQ just said ^

OP - it will be interesting to see how they have actually changed the sign.

It is interesting that there are enough transgender people in one university to get this changed, very strange the people who are transgender have requested this - I wonder why and perhaphs it's the why that should actually be addressed, not the signage.

Dromedary Wed 05-Dec-12 01:05:05

KRITIQ - I'm not doing that, I don't think. The point I was trying to make is that when you think that you are in a women only environment, you can get an awful shock if you find that you're not. I don't want to undress in a single sex dorm and then find that one of the "women" in the dorm is in fact a man. I don't want my young DD to maybe take her top off in the ladies loos to wash a stain out and find that the "woman" at the washbasin next to her is in fact a man. Being punched by a woman in the dorm would have been horrible. But being punched by a woman who seemed to be incredibly strong (much purple bruising) and finding out that they were in fact a man was much more shocking.

KRITIQ Wed 05-Dec-12 01:43:22

Dromedary, it's just that I've heard exactly the same arguments used in a different context and in a different country (the US) to bar gay and Lesbian teachers. This came after a female teacher was prosecuted for sexual assaults on two junior high aged girls in the local area. On one hand, I could understand parents' wanting their children to be safe and mistakenly believed they were at greater risk of sexual assault from a gay or Lesbian teacher. The teacher who abused the two girls did so because she was an abuser, not because she was gay.

I understand that from your experience, you seem to genuinely perceive trans women as posing a risk to you or our daughter, just as the parents in my home town genuinely perceived Lesbian teachers as a risk to them and their daughters. In reality, folks whose identities don't conform to social expectations tend to be even more cautious than most about where they go, what they do and how they interact with others in "private" situations (like toilets) because they already know there are people out there who aren't willing to accept their difference and they don't want to get embroiled in a conflict when all they want to do is have a pee or change into a swimsuit. They also know they could be open to abuse themselves, so will head for the private cubicle or be as discrete as practically possible.

HalloweenNameChange Wed 05-Dec-12 02:41:30

transsexuals who are physically still men

I don't want to put words in dromedarys mouth but I think she is talking about men who haven't gone through surgery etc. This seems fair to me, as really any guy wanting in to a woman only space could reasonably just put on a dress and then women there will be expected to behave as though they haven't got a man in front of them for fear of being seen as phobic. Someone who after surgery etc, I would see as another female and would change in front of them etc the way I would any woman (of any sexual orientation)

madwomanintheattic Wed 05-Dec-12 04:32:09

<sigh>
But you don't need surgery to be legally recognised as a woman.

Are we really really going to do this again?

Were you really more shocked just because you found out it was a transwoman, dromedary? I can't imagine being any more shocked than being punched in the face unexpectedly by anyone after I had retired for the night...

A transwoman is completely entitled to be physically intact and still identify as a transwoman. There is no reason at all why a transwoman (with a penis) would be any more likely to 'do' anything to a woman washing her shirt in the ladies.

Yes, private cubicles would save you the bother of your paranoia.

But, you know, let's let the trans phobia thing out again if we have to.

(Am lolling at your 'like a woman only stronger!' You obviously didn't see the stupid little troll earlier who was claiming to be a 17 yo boy who was doing the bravado because he'd insulted a teeny weeny 16 yo girly girly who was an expert in martial arts, but because he was a real man, though he could 'ave her in a fist fight anyway.)

I'm really sorry you got punched. But you didn't get punched because you shared a room with a transwoman. You got punched because you shared a room with a person with violent and unpredictable behaviour. Could have been a man or a woman. Plenty of people been glassed or other gbh by a woman. Even one without a penis.

Pilgit Wed 05-Dec-12 07:36:40

It sounds like the uni is being lazy and thoughtless rather than specifically 'saying' anything. Of course, the underlying/in grained position on it from the uni is irritating.

SomersetONeil Wed 05-Dec-12 08:17:53

My Halls at university were unisex. You toileted, showered, washed hands, the works in there. I was shock when I first realised as a naive 18 year old, but got used to it so unbelievably quickly that to this day I do not understand the need for gendered loos...

People share quite happily in their own homes. I get that some people might be put off if they're nervous about assault. But if shared loos were the norm, then surely assault would generally be no more likely to take place here than anywhere else.

As for men's loos and then everyone else's loos... Unbelievable...

kim147 Wed 05-Dec-12 08:39:11

Well it didn't take too long for the transphobic comments to appear. As it happens, I have a potential YHA weekend away with a YHA walking group staying in a hostel and I don't know what to do.

I don't even know how to broach the conversation. The last thing I want to do is make anyone uncomfortable.

SomersetONeil Wed 05-Dec-12 08:42:57

kim - it must be really hard. This is why loos should be gender-free for everyone. Men as well as the rest of us 'other' types...

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