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

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...

SomersetONeil Wed 05-Dec-12 08:45:51

Is it Fabric in London that famously has unisex loos? I remember using them in whichever club it was, but it's all a bit hazy... :-/ Do they still? Have an other establishments gone that way?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 05-Dec-12 08:46:03

Kim, hope you're ok. Is the walking this weekend? It's going to be cold if so!

Wilding Wed 05-Dec-12 08:49:58

Yes, all Fabric's toilets are unisex - just a load of cubicles and big communal hand-washing facilities. Seems to work fine.

kim147 Wed 05-Dec-12 08:52:18

Well right now I'm getting ready for an interview - yet another place where I am absolutely certain I face discrimination but can't prove or say anything.

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 08:56:25

I'm aware this is a difficult topic for a lot of us, but mad, your phrase 'physically intact' gets to me a bit.

Are men who've undergone surgery no longer 'physically intact' (I don't follow how that connotation could be anything but negative)? Or are women not 'physically intact'. I'm possibly over-thinking but I just felt a bit unsettled by that phrase in this context.

kim - call the YHA and ask if they're one with mixed dorms/loos? Most are AFAIK.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 05-Dec-12 09:02:03

HNC, I don't think that any guy wanting to go into a woman only space can "just put on a dress". The provisions of the Equalities Act 2010 IIRC apply to those who are living as the other gender, not people who put on a dress one day and a tuxedo the next.

AliceWChild Wed 05-Dec-12 09:03:39

I'm surprised people are surprised. It's pretty usual for the LGBT officer to campaign for 'gender neutral' toilets, the universities I know of have them. There's a whole scene round being 'gender queer/trans' with a perceived coolness attached and strong campaigning. It's big deal in student politics.

The way those signs have been changed is indeed telling. Men then others.

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 09:05:54

Genderless and gender neutral are very different IMO.

I'm surprised if a university has honestly thought it was a good idea to label the non-men's toilet the 'genderless' toilet.

SomeTiggyPudding Wed 05-Dec-12 09:08:33

The DoctineOfSnatch said: "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. "

I think the thread shows that a lot of people would be disgusted if a 'Male2Female' transssexual uses the women's toilets. A lot of people would also be disgusted if the person were to use the men's toilets. It might also ruin the chances of the person receiving treatment as it could be a sign of lack of commitment to her 'new' gender. They could use the disabled toilets but a lot of people would be disgusted, such as people with disabilities meaning they have to use those loo,s as well as Transpeople who do not view their medical situation as a disability.
In short, if a transsexual person leaves their house some people will get disgusted. Bloody disgusted people everywhere. Fuck 'em. It's the disgusted people who should only ever use their own toilets at home not the person with a recognised medical condition. No public toilets should be made available to the disgusted.

They probably changed the ladies into neutal because it could be done with a quick sign change rather than plumbing and re-cubiclising. Ask them their toilet plans.

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 09:21:00

If I promise I'm not 'disgusted', am I still allowed to be angry at the idea that being female is seen as the same as being 'genderless' (if the OP is accurate and honestly, OP, are you sure because it seems really odd)?

SomeTiggyPudding Wed 05-Dec-12 09:26:26

I don't think I've ever heard anybody in the TG world describe themselves as being genderless. The wrong gender, both genders, inter-gender, but never genderless. I think maybe the toilets are genderless. Bad wording.

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 09:30:09

What is 'the TG world'?

I'm a woman. I'm not 'genderless' and if the sign on one door says 'men' or 'men's toilets' it's fucking rude to me (and surely to transwomen too?!) to put a sign saying 'genderless' on the other one.

You seem to have focussed on your personal assumption people are going to be 'disgusted' at transgender people, and ignored that bit of the OP, and I don't quite get why. Surely it is actually quite a valid reason to be pissed off?

There is a perfectly good word for toilets that are intended for whoever wants to use them, and it's unisex.

If a university (or any other place of work) has really put a sign up saying 'women/genderless', that's fucked up.

ethelb Wed 05-Dec-12 09:34:54

They did this when I was at uni.

I did kind of get it but I fel that it took away the opportnity for people to be trans inclusive without it being forced on them iyswim.

Are you at Manchester? i was.

Shelby2010 Wed 05-Dec-12 09:40:40

I expect the university only needs one transgender person in order to need to provide toilet facilities for them. If a male-to-female is wearing a dress & uses the men's toilets they are more likely to be hassled & will not be following their own requirements of living life as a woman.

The sign will have been put on the women's toilets in order to 'warn' them that they may encounter a transgender individual in what is normally a women only environment. I can't believe that anyone does anything more personal than wash their hands in the communal area of a library toilet so what's the problem?

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 09:48:49

People mentioned urinals in men's toilets, which for some reason I can't quite follow, would be too much of sacred ground to risk letting a transgender person witness on their way to the cubicles (I don't think, based on what DH says, many loos have only urinals, do they? Or do they?).

But I think the 'warning' is a poor excuse.

Putting 'women/genderless' is discriminatory. It doesn't make it ok that the university thinks they're 'warning' some people of their policy that people can use the toilets of the gender they nominate, and it doesn't make sense either - if you provide for MtoF transsexuals you should do the same for FtoM.

Shelby2010 Wed 05-Dec-12 10:13:07

As (IMO) F-M transsexuals are usually less conspicuous, they probably just use the cubicles in the men's toilets without anyone even noticing.

I agree that the wording on the sign (which we don't know yet) needs to be thought out, but all this talk of building new toilets is ridiculous. Where is the money going to come from? I'm sure the students would rather it was spent on cheap beer books!

How about if they signed the men's toilets as "Men & F-M transgender" and the women's as "Women & M-F transgender"? That should keep everyone quiet happy. Apart from those who think all transexuals are some kind of sexual pervert/predator & quite frankly they can poo in their pants for all I care.

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 10:16:00

I don't think they should build new toilets. I think they should have unisex toilets. Much simpler.

Fortunately, I don't think students get to decide university budgets, or it definitely would be cheap beer! grin

I think the signs you suggest would work too, but I don't know enough about how transsexuals would take that to be sure?

Shelby2010 Wed 05-Dec-12 12:08:35

Ask the people concerned? That's a bit revolutionary, even for students! I would imagine that there would differing opinions like in any other group of individuals. Some may be offended that it discriminates against them by suggesting they aren't 'real' men/women, others would be pleased that everyone knew the 'rules' and the rest won't care as long as they can have a pee in peace.......

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 12:16:53


I thought I just did. That was a question mark at the end.

I'm sure the students canvassed people and I'd hope the university did, but since the OP's raised the question here, what's wrong with me asking a question here too?

kim147 Wed 05-Dec-12 12:32:11

I just want to go to the toilet. smile

Dromedary Wed 05-Dec-12 12:55:54

This is a difficult one. Personally, if I am spending the night in a dorm with only other women in it, I will probably behave slightly differently - I will undress less carefully than I would if there were men in the dorm. I might feel a bit uneasy if I were in a dorm on my own with a man I don't know, and might prefer to avoid that situation, or to avoid it for my children (in a youth hostel they would go to bed in the single sex dorm while I am still downstairs in the living room). I appreciate that most men are not dangerous, but I think that it is sensible to take some precautions with men that you don't know, particularly in respect of young female children.

I suppose the issue is that I don't feel that a pre-op male to female transsexual is actually a woman. They may feel that they are a woman. If I don't know them, I will not feel or be able to trust that they are essentially a woman. In any event, in the living as a woman stage they are finding out whether the operation is in fact for them - they may decide to stay as a man.

Do other people genuinely feel that if a man is dressed as a woman (and remember that you don't know this person, or how genuine they are), you are happy simply to treat them and feel towards them as you would a woman, and that knowing that they are from a body point of view at least a man would make no difference to you?

I don't want to offend anyone, but maybe if you are going to a youth hostel as a pre-op male to female it would be sensible either to get a private room (which many years ago was the YHA policy, I was told), or ensure that if you would like to share a female only room the other occupants know about the situation and are happy with it.

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 13:00:33

I think that's pretty offensive, TBH. I don't get what 'precautions' you'd take.

I can see someone not wanting their children in a mixed dorm (and YHA don't let you have children in mixed dorms anyway!), but I would think the risk would be more children seem random pissed students/a bit of nudity.

kim147 Wed 05-Dec-12 13:01:53

"I don't want to offend anyone, but maybe if you are going to a youth hostel as a pre-op male to female it would be sensible either to get a private room (which many years ago was the YHA policy, I was told), or ensure that if you would like to share a female only room the other occupants know about the situation and are happy with it. "

How would they know? Do you need a genital check?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 05-Dec-12 13:53:24

Dromedary you might feel like that but it would be a breach of the Equalities Act were organisations to act in the way that you outline.

SolidGoldYESBROKEMYSPACEBAR Wed 05-Dec-12 14:11:31

Probably because I have been physically attacked by women on more than one occasion, I don't consider myself more at risk when there are men, transgender people, adults, children, foreigners, members of specific religions, or people from other social classes in the same space as me. Dangerous and tiresome people can exist in every class of human being.

SoldMySoulToSanta Wed 05-Dec-12 14:23:08

I wouldn't have an issue with any person identfying as trans of any nature using the same loo, but thinking back to when I was at uni this would be abused my male twats students going into the ladies for a laugh. Either all gender free or better wording for clarity of who may use them

ChippingInLovesAutumn Wed 05-Dec-12 14:28:06

AliceWChild - why on earth are you suprised that those of us who aren't still at university, don't have children there or work there have no idea what the current 'student politics' are?

Dromedary - I am sure you aren't intending to be - but you are being very offensive. You are accusing male to female transgender people of being abusers (at least far more potentially likely to be) and saying no woman is ever abusive if you are unhappy to leave your child in a room with a M-F TG but not with a (strange) woman. If your children are young then either you should book a private/family room or not send them to be without you, any stranger is as likely or unlikely to abuse your child as the next.

Kim47 - I am really sorry that going about your life can be so bloody challenging sad Not everyone who isn't themselves TG or doesn't know anyone TG is that judgemental, honest. As for your walking weekend do you know the people you are going with?

Dromedary Wed 05-Dec-12 14:30:51

LRD - so you would be quite happy to put your young daughters to sleep in a dorm with men you've never seen before in bed or getting ready for bed (no women) while you were in another part of the building?
A pre-op male to female is not a woman. They are a man leading life as a woman for a period of time to determine whether they should go ahead with the medical treatment. Does this mean that every individual has some kind of moral obligation to feel and act towards them exactly as one would do towards a woman? That is not realistic, and in certain circumstances it may not be safe.
It is silly to equate somebody feeling more at risk when sharing a room with a man, or having their daughter do so, to someone feeling more at risk with sharing a room with a child, a methodist, an upper class person, etc.
The huge majority of sexual harassment, rape and sexual abuse of children is carried out by men. It is stupid not to bear that in mind and not to be a bit careful if you find yourself alone and about to go to sleep, and more so if it is a little girl, in a bedroom with a man you have never seen before.

kim147 Wed 05-Dec-12 14:34:59

Don't worry, dromedary because I am more than aware of what people think and that's why I avoid such situations.

Even though most abuse happens in the home and if a man wanted to abuse a child in a hostel, it would be incredibly easy to sneak into a dorm at night.

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 14:35:00

I've already told you, YHA don't let children in mixed dorms.

You are creating a fake situation and it's scaremongering.

The reason YHA won't let small children go in dorms is, as chipping says, because they can't be responsible for all the adults there (whoever they are). I would imagine most parents are happy with this since you wouldn't want your child in most mixed dorms I've ever been in - constant 'mummy, look, that lady has a hairy bottom!' cries would be the least of it.

I am aware that violence and abuse are gendered, but I think you're not half shoehorning that issue in here, when it's not relevant. God knows I disagree with kim on plenty of subjects but I think it's not on to twist that comment about a YHA when you're not even getting your facts straight. It feels awfully personal.

kim147 Wed 05-Dec-12 14:36:44

My eyes have been opened to more discrimination now than I never knew existed. Situations arise that you just don't think about.

kim147 Wed 05-Dec-12 14:37:54

Would you want your son staying in a dorm with other men? Because men abuse boys as well.

Dromedary Wed 05-Dec-12 14:40:32

Alice - I think I've answered your comment, but just to make sure. Men are statistically far far more likely to sexually abuse a child than women. I agree that the chances are in favour of neither gender abusing a child on a one off visit to a youth hostel, but the risk is definitely greater from a man than a woman. Based on this I am prepared to take the tiny risk of leaving my daughter in a single sex dorm, but not to take the higher risk of leaving them alone with men who are strangers to us. That is a logical position to take. You may believe that men who are pre-op are less of a risk than men who are not going through the transgender process. I have no idea whether you are right or not, and would be very surprised if there were any statistics on this. It is also impossible to know whether such a man is genuinely transgender or not, anyway.
The youth hostel association provides single sex dorms for a reason - many people prefer to share a room with people of their own sex only. I am one of these people, at least where my children are concerned. And I can't always afford a private family room.
I'd be interested to know what the current position of the Youth Hostel Association is on this - might try to find out.

kim147 Wed 05-Dec-12 14:42:53

This is reminiscent of the man sat next to a child on a plane or a man working in nursery.

n.b. It's kind of nice not to call people who are MTF transgendered men. But each to their own.

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 14:46:04


States clearly that children cannot go in mixed dorms without a parent (the situation you describe, dromedary).

This is from 2009, and I know the hostel I regularly stay at has a policy, which it says is YHA policy, not to allow children (under 16) into dorms at all.

I don't see why any adult would leave a child alone overnight and assume they'd be risk free.

ChippingInLovesAutumn Wed 05-Dec-12 14:47:16

Kim - did you see my question earlier? (14.28)

ChippingInLovesAutumn Wed 05-Dec-12 14:48:13

LRD - I don't think she's leaving them overnight, just putting them to bed earlier than she goes to bed.

madwomanintheattic Wed 05-Dec-12 14:48:22

'Genuinely transgender'


No, drom. Sorry.you are completely wrong.

There is no necessity for surgical intervention at all. Yes, there are a number of hoops to jump through if one wishes to access gender reassignment surgery. But there is no law at all that says you have to have it to be recognised as transgender.

Apols for the 'physically intact' phraseology. I was just using it as shorthand for not having undergone GRS. I do get that it might be a bit, erm, veterinary and so not a good choice, particularly wrt to the absence/ lack debate. I don't like 'pre-surgery' for the same reasons, as it implies that everyone must have surgery, and that surgery is the norm in this equation. I am now struggling for a shorthand... <not enough caffeine and it's early here...>

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 14:51:21

chipping - well, this is the point where I bow out because I don't have children, and if I comment on what I think I would do, I'll look judgy.

I do think dromedary has picked up on a detail in someone's post and gone running with it.

Dromedary Wed 05-Dec-12 14:54:00

I go to youth hostels a lot - those in the YHA don't have mixed dorms (the bunk bed buildings may be different). Children are allowed in the dorms (all single sex) from the age of 5. They must have a same sex parent accompanying (but that person doesn't have to be in the dorm with them at all times).
I think that there would be an issue with leaving young boys alone for very long in all men dorms, and would hesitate to do that if I had a son.
Yes, a man can follow a child around, into any dorm, any family room (if unlocked), and other parts of the building, outside, in the street, etc etc etc. It is a question of where you draw the line in terms of the level of risk you are prepared to accept in not wanting to hover around your child every second of the day.
Do you think that I should be teaching my young daughters that everyone is equally harmless and to be trusted? Or that they should never trust anyone? I have told them that if they get lost they should go into a shop and speak to a female shop assistant for help. Is that morally wrong, because it discriminates against men? I have told them that some children are tempted into cars etc by adults who are usually but not always men. Is that wrong of me? I want to give them realistic advice that will make it more likely that they will keep themselves safe, without scaring them unnecessarily. This should not be about political correctness - it should be about the reality of the world that we live in.

kim147 Wed 05-Dec-12 14:54:32

chipping - I know some of the people. But at the moment I can't afford to go anyway. Seeing as how I'm kind of finding it difficult to get a permanent job.

But I am uncomfortable even asking - I'd hope people would be fine. I don't even mind really going in the male dorm - but would they feel uncomfortable? And would I when I got dressed?

It's a minefield. I bet the YHA haven't even got a transgender policy and I don't know how it would be policed. I'm sure the group hasn't got a policy. But you've got to start somewhere.

I love these threads.

ChippingInLovesAutumn Wed 05-Dec-12 14:56:18

LRD - don't bow out, there's no need to. You are just as entitled to have an opinion about what you would do if you had 2 small girls as anyone else smile

I think the thread has strayed away from the original question - but most of the best ones do!

I think that dromedary had a bad experience with one horrible person and is now unable to be rational about the situation.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 05-Dec-12 14:58:41

Thanks madwoman, saved me a post.

It is a necessary pre-condition to surgery to live as the other gender for a period of time. But not all transgender people are in preparation for surgery.

I wouldn't leave a young child in a dormitory with strange adults regardless of gender, TBH. What if said adult stole their things or swore at them or something?

kim147 Wed 05-Dec-12 15:01:10

dromedary this kind of thing has been debated before on here. Who do you go and see? How much of a risk are men? Would you want a male teacher in nursery?

The predominant risk of abuse is in the home. Not by a random stranger in a hostel or on a plane. There is a potential risk but pretty minute. How many children have been abused by a man when they got lost in a shopping centre?

FWIW - I work as a teacher. I even work in nursery on occasion. No one seems to be concerned or have any issues.

You would not believe how much I hate it when someone seems to link transgender and abuse on these threads. It is really upsetting. Just because I was born in male body does not make me an abuser. I want to just live my life without causing anyone any upset.

Dromedary Wed 05-Dec-12 15:01:26

Kim - I am quite happy for my child to sit next to a man or anyone else on a plane, and am very keen on male nursery workers - male role models and all that. Similarly with transgender - not a problem at all.

By "may not be genuinely transgender" I meant that it would be quite easy for any man to claim that he is transgender when he was not, if he found it to his advantage. Very unlikely, I agree.

LRD - all I can say on the youth hostel association point is that my children and I stay at their hostels all the time, and have several times stayed in dorms (these have always been single sex, I have never come across a mixed dorm in the YHA). We have done this since the youngest was 5, the last stay in a dorm being a few weeks ago. Prior to that, had to stay in private rooms, as per the rules.

kim147 Wed 05-Dec-12 15:03:28

Personally if I went away with my son, I'd want a family room. Not a dorm. Just because it's easier for him to relax and be himself in without all those pesky walkers getting up at 6am for a days walking.

ChippingInLovesAutumn Wed 05-Dec-12 15:07:39

Dromedary - It is a question of where you draw the line in terms of the level of risk you are prepared to accept in not wanting to hover around your child every second of the day Well, I draw the line at not putting the children to bed in a strange place, with strangers of any sex, in an unsecure building. They stay up later than normal & I/we go to bed earlier than normal. Not ideal when you are on holiday, but safe beats ideal. Nothing whatsoever to do with hovering around them every second of the day.

As for the rest of your post, I think you should teach your daughters that if they get lost they should look for a parent with their children or a person serving in a shop. It is simply not necessary to insist those people are female.

ithaka Wed 05-Dec-12 15:07:39

I think the issue isn't mixed dorms, as children aren't allowed in mixed dorms. Dromedary is concerned her children may be in a single sex dorm with a man transitioning to be a woman. I am not sure if that would concern me or not - I don't tend to pay much attention to other people in the dorms, but I could see it may concern someone who was vulnerable (ie abuse victim).

Anyhoo, on the issue of toilets, I definitely think unisex are the way to go. My daughter's high school has unisex toilets - individual cubicals and then the washing facilities are in an open/public space. It helps to prevent cornering and bullying in toilets/vandalism etc and seems a practical solution to any concerns about which toilet transitioning people should use.

Dromedary Wed 05-Dec-12 15:11:44

Kim - I don't feel that I am linking transgender and abuse. I accept that I am linking males and higher risk of abuse, and am linking male to female transgender to males if they have a male body. I would not feel any more concern with a transgender person than with a male. You I think feel that I should feel less concern. You may be right, but there is not much information to go on (unless you can point us in the right direction).

Again, I have no issues with males / transgender being teachers, nursery workers, etc etc. Those are environments in which there are other people, the staff are vetted, people know them, etc etc.

As a young woman I suffered plenty of sexual harassment and got into a couple of risky situations. Always men, never women, and always strangers. Bad things do happen to children and women out there - sorry to mention Jimmy Saville, but it's an easy example.

TheElfOnThePanopticon Wed 05-Dec-12 15:16:12

Strangers are strangers, and I really don't think it's appropriate to base trustworthiness on someone's genitals.

Unisex/ gender neutral toilets are a good idea, but I would be a bit pissed off if the men's loos were kept as men's for anything other than the short term.

kim147 Wed 05-Dec-12 15:17:09

dromedary Controversial on here but do you understand what being transgender actually is and how that might relate to how people may act towards others?

I don't know what goes on in someone's mind and their background to make them an abuser. But MTFs are different to your typical male in so many ways.

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 15:18:25

Ok, if we've moved on from hypothetical children ... what's a 'typical male', kim?

ChippingInLovesAutumn Wed 05-Dec-12 15:18:55


How did the interview go this morning? I hope you get enough money to go on the trip, it would be a shame to miss out/ Eat baked beans for the rest of the month?? grin

The people you do know, are they aware of your situation?

Do they know you as a female?

Why would you ask? I guess that's probably dependant on your answer to my first question.

Could you/would you not get dressed in the shower cubicle? Not because your are TG, simply because that's what a lot of people do when they are sharing with people they don't know.

I think if it was me, if I lived my life as a female and 'looked female' (when dressed) I would just book in as a female and change in the shower cubicle. If I lived as a female but didn't 'look female' then I would probably book a single room - not because I (or you) should, but it would be what I would feel most comfortable doing, because I wouldn't want to discuss it with a large group (once again, no reason you shouldn't, I just know I wouldn't want to). Unless of course I could book in with a small group of females who I was friendly enough with to discuss it. I am so sorry your life is this complicated sad

kim147 Wed 05-Dec-12 15:21:01

Well - your typical male does not take oestrogen, change their name, get rid of their testosterone and reduce their penis size for starters.

This is a real issue for me now.
I have an operation soon. Not "the operation". It will involve going on a ward.
Which one? I'm due for a pre-op tomorrow.

This is a first for me.

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 15:23:45

That makes sense - I see what a typical male is not. A typical man is also 'not' many other things.

What is a 'typical male'?

I'm not just being snarky here - I think this is really important. I don't understand why people are talking about issues like urinals in men's bathrooms as if they create some kind of inviolable sacred space for 'men', whereas women should be happy to be 'women/genderless' (I don't begin to get why anyone wants to identify as 'genderless' and didn't know it was the same thing at all, but that may be me).

Surely it matters what we think a 'typical male' is in this situation, and a 'typical woman' for that matter?

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 15:24:22

(Btw, I didn't say, thank you chipping. smile)

ChippingInLovesAutumn Wed 05-Dec-12 15:31:00

Urinals are useful, when there are urinals, queues are shorter. However, in a library, I doubt that is really necessary, both sets of toilets should be changed to Unisex. Job done, with very little expense and upset.

ChippingInLovesAutumn Wed 05-Dec-12 15:32:06

LRD smile

Dromedary Wed 05-Dec-12 15:36:58

Elf - we'll have to agree to disagree. I just don't think it's sensible to send young girls out into the world armed with the information that all people present an equal level of risk.

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 15:37:29

Queues for men's loos tend to be shorter anyway.

Interestingly (god, no, it's really not interesting, is it?!) quite a lot of elderly buildings have the wrong balance of men's loos to women's loos because back in the day they'd have provision for men and for the odd visiting women/female cleaner, and they can't cope with roughly equal numbers of men and women, given women spend longer on the loo.

(So, she rambles, why the feck make it the women's loos that are 'genderless'?!)

madwomanintheattic Wed 05-Dec-12 15:49:12

I find it interesting, lrd. grin. It's a great literal example of 'woman, know thy place'. Presents a really neat cameo from a business perspective to line up alongside all the hearth and domestic stuff. Fascinating.

Another one of my pet not-so-secret research projects on gendered public spaces is calling me... grin I so should have veered off into human geography somewhere along the line.

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 15:54:31


Glad it wasn't totally dull. Human geography would be fascinating - I wish I'd realized that at school!

ChippingInLovesAutumn Wed 05-Dec-12 16:07:55

There are so many things that would have been interesting to have known about when I was still at school. Any adult with a view other than accountant/teacher/doctor would have been interesting & appreciated.

HalloweenNameChange Wed 05-Dec-12 16:27:34

Hope my comment on the first page didn't offend, it wasn't meant to. And if it did I apologise

badguider Wed 05-Dec-12 17:02:30

I am sort of ignoring the transgender debate here as I don't know how the thread got into that tangle and don't have anything useful to add...

But on the topic of toilets, I don't care who does what inside a stall. I am happy to share rooms consisting of many stalls with anybody providing there are properly closing and locking doors which provide complete modesty screening. Men should not explode if they see a sanitary ware bin or dispensor and women should be able to use a dispensor without dying of embarassment (afterall shops selling sanitary wear are not women-only spaces).

I don't like walking past urinating males and seeing naked penises (as you have to in a lot of unisex toilets in france). So I'd be happy with two doors - one marked 'urinals' the other marked 'toilets'.

AliceWChild Wed 05-Dec-12 17:30:06

Chipping, I'm surprised because in my feminist world I come across a lot of students, so I see a lot of what their priorities are, what they campaign about. I would have imagined that to be common to other people's feminist worlds. I guess not. That surprises me. No great shakes

TheSmallClanger Wed 05-Dec-12 17:32:30

The only TG people I have known just use the loo for the gender they identify as.

The university is Manchester, isn't it? I'm not really sure what they're trying to achieve with this, other than confuse people, patronise TG people and make a vaguely antifeminist point.

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 17:38:37

chipping - true. Same here!

alice - shows how out of touch I am. I am a student and so (unsurprisingly) are most of my RL mates. I live in a town with two universities, attend a third one and regularly visit two more, so I've got a fair sense of several student communities.

I had no idea 'genderless' loos were a thing, or even unisex ones.

The undergraduate feminists at my university seem (so far as I've seen) to be very focussed on better approaches to sexual assaults and good strategies for feminist teaching and learning (cos they're awesome).

At a couple of other universities I've known students to get very into transactivism, but I can't say this specific issue is one I've come across often.

SomeTiggyPudding Wed 05-Dec-12 17:45:44

Having unisex loos would make life easier for transvestites too. Unisex is the way forwards.
I think the library just isn't very good with words. They will probably change the gent's to unisex too. The work will start next Thursday.

kim147 Wed 05-Dec-12 17:48:58

I think the library just isn't very good with words.


<Did not get job btw>

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 17:53:20

Unisex also much easily for shagging in. Very practical for your average 'no, I can't wait' students.

Very traumatic for LRD-types who have to pretend they have no idea what you were doing while your eyes meet over the handdryer.

(All together now - ewwwwww)

AliceWChild Wed 05-Dec-12 18:16:52

LRD good to hear.

Google tells me the NUS included it in a guide in 2008 and brings back lots of hits from various universities across the country. So maybe it depends how on board they are with NUS politics.

CrunchyFrog Wed 05-Dec-12 18:28:53

I can think of an easy answer- label one toilet as "cubicles" and one as "urinals/ cubicles" or similar.

Those in a position of penis ownership/ a shewee/ good aim and flexibility/ not needing a poo can use the urinals, everyone else can use either set of cubicles although having worked in a pub I think urinals are there for something to look at while they piss on the floor

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 18:57:57

Oh, how weird. When I googled 'genderless toilets' I just got the MN thread. Can you link?

If this really is in an NUS guide I'm inclined to see if any of the student feminists I know fancy kicking up a stick. It's a really nasty, sneaky bit of casual misogyny - much worse than if an individual library has just been 'not good with words'.

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 18:58:32

crunchy - there we go! Perfect elegant solution.

TheElfOnThePanopticon Wed 05-Dec-12 19:52:35

Dromedary- I totally get your point about risk, but part of my risk assessment kit would be the knowledge that trans people (regardless of whether or not they have a penis) taken ad a group have very, very high levels of experiencing sexual violence and very low levels if perpetrating.

I like the cubicles/urinals labelling.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 05-Dec-12 20:08:57

Maybe some men would protest the urinals/cubicle labelling as then people outside would know if they were going for a poo.

(I have had the misfortune to discuss this topic with male colleagues before)

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 20:10:57


I was just saying to DH I think students would love it. There would rapidly be many non-official labels: 'this one is good for a long, slow shite' 'this loo is reserved for Ellie and Sam', etc. etc.

I worry the students I am know just aren't of the class some other posters know ...

CrunchyFrog Wed 05-Dec-12 20:27:16

The public toilets here are individual rather than a room of bogs, there's a disabled loo (which you could nearly swing quite a small cat in, if it didn't mind hitting the walls), one urinal, one proper loo with pic of man and woman on it. And nasty, nasty metal toilets and a needle disposal unit.

I thought this was a naice area.

Shelby2010 Wed 05-Dec-12 20:30:09

LRD, sorry if you took my comment the wrong way before.... I wasn't disagreeing with you, probably just missed out a grin or whatever the [Tongue-in-cheek] emoticon is.

My only problem with unisex toilets is that when I've gone in the men's out of desperation they usually seem to be in a much worse state. Obviously I don't get pissed desperate that often so its not like I've done a thorough survey, but they can be a bit Yuk.

And please can we just take it as read that I am a)sexist and/or b) facilitating men's subconcious belief that a woman will clean up after them, by not wanting to paddle through their badly aimed pee making this comment.

kim147 Wed 05-Dec-12 20:34:21

shelby Totally agree. Women's toilets just smell nicer.

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 20:35:24

Ah, sorry if you didn't get that across before ... gotcha now.

I guess if making loos unisex prompts some blokes to stop (literally) pissing things up for everyone else, that's good! I do always pity DH when he describes what they're like, ewww.

Sunnywithachanceofshowers Wed 05-Dec-12 21:29:03

LRD I heard about the library loos from a fellow student and I haven't had a chance to check. I'm in tomorrow and will check and will come back to the thread.

TheSmallClanger it's a London university, not Manchester.

I feel a bit daft for having posted without having checked blush and am really interested in the debate.

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 21:30:22

Thanks ... I'm not trying to be snarky, I'm just wondering what the feck was going on because it does sound really off, if it's true.

I think it'd make a big difference if the sign said 'gender neutral' rather than 'genderless', and if they're preparing to put it on both men's/women's loos, but I can totally believe people have made an arse-backwards decision, as they often do. sad

kim147 Wed 05-Dec-12 21:36:42

They could just put the word "toilet" up.

And shield the urinals so you don't get to peek.

To the women saying, why not just make all toilets unisex? Er, because the men's always stink!

kim147 Wed 05-Dec-12 21:47:37

I think men learn this at primary school. The boys' toilets at school have a smell all of their own.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 05-Dec-12 21:56:12

But don't the men's stink because of the urinals?

kim147 Wed 05-Dec-12 22:03:38

I think there's "splashback" as well which gets on the floor.

DoingItOntheRoofTopWithSanta Wed 05-Dec-12 22:09:46

doesn't male wee have a vile "special" scent as well? That's why it keeps away foxes and cats?

GalaxyDisaster Wed 05-Dec-12 22:10:54

I used to be a cleaner. As someone who has got far more up close and personal with gents toilets than I would wish, I can agree that IMO it is the bloody urinals. My area had one gents with just two cubicles and another floor had urinals and cubicles. The one with just the cubicles was far less stinky, and they had similar levels of traffic. My (male) colleague always reckoned men peed upwards more at a urinal and therefore there was more splash. With a toilet they were more conscious of aiming at a small, low level toilet.

KRITIQ Thu 06-Dec-12 01:15:01

Soz to hear you didn't get the job kim and good luck with the operation. May be a bit late in the day, but did you talk about practical arrangements on the ward with your surgeon or other staff who booked you in?

SomeTiggyPudding Thu 20-Dec-12 20:11:58

The OP never did come back to the thread.

Update please?

Sunnywithachanceofjinglebells Thu 20-Dec-12 20:20:47

Sorry Tiggy and everyone else, I got bogged down in essays and forgot all about it.

I've since found out it's the SU loos. I'm back on 7th January so will go and have a look.

SomeTiggyPudding Thu 20-Dec-12 20:28:28

I need reports on toilet name, colour scheme and odour. And whether it's now a choice between Men and Unisex loos in the building.

Good luck with your boggy essays.

Sunnywithshowers Mon 11-Mar-13 17:38:23

I have finally visited the SU loos. The downstairs loos are labelled 'Gender neutral' and 'Male'. There are 'Female' loos elsewhere in the building.

The 'Gender Neutral' loos look exactly like 'Female' loos: there's a machine for buying durex / sanitary protection and bins for the aforementioned sanitary protection in each cubicle. I suspect the only thing that has changed is the label.

So I'm still slightly hmm about it, but am happy that 'Female' loos are available and they're not all 'Gender Neutral' and 'Male'.

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