Page 2 | How to approach the 'TW in a work loo' issue

(318 Posts)
LockdownLisa Tue 14-Sep-21 21:57:20

This was my thread from a few weeks ago. My colleague has now come out as trans, which is fine. However, I saw her use the women's toilets today, which is not so fine. We do have self contained disabled toilets which I think would be more appropriate.

All we've had from management is a 'Peter is now Sandra, work systems will be updated to reflect this' type email. There's been very little chat in the office about it so I can't gauge how other people feel about it.

I don't really feel comfortable approaching my section manager as I know I'll just be fobbed off. I was thinking about emailing my HR department (I work for an NHS hospital trust, it's a Stonewall member as I think most of them are) but have no idea how to word it!

Does anybody have any suggestions? I was thinking something very simple like:
'Please can you clarify our policy on which toilets, changing rooms and showers our transgender staff are expected to use?'

I'm the lowest of the low in terms of my banding and although I've held more senior positions than this before, I'm so uncertain how to handle this. I believe (from the previous thread) that women are legally entitled to same sex provision, but fighting for that right in the workplace isn't an easy thing to do, especially from my lowly position 😕.

OP’s posts: |
astrowars Wed 15-Sep-21 06:56:13

When I was struggling with peri menopausal flooding, I ended up standing in my underwear, scrubbing my stained trousers in the sink. I received nothing but sympathy and empathy from my female colleagues whilst I tried to compose myself. I absolutely would not like to encounter a male bodied person whilst I was upset, vulnerable and half dressed, in the communal part of a female-only space. If this makes me transphobic, so be it.

Ereshkigalangcleg Wed 15-Sep-21 07:15:49

Maybe a preachy sign for the male loos? "Some males wear dresses. Get over it". (Yuck, but I gather that sort of thing is de rigeur now, and it would be nice to have it directed at men for a change).

I agree. It would be better directed at men, to make all males feel comfortable in the appropriate space.

Ereshkigalangcleg Wed 15-Sep-21 07:16:39

Our rights do not stand or fall with a male person's motivation, they exist in their own right. Believe it or not, but we are fully realised human beings and thus have rights of our own. Hard won rights that enable us to participate in public life and that exist even without the approval of male colleagues or misinformed HR departments.


Ereshkigalangcleg Wed 15-Sep-21 07:20:55

If you're feeling uncomfortable sharing the toilets with another woman, whether trans or not

She's not uncomfortable sharing the toilets with any women.

DoormatBob Wed 15-Sep-21 07:21:35


Additionally there's one high profile trans person who switches names gender pronouns etc during the week.

Use the ladies sometimes and the gents the other.

With this sort of thing really it needs to be all unisex surely and with provision to provide privacy comfort for all surely?

No it doesn't need to be all unisex.

This person is actually making a mockery of the whole thing, to constantly switch between male and female would suggest there is a set of criteria to assess yourself against. I have never seen these gender definitions?

Toilets, changing rooms etc are single-sex spaces. The word gender is not relevant.

Shedbuilder Wed 15-Sep-21 08:13:46


*"How to approach the 'TW in a work loo' issue"*

If you're feeling uncomfortable sharing the toilets with another woman, whether trans or not, then you always have the option of using the self contained disabled toilets, which you obviously accept would be appropriate to be used by an abled person.

Although the the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 govern the provision of toilets in the workplace, it does not cover the use of those toilets. Unless you are employed to clean those toilets, those toilets are a service provided to employees by an employer. In regards to both employment law and the use of services, the Equality Act 2010 applies.

As noted in the Statutory Codes of Practice, it is unlawful to bar a trans person from using services or facilities of their expressed gender unless doing so is a "proportionate means to a legitimate ends", can be "objectively justified" that such an act of discrimination is appropriate— that the use of those toilets by a trans person means that no other person would use them and no other provision is available, and it is objectively justifiable that other people would not use the toilets if a trans person uses them—that the use of the exception is, by its nature, exceptional and requires a high bar to be proved to be a lawful act of discrimination, and must be justified to the use of the toilets by that specific trans person. In your case, your employer would not begin to meet those conditions, even if they wished to use the appropriate exemption in the Equality Act 2010. Which as you've already pointed out, they do not.

As for what happens if an employer attempts to stop a trans person using the toilets of their choice, or allows employees to harass or otherwise discriminate against an trans person using those toilets, please see Case No: 2206063/2017 and Case No: 1304471/2018 as examples of an employer who, inter alia, allowed this to happen or directly engaged in stopping a trans person from using the toilets of their choice.

But Peter/ Sandra isn't a 'another woman'. He's the man he was last month — he may not even look any different.


oldwomanwhoruns Wed 15-Sep-21 08:27:44

flowers to @LockdownLisa.
Put up a fight now, before this use gets established, I'd say. Great posting upthread from @CharlieParley with the relevant law.
But it's easy for me to say that, I didn't stand up, I left.

I've worked in the Civil Service, and the reality of having to get changed in front of a known male is like another attack. It's truly disturbing.

ApplesinmyPocket Wed 15-Sep-21 08:58:37

I doubt this person would change up their entire life to use a female toilet, so I think I'd ask yourself what is making you wary and why.

What's making her wary? She didn't say she was wary (loaded language intended to dismiss and deride.) She simply wants, like women have always wanted and had, by and large in first world countries, the dignity and privacy of knowing a place where you remove clothing and perform intimate functions is single SEX.

Everyone knows really that we separate the sexes for toilet, undressing, and sleeping purposes, but along come disingenuous posters to scoff and insinuate that unreasonable OP is 'wary' of kind old Peter/Sandra who 'just wants to pee'.

PegasusReturns Wed 15-Sep-21 08:59:34

@aBirdToldMeAboutIt that’s a total misrepresentation of the law. Have you done so deliberately or is it a genuine error?

OP you just need to make a very clear request to your employer “please identify the single sex toilet for women in [wherever you work]”

If you ask them to “clarify” they’ll do the TWAW. by asking them to identify what they are legally required to provide it’ll leave less wriggle room.

teawamutu Wed 15-Sep-21 09:11:36


Flibberty, should the OP have been happy to see Peter going into the ladies’ loos a few weeks ago?

If so why?

If not, what’s changed?

A simple, brilliant question.

I'd like to know the answer, too.

CorrBlimeyGG Wed 15-Sep-21 09:15:14

Walk into bathroom.
Enter toilet cubicle and use toilet.
Leave toilet cubicle and wash hands.
Leave bathroom.

What part of that do you have difficulty with?

If you have a disability, use the disabled toilet. That's who they're for, people with disabilities.

Wrongsideofhistorymyarse Wed 15-Sep-21 09:19:48

What part of that do you have difficulty with?

What part of 'the OP shouldn't have to share toilets with a man' are you struggling with?

ArabellaScott Wed 15-Sep-21 09:22:49

OP doesn't have a disability.

OP wishes to use a single sex facility, as is her right according to the legislation posted upthread.

Nobody's motivations really matter, here, bit pointless speculating.

Doesn't matter if her colleague has good or bad intentions.

Doesn't matter what OP's reasons are.

Legally OP is entitled to single sex space. That's it.

That's it.

MingeofDeath Wed 15-Sep-21 09:30:06

The "transwomen are at risk in the male toilets" trope pisses me off no end. There is no evidence of it ever happening. If there has been any man on TW attacks please link to it because I have not found one single incident.

Clymene Wed 15-Sep-21 09:31:10

I'm disappointed that @flibberyjibbery8 and @Quaggars weren't in the threads defending Alana McLoughlin's right to beat the shit out of a woman or on the Wii Spa threads defending the rights of a convicted sex offender to expose himself.

They're all the same thing. Either men can become women or they can't.

Ereshkigalangcleg Wed 15-Sep-21 09:35:56

Who counts as a man or woman in employment law is governed by the Equality Act. The definition of a woman is a "female of any age".

The Equality Act does not state that MTF trans people have the automatic right to access female single sex spaces, contrary to the claims of many TRAs and trans lobby organisations. There are exemptions provided for the provision of fully single sex toilets at the service provider's discretion, the test being that it is a "proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim". Women's privacy and dignity is (arguably) a legitimate aim, and providing a third space for trans people in addition to the single sex toilets for both sexes not accessible by the opposite sex is IMO proportionate.

However in the workplace there is the extra specification that where toilets are mixed sex they must be self contained, in a separate room.

Allowing males to access female cubicle toilets or providing a block of mixed sex ones where they are not in a separate room doesn't meet that.

Nomoreusernames1244 Wed 15-Sep-21 09:39:11

I have a question- if there are any observant muslim staff- or any other religion that has rules/guidance about interactions between men and women, how does this work?

I don’t know enough about islam to know if a man and woman are allowed to use the same toilet facilities, but surely it makes simple acts like using the mirror to rearrange a hijab more difficult?

Ereshkigalangcleg Wed 15-Sep-21 09:41:54

Pakistani feminist Bina Shah makes this point in her excellent recent blog challenging Judith Butler:

But if a trans woman with a penis is in the same space, then the Muslim woman will be in a terrible conflict about her actions in leaving her home. Suddenly, she is not able to remove her hijab or undress because she cannot do those things in front of a person with a male body who is not a family member. This not a hypothetical, there are Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu women who are now excluded from single sex-only spacess^^ because the definition of woman has changed to include women with penises. To call that Muslim woman a TERF because she expresses discomfort is yet another abuse for her. ^

sashh Wed 15-Sep-21 09:47:14

Someone beat me to it, I was going to say they need to comply with HASAWA, you should have an accident book and an incident book, this should be recorded in the incident book and sent to management for a soloution.

Obviously the disabled toilet is suitable as a single cubical for both sexes and then you have men's and women's.

Artichokeleaves Wed 15-Sep-21 09:59:31

As always people rushing to put the male person's needs and feelings as superior to those of any female and minimising, denying and shaming to get females in line.

That's called sexism. In fact it borders on male supremacism.

The facts are that it is a protected belief that a TW is male, and to perceive a TW as male. Some women will choose to believe they are women and have the privilege to be able to enact this belief by sharing a mixed sex space. Some women will not.

It is not acceptable to block women from using all women's spaces so that a male can use them. It is not acceptable to compel women to use spaces against their choice, consent, comfort, dignity or protected characteristics, because a male person's rights are seen as greater than theirs. It is not acceptable to compel participation in a political belief that you do not yourself hold.

OP, ask where the single sex loos are. It is fair enough to make arrangements for the TW colleague, but this must be so long as others remain accessible and equally accessible for female people who require female only provision. Live and let live. Mutual respect.

OldCrone Wed 15-Sep-21 10:27:36


The "transwomen are at risk in the male toilets" trope pisses me off no end. There is no evidence of it ever happening. If there has been any man on TW attacks please link to it because I have not found one single incident.

If the argument is that males who identify as transgender wouldn't be safe in the men's, the TRAs have an answer to that.

Any inappropriate behaviour can be reported after it has happened and the perpetrators can be dealt with.

And I really can't imagine what sort of workplace this could be if transgender people are at risk of physical attacks for simply using the correct sex toilets to 'just have a pee'.

FloralBunting Wed 15-Sep-21 10:33:19

If people are seriously relying on the 'TW is safer in the ladies' schtick, then they're going to have to explain why the men's provision at this business is so fucking dangerous. Because that rather seems like it should be higher priority than allowing some specific males to use the women's provision instead.

Datun Wed 15-Sep-21 10:40:14


Walk into bathroom.
Enter toilet cubicle and use toilet.
Leave toilet cubicle and wash hands.
Leave bathroom.

What part of that do you have difficulty with?

If you have a disability, use the disabled toilet. That's who they're for, people with disabilities.

I'm afraid women don't want males in their toilets. The answer is no.

What part of that do you have difficulty with?

Dougalskeeper Wed 15-Sep-21 10:41:07

It heartens me to see opinion harden up and move away from the "be kind" mantra. We've lost/ are losing so much thanks to that nonsense. "Be factual" is a more helpful phrase.

Didactylos Wed 15-Sep-21 10:49:43

Yes, why would the company be happy that Peters male colleagues, who have worked with and shared facilites with Peter for a period of time would suddenly become violent and transphobic and start attacking Peter for using the male toilets just because Peter has made some superficial changes to his name and appearance?
Is the change because male colleagues are intolerant and uncomfortable sharing space with a gender non conforming male? They should be educated and encouraged to accept Peter s new sartorial and lifestyle choices - after all Peter is no threat to them, their privacy or dignity.

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