I discovered a blog post describing an event which directly relates to some concerns expressed by myself and others regarding gender neutral washrooms. The writer is definitely not discriminating, and it’s absolutely worth the read if you care either way about this issue because there’s something to consider from all sides.
Was this man doing a “social experiment” as we’ve seen in the past with regard to various topics? It’s reasonable to predict that men who are inclined to intimidate – fully heterosexual men – could simply enter a women’s washroom because they can, and wait for reactions so they can then show cases of discrimination based on appearances. There’s already a TV show that has people doing very similar tests in social situations, so don’t shake your head as if I’m being too dramatic!
Was he a predator of some kind? Was he just confused and behaving strangely?
The main point is that even though he was doing nothing washroom related the whole time he was in there, none of the women felt safe in addressing his presence. None of them felt they had the right to question it.
I’d like to direct a couple of my own points to the transgendered group – specifically to those who are transitioning from male to female – for their consideration as they decide whether or not the rest of us have any reason to feel uncomfortable with certain things that are happening. Please forgive me in advance if I don’t use the proper terminology. I’m not always sure which terms are acceptable, so it isn’t my intention to be offensive. And please be clear on this: I AM NOT AFRAID OF YOU OR OF HAVING YOU IN A WOMEN’S WASHROOM. I expect that most of you are, as most other people are, very nice people who wouldn’t want to hurt anyone.
If you’re a man transitioning to a woman:
- While I recognize you’ve likely dealt with your own kind of bullying at various levels – which is always wrong – please remember that you’ve never actually been a woman. As girls, we’re taught to be careful, to watch out for who is walking behind us when we’re alone on a sidewalk or a street, to be aware of our surroundings in public, especially in public washrooms (to check that no one is hiding if it’s empty when we enter), and to make direct eye contact with strangers who might be intimidating to appear strong and avoid giving an impression of vulnerability. With current laws and the risk of being accused and charged with some version of discrimination or a hate crime, we’re now being silenced. If we make eye contact with a male looking person in the washroom, we’re “staring”. If he/she looks more like a man than a woman and we take a second look, or even ask security for help because we’re uncomfortable with their behaviour – as in the case described in the blog I have linked to – we’re profiling and discriminating based on appearance. We no longer feel able to reasonably protect ourselves from possible danger because anyone can say that they “feel” like a woman and enter a space where private womanly things are happening.
- Have you considered that once you have fully transitioned to a woman, you will also be in the same position we are now in as far as safety? With your background and life experiences, you might not feel the same discomfort at having men walking freely into a washroom where you are taking care of private business, but you will be every bit as much at risk of danger as the rest of us once you look like a woman. Perhaps, think of the reasons you’re not comfortable using the men’s washroom! And because of laws and the risk of being accused and charged with discrimination or some hate crime, the silence we feel forced into will mean that we can’t protect you either, if you are among us and a suspicious man walks in. You might know many feelings and experiences that we do not know, but you don’t know what it’s like to be a woman and feel threatened by a potentially dangerous man. Never mind what it’s like for a young girl to feel that way. I just ask that you consider it, even just for a moment, because this isn’t just about your rights. It’s about real life danger and how it affects all of us, even you.
When people say there should be no complaints about giving rights to various groups because it has nothing to do with our own rights, that it won’t take them away, please consider that it does change things. Our freedom to express our valid concerns in situations like the one described in the blog post I’ve mentioned is being squashed because we know that anything we say will be turned into some kind of discrimination or hate speech as determined by the laws that have been put in place to give you certain rights. I’m not saying you don’t have a right to use the women’s washroom. I’m saying it’s a lie to tell me that your having that freedom doesn’t in any way change my own. Because it does. It has. And that’s what we’re afraid of, not you.