Day 27 – Protect Bathroom Rights
One of the most basic ways human beings take care of each other is to ensure people can meet their essential human needs when and where they come up. One of these needs is having access to public restrooms. Unfortunately, these all-too-often-taken-for-granted facilities cannot be taken for granted by transgender people, especially those who are in transition or are visibly non-gender-conforming or gender non-binary. For us, public bathrooms are anxiety-producing at best and terrorizing at worse: in which (binary) restroom – men’s or women’s – am I less likely to be given the side-eye, questioned, or even confronted? Many transgender people have been assaulted by people who believed they didn’t belong in the restroom they were in.
These individual situations are now, in some places, being legislated into public policy fiascos. Houston, for example, recently voted down comprehensive protections for 15 demographic categories of people because of their unfounded and inaccurate fear of “men in dresses” entering women’s restrooms to assault women and children. The state of Wisconsin is currently considering legislation that would deny transgender students from using the bathroom and locker room that matches their identity and appearance. These sorts of laws can lead transgender adults and youth to isolate themselves at home (increasing their risk for depression and anxiety), limit their liquids (increasing their risk for dehydration and other physical problems), and retain their bodily waste for hours (increasing their risk of urinary tract infections and other issues).
Here are some actions you can take:
- If your employer, health care provider, favorite restaurant or store, etc. has single-stall bathrooms, encourage management to change the signage to gender neutral or all gender. Not only does this eliminate the need for transgender people to choose a binary-based bathroom, but it provides better access for everyone who may otherwise stand outside a locked door until “their” bathroom frees up.
- Be a bathroom buddy. Offer to pair up and head to the bathroom with a trans or gender non-binary person who may be uncomfortable or have had negative bathroom experiences. Generally, less harm and discrimination will happen when people are in pairs or groups.
- Consider posting a sign in public restrooms that educates other users about gender non-conforming people. An example is shown above.
- Increasingly, federal agencies are determining that existing laws protect transgender restroom users. Know about and be prepared to pass along to appropriate people documents such as these:
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration Best Practices Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3795.pdf
- Title IX has been determined to protect transgender students’ access to bathrooms and locker rooms; you can learn more here: http://www.transequality.org/blog/dept-of-justice-title-ix-protects-restroom-access-for-trans-students
- Many people who oppose transgender people’s right to access bathrooms have very faulty ideas of what transgender people look like. If you know someone like this, consider pointing them to this collection of pictures of transgender people in the wrong bathrooms to help correct their inaccurate projections: http://www.advocate.com/politics/transgender/2015/03/14/trans-folks-respond-bathroom-bills-wejustneedtopee-selfies
- Pass along the facts. Here’s FORGE’s bathroom talking points: http://forge-forward.org/wp-content/docs/bathroom-talking-points-anti-violence-FAQ-11-2015.pdf
- Learn even more. It’s now more than a decade old, but the Transgender Law Center’s “Peeing in Peace: A Resource Guide for Transgender Activists and Allies” still has much of value. Check it out at http://translaw.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/94930982-PIP-Resource-Guide.pdf
#30daysofaction #TDOR #Trans http://forge-forward.org/anti-violence/30-days-of-action/