There are so many problems with this comment thread I hardly know where to begin. Why is it that virtually every discussion about trans rights and gender-neutral bathrooms so quickly devolves into ZOMG! Men in the women’s room!? (One theory: even ostensibly progressive people let their true stripes show in these conversations, in that they actually believe trans women = teh menz. Oh, and let’s continue leaving trans men out of the conversation entirely. Cool.)
As Zyfron and catspaw so eloquently put it in the Feministing thread, clusterfuck derails like this are exactly what conservative hand-wringers have in mind when they send out missives like Focus on the Family’s Won’t Somebody PLEASE Think Of The Children? email. They’re hoping that otherwise reasonable people will ignore all those other messy subjects like, oh, non-discrimination legislation, the pathologizing of gender identity, and disproportionate rates of assault and murder of trans people (and particularly trans people of color)–and instead focus on bathroom troubles.
I don’t want to play Hierarchy of Oppressions here, as there’s no single list of priorities for trans communities or activist movements. But bathroom issues certainly do seem to enjoy a disproportionate amount of mainstream attention. When’s the last time you saw a major news outlet–or even a big feminist blog, for that matter–cover an issue like unemployment rates among trans communities?
As I said in the Feministing thread, I absolutely don’t mean to minimize or dismiss the atrocity of rape, the experiences of survivors/victims, or the very real threat of assault women face in public spaces. I may not think about my own safety in quite that way as much as many other women do–I’m usually more worried about gender policing in bathrooms than I am about the threat of a male predator there, since I have so much experience with the former–but that doesn’t mean I don’t understand those fears and concerns.
That said, what is it about the possibility of a man raping a woman in a bathroom that negates the needs of trans (and otherwise gender deviant) folks to have access to safe bathrooms?
While apparently multiple occupancy gender-neutral bathrooms do exist, they’re still very much in the minority–and not at all the goal of legislation that would protect trans rights in public bathrooms. Instead, by and large these are bills seeking either single-stall gender-neutral bathrooms, or mandates that trans folks cannot be denied access to restrooms matching their gender identity.
But I guess it’s just no fun to stick to, oh, I don’t know, reality, or listen at all to what trans folks have to say about their own needs and safety. It’s apparently much more interesting to derail into speculation about what might happen to a six year old alone in a public bathroom, or to declare that trans folks who don’t pass as well should just stick to the bathroom contrary to their own gender identity–you know, so as to avoid confusion.