No, no, no, don’t worry, this is not going to be that kind of a post…
A funny thing happened at work today. A male member of staff was in the men’s toilet and had just finished at the urinal when he heard the toilet flush in the cubicle. As he was washing his hands a woman walked out of the cubicle. There was a moment’s confusion when she realised she had gone into the ‘wrong’ facility in error.
She apologised, he said ‘not to worry it happens’ and all was well.
This prompted me to think about this situation. Given the paranoia regarding transgender people and toilet use in the USA and the general mood of many societies I wondered how this would have played out if the situation was slightly different. I am quite sure that if the roles had been reversed and a man had been using the women’s toilets, people would have been far less accommodating and his motives would have been scrutinised. Was he really in there by mistake? Was he trying to spy on the women? How could he make such an elementary mistake? And so on.
I can only wonder how a transwoman would have been received in either facility. The truth is I have no idea how that would have been received. I suspect that the vast majority would have accepted it either way.
In any event I was amused at the double standard that seems to be at play. A woman finding herself in the men’s toilet in error is a bit of a joke. A man in the women’s toilet would need to prove his innocence. Of course I may be wrong about this and it may just be me projecting my own fears onto the situation but I really do think my thoughts are broadly in the right place here.
How do we change this? Personally I am all in favour of gender neutral facilities. I am in favour of these for adults and children as I think children are in as much danger from potential threats of their own gender/sex as they are in danger from those of the ‘opposite’ gender/sex. There are certainly instances of men abducting and abusing boys and women abducting and abusing or facilitating the abuse of girls. Being of the same sex and or gender is certainly no defense. If anything having segregated facilities merely gives people (parents) a false sense of security. What do you think?