Bathrooms and Prejudice

This piece is going to be relatively short. I am tired of the trope that trans women are harassing or a potential danger to cis women in washrooms, locker rooms, and other semi-private spaces. This piece on TransAdvocate by Zinnia Jones goes into wonderful detail about how the idea of trans women being a threat to cis women is an entirely imaginary harm. I want to slightly expand on her example, and make it more broad, encompassing how some cis women believe trans women are inherently a threat to them.

Chrissy Lee Polis was beaten to the point of having a seizure at a McDonald’s in Maryland. Her assailants were cis women. Polis’s crime? Trying to use the bathroom.

This teen girl was videotaped being beaten by a group of cis women at her school. Her crime? Being trans*.

Then there is the young girl who is currently being singled out by the Pacific Justice Institute. She has been pushed to the brink of suicide due to the lies being pushed by the organization. In fact, PJI went as far as to manufacture complaints about her harassing cis women in the locker room, which has been proven to be untrue.

These are just a few examples. However, I know the argument of “they should just use the men’s room instead” if cis women are under such a threat. Well… Let’s talk about that, shall we?

The men’s room is clearly safe for transgender people, right? I mean, in 2010 a trans student wasn’t assaulted in the men’s room and the word it carved into his chest. Clearly that would never happen since the men’s room is clearly where women should go anyway, right?

I’m just going to list this year’s Transgender Day of Remember list. This list contains trans* people that have been murdered for simply being trans*. It is not a complete list. There are many murders which do not go listed due to the nature the body was found, or maybe the person was living in the closet. It’s a list that can be infinitely bigger, sadly I do not think I need to go much further into detail about how the idea that trans women can simply just use the men’s room without issue is problematic to the point of being deadly.

So where does this leave trans* people? Well, according this study by the Williams Institute, 70% of trans* people who participated in the survey experienced some form of issue (be it harassment, denial of service, assault, etc) when attempting to use the bathroom. 70% of trans* people. That means almost THREE out of every FOUR trans* people will have some form of issue using the bathroom.

“Fifty-four percent of respondents reported having some sort of physical problem from trying to avoid using public bathrooms, all of whom reported that they “held it” to avoid public restrooms.” Over half of the trans* people in the survey experienced MEDICAL ISSUES due to not being able to access bathrooms. Unsurprisingly, people of color were more likely to experience verbal and physical violence when trying to access the bathrooms. While trans men and non-binary people who are FAAB seem to be more likely to experience being verbally assaulted, yelled at, and so on, trans women were almost three times more likely to be physically assaulted (14% compared to 5% for trans men) and 5% more likely to be assaulted than non-binary FAAB people (14% compared to 9%).

The study does not state which bathrooms these trans* people were trying to enter. However, does it really matter? Either way, trans* people are at danger for simply wanting to use the bathroom like everyone else. Trans* people experience verbal, physical, and potentially sexual violence for existing, let alone trying to use the restroom of their identified gender. This is a damned if you do and damned if you don’t situation.

So, how about instead of spreading lies about how trans* people are the ones who are scared here, why not look at the facts? Stop projecting your intolerance onto and entire world of people, most of whom would have no idea that the person peeing beside them is trans*. The issue lies with you, not with the trans* people who are struggling to exist in a world that tells them they are not worthy of living. Struggling to live in a world that tells them they are violent for simply wanting to go to the bathroom. Stop projecting your fears and insecurities on people who are more likely more afraid than you are. Look at the world through our eyes, where every door is the potential for a new interaction marred by fear because people simply do not like the fact you exist.


Author: Lucian Clark

Lucian Clark was born and raised in South New Jersey. Recently they published their first novel, a dark romance, titled Cemetery Drive. Their works have been featured across numerous platforms such as The Advocate and in anthologies like Werewolves Versus and Postcards From The Void. They've also been featured on several podcasts to talk about horror, activism, and their writing. With a passion for all things spooky, horrific, and queer, Lucian can often be found on social media talking about werewolves, rats, and My Chemical Romance. When not actively writing or reading, Lucian is also the curator of the queer horror website, GenderTerror, which features original art, stories, interview and more. They can also be found playing video games or with their pets (currently some rats and a cat). They are active in local and national social activism with a focus on LGBTQ+ rights and reproductive justice.

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