Tuesday, 23 Apr 2024

You will be interacting with trans people – whether you know it or not

Today, like on many other countless days over the last decade, I used the women’s bathroom while going about my day in public.

I went inside, waited in line, went into a cubicle, did my business, washed my hands, and left. 

No one looked at me twice, or ‘noticed’ that I was trans; no one caused a fuss, or demanded I use the men’s loos. Why would they?

Describing such an innocuous activity wouldn’t usually be considered a subject to write about, but sadly, discussions over which bathroom someone like me should use has become a battlefield for transphobia and anti-trans rhetoric recently.. 

Despite the fact that trans people like myself have been using public spaces for years.

So far this year, over 400 anti-trans bills have been introduced in the US – this has doubled since 2022. A portion of them are targeting trans people’s access to public bathrooms  – stating that trans people have to use bathrooms in accordance with their sex assigned at birth.

Likewise, the Equalities and Human Rights Campaign in the UK recently came under fire for suggesting potential amendments to the Equality Act to redefine ‘sex’ to mean someone’s assigned sex at birth – which could result in trans people being banned from single-sex spaces.

What these lawmakers and advocates fail to realise is that trans people use public facilities like bathrooms, locker rooms and swimming pools in line with their gender identity every single day.

Most trans people, including myself, never face any issues using these facilities and we’ve been doing it openly for many decades now. 

Trying to force me to use the men’s facilities would not only potentially be unsafe, as well as causing confusion and discomfort for everyone, but it would simply be ridiculous.

It’s also entirely unenforceable. 

Are we going to station toilet guards around that arrest people? Encourage people to report users that they think are too ‘mannish’ or ‘feminine’ for a particular bathroom? That’s only going to end with anyone who isn’t gender non-conforming, including butch lesbians and feminine men, getting harassed and targeted as well. 

How is that safe, fair or just?

People advocating for these laws simply aren’t rooted in reality, but see trans people as an ugly caricature instead of actual people trying to live their lives as themselves.

Trans people use gendered spaces with members of the public every single day without them even noticing. You’ve probably shared a space with a trans person recently without knowing it – because trans people, just like everyone else, exist in society and use public spaces. 

Strangers don’t know I’m trans unless they’re told, and the same goes for countless trans people across the UK. Thinking you can ‘always tell’ is a thoroughly dispelled myth, as many trans people can account for. 

This is all happening while the UK plunges from one of the top spots on the ILGA Europe Rainbow Map down to 17th place, showcasing that the UK is failing to deliver on its commitment to LGBTQ+ rights.

As noted in the report by ILGA Europe, the UK’s Home Office’s annual hate crime statistics have shown a 41% rise in homophobic hate crimes, and a whopping 56% rise in transphobic hate crimes in England and Wales. 

This marks the largest annual increase since 2012.

But those advocating against trans inclusion are simply too caught up making trans people some scary boogeyman that they don’t realise that trans people are just getting on with life like everyone else.

That their weird obsession and opinion of us isn’t going to change who we are. 

In my life I am fully supported by my family as a daughter, sister, aunt and niece – and I have friends, colleagues and neighbours who couldn’t care less that I’m trans. I am loved.

They just accept me as who I am, and aren’t swept up in this anti-trans political game that appears to pervade public discourse and social media.

Except, trans people are the ones that are suffering increased rates of harassment and violence in society at the hands of those who aren’t trans, and it needs to be addressed urgently. 

It seems like such a basic thing to write, but people need to stop thinking that trans people are some isolated group of people that they never meet or interact with. 

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Trans people are your family members, neighbours, colleagues, people you see at the grocery store, meet on a walk in the woods, stand behind you in queues, or sit next to on the tube.  

What all these anti-trans narratives do is they rob us of humanity, and try to position us as extreme outliers and an angry mob that’s ‘demanding’ rights. 

The reality is that trans people just want to get on with life like everyone else, and have laws that protect them from harassment and discrimination. We just want to be able to use the same spaces as everyone else without issue, and get on with our day. Including using the toilet.

Me using facilities that are best suited to who I am, or me participating in society openly and proudly isn’t a threat to anyone. It allows me to exist and participate in society alongside everyone else, and allows me to fall into the crowd and not become a target.

In the end, trans people are going to continue being who they are, and live their lives as authentically as they can – and no amount of abuse, bullying or discriminatory laws will change that. 

We deserve to be accepted and respected, and once people let go of their prejudice and preconceived ideas about trans people, they’ll learn we have so much more in common than what sets us apart.

And that we can’t build a free and just society based on exclusion and fear.

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