Telegraph and Toilets

Today the Telegraph website has an article about gender-neutral toilets. In general it is pretty good. However, I’m quoted in it, and it makes me out to say something I very much do not agree with.

Update: following discussions with Radhika the post has been updated to much better reflect my views.

The basic issue here is whether trans people should be required to use a gender-neutral toilet. Cis people often get hold of the wrong end of the stick and think that there are three genders: male, female and trans. So they think that the solution to the toilet issue is to create a gender-neutral loo that all trans people are required to use.

The trouble is that there are some trans people who would very much prefer the option of a gender-neutral toilet. That includes those currently in transition who are uncomfortable about which loo to use but may change their minds later, and those who are non-binary and will always want something non-gendered. But there are also trans people who fully identify with one or other of the poles of the gender spectrum and will strongly resent it if anyone tries to make them use a gender-neutral loo.

The point I was trying to get across is that there is no single solution (though a long term trend towards less gendering of everything would be good). I absolutely respect the right of people who want a gender-neutral loo to have one. I just don’t want that to be a requirement for all trans folk.

Of course it is hard to get concepts like this across. I talked to Radhika mainly on Twitter and in a phone call while I was on the train to London on Thursday. Misunderstandings can arise, and she will have been working on a bunch of other pieces between then and this going live. It happens.

If you happen to see anyone on social media calling me out for supposedly being down on non-binary people, please point them this way.

And also, next time you see some trans activist quoted as saying something terrible in the media, ask yourself whether they actually said what they are supposed to have said, or whether it might be a misunderstanding, or a deliberate misquote to create controversy.

4 thoughts on “Telegraph and Toilets

  1. The second floor restrooms at GaymerX 3 were labelled “All Gender” as opposed to “Gender Neutral”. Everybody was using them.
    There was also a sign directing folks to the 1st or 3rd floor if they wanted more traditionally gendered facilities.

    1. And I finally had an opportunity to go read the article, and the photo with the headline has a sign that says “All Gender,” so now I feel like a dork.

      The feeling around the relabelled restrooms at GX3 (as it appeared to me, anyway), did seem to be “anybody can use these” as opposed to “here is the special labelled loo for me” which I think close to what we hope for, yes? So the act of using a restroom doesn’t read as a statement of gender identity at all, but simply as the much simpler “I need to use the loo”?

      1. That is very much what I’d like to see, but I also recognize that there are many women who won’t feel safe in anything less than a women-only space. It’s complicated, as the saying goes.

  2. In America men tend to trash public restrooms. The worst is the inability to aim, which means I have spent time using toilet paper to clean seats, floors — the latter with a cane or my good foot — before I can sit.

    Mothers would have to retrain their sons in many things before All Gender, usually labeled Unisex in America, becomes the norm.

    Dr. Phil

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