|megpie71 (megpie71) wrote,|
@ 2016-02-17 14:04:00
The Daftness of the "Toilet" Argument
The "toilet" argument is the one which says "of course trans* and gender-queer people shouldn't be allowed to use the lavatories appropriate to their preferred gender presentation" because somehow women will get their modesty affronted by having a person with a penis in the ladies room. I always get stunned by this argument, mostly because it shows a degree of wilful blindness to some necessary differences between masculine and feminine public hygiene set-ups which really needs to be addressed.
So, for the benefit of all those guys who haven't been in the ladies' lavs since they were tiny tackers escorted there by their mums, here is a description of the average set-up of every single women's public toilet block I've ever been in for as long as I can remember:
A row of stalls, each with their own door. Each stall contains one toilet, a dispenser for toilet paper (for wiping afterwards) and a disposal caddy for what's euphemised as "sanitary products". In some areas there's also a "sharps" container - usually in ones where there's a likelihood (or past experience) of drug addicts using the stalls to shoot up. In primary school settings, the pedestal is likely to be shorter, and there may not be the sanitary products disposal caddy.
The stall walls tend to extend down to the floor, or if there is a gap between the wall and the floor, it's about 10cm (4") high at most. Same with any gap between the door and the floor. If you bend down to look through the gap, the most you're going to see is shoes, and maybe a bag.
The doors have locks on them - often the type which indicate whether or not the stall is available to open through either a colour indicator or a "Vacant/Occupied" indicator. Some of these are even accurate! These days, the doors in newer facilities tend to be weighted so they'll open (inward) unless they're actively locked. Quite often there's a hook on the back of the door you can hang a handbag on (to prevent people reaching in under the walls or door and pinching it) - this hook can also handle things like umbrellas, shopping bags and so on. The doors are opaque, and generally dark-coloured, never transparent or translucent. Superman could possibly see through them. The vast majority of normal humans, however, aren't able to.
The walls, similarly, are usually of an opaque material, generally one which is designed to shed graffiti and save the maintainers the joy of dealing with getting rid of it. (This can be a pity, since, depending on the location, there's the potential for ladies lav graffiti to turn into a massive crowd-sourced combination of consciousness-raising/rough-and-ready therapy/agony aunt discussion, and be well worth the reading!). Ceramic tiles are popular, so is dark-coloured melamine these days. (That people who want to leave graffiti manage to do so despite all of this is just a tribute to human ingenuity).
There are generally hand-basins (at least one; generally one per two cubicles) along one wall, with a mirror over. There may even be a counter or shelf where you can put your bag while you wash your hands, touch up your make-up or whatever. Hand drying facilities these days are usually air blowers (which make an ungodly racket in the small, tiled space) although in older facilities you'll find things like paper towel dispensers (with or without bin for the used paper towels), those rotating towels in a drum (which may even be working) or nothing whatsoever (shake your hands as best you can and wipe them on your skirt/jeans/hankie, while making a note to avoid this particular facility in future).
In bigger or more frequented lavatories, there's usually a dispensing machine on the wall for sanitary napkins and tampons.
In many cases, there are baby change facilities, although whether there's enough room to use said facilities and manoeuvre a stroller alongside them is a different question entirely.
The other important factor involved here: women, when faced with a traditional Western toileting arrangement, traditionally sit to pee, so the bits we're supposed to keep modestly concealed are generally facing toward the inside of the toilet while they're in use for excretory purposes.
Really, unless the pedestal breaks (fairly rare), or you have a medical emergency (not quite as rare, but still largely unlikely), once you've gone into a stall in the ladies' lav and closed the door behind you nobody is going to be able to see your genitalia, and neither are you able to view anyone else's. In order for anyone to be startled by a bloke in a skirt visiting the average ladies' lav, he'd have to be either eight foot tall (and thus able to peep over the top of the stalls - and see... the top of someone's head, their knees, their feet and maybe a pair of knickers, ooh-er missus!), or hung like a garden hose.
(Oh, and one other important factor about the ladies' lav no matter where it is: there's never enough stalls at peak periods).
So, to be honest, I absolutely fail to see how anyone's modesty is going to be affronted by someone who is trans-female, or female-identifying-today gender-queer, getting into the queue to use the stalls in the ladies. No matter what their (or your) individual plumbing hook-up appears to be, nobody else is going to be able to see it in use, or be offended by its presence.
I mean, on the other hand, if the people who are worried about the prospect of trans* or gender-queer people using the appropriate lavatories for their identifying gender are men worrying a trans-man or a male-identifying-today gender-queer person is going to go into the gentlemen's lavs and snigger at the willies on display at the urinals... well, just say so, guys. (And maybe use the stalls to pee). But please, don't push the whole mess over onto the women and feminine modesty.
(Oh, and if anyone who is trans-negative and female-identifying wants to explain to me either: a) exactly why and how their modesty is/would be affronted by a trans* or gender-queer person using the ladies' lavs at the same time as them; or b) how they'd know if a person in one of the other stalls was a trans* or gender-queer person; or even c) why they can't just deal with their problem by waiting for the trans* or gender-queer person to finish their business and leave; then feel free to do so in the comments.)
This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/63990.htm