Toilet door sign
Debra Torrance Feminism Human Rights Scotland


There’s still a bit of a stooshie going on, trans rights has become the hot topic for many folk to have huge big flaming Twitter spats and lengthy rage threads. I’m just gonna add to that. I’m not trans, but I am a woman, female, cis woman, biofem, menstruator whatever label you like to plaster on me.

There in lies the problem, labels. I definitely don’t like biofem, that sounds like a sanitary product, and talking of which, menstruator? GTAF. But I have other labels you can use, Gay, Disabled, ginger tinged. You see, trans folk and disabled folk share a problem. Toilets.

I feel least safe when I use a public disabled restroom. This is through personal experience of being in John Lewis and a staff member opening the door for a Dad with child to use the changing facilities. I was mid wipe, the door was locked, it was unexpected. And as the man, woman and baby stood in the doorway, and the entire shop floor seemed to pause and turn round to look at me, I could only mutter “I need a minute please.”

And I want to echo that just now. In the great trans rights war of minds, can we, as women and men and non-gender together just take a minute. Stop.

I read the other day a big long thread about how elected representatives were ignoring the voices of women, even though some of them were in fact women, *side eye emoji*, and then a straight man lambasting the cotton ceiling, like he was an authority on the subject. Furthermore, I actually read the words (and can’t believe I’m gonna retype them), “non trans predatory males abusing self ID”, and that’s when I decided to write this article for Ungagged.

I’ve covered trans issues before for Ungagged, I spoke to my radical feminist friend and my trans friend. I got both their perspectives on stuff and you can read it here.  This isn’t gonna cover those issues again, this is just a short comparison.

A big problem seems to be with the potential of men abusing gender recognition services to access vulnerable women in women only spaces, and because of such concerns, trans women and feminist women are bashing heads together in an never ending winter of words. Hau’d the bus…

Disabled toilets are accessed by a radar key scheme, of which disabled people can buy online, you go to the website, fill in the form, and SELF IDENTIFY as disabled. We know many folk abuse disabled facilities, car parking and toilets. (Although not everybody you may think is abusing a disabled toilet or parking badge is actually abusing anything, invisible disabilities exist.) Nobody is calling for that service to be stopped for disabled people.

Ahhh but Debra, it’s not the same I hear you angrily tweet me already. It really kinda is. I’m at my most vulnerable out of my wheelchair or mid transfer onto the pan. At any time a staff member or someone else with a radar key can just open the door. This is partially to do with the emergency chord and being able to come help a fallen cripple. There isn’t a cubicle in the disabled loo, there’s sometimes high chairs, maybe a cloak room, I’ve even been in a disabled toilet with a washing machine and dryer (for the restaurant’s cloth napkins *vom emoji*) and always a baby changing table. Oh and they are all gender neutral.

I’ve witnessed calls for resignation of disabled, elected representatives and trans journalists over some of this stuff. Twitter pile ons with hateful intolerance. Members resigning en-masse (like maybe a couple dozen) from political parties and I’ve seen casual slurs and adamant inaccurate statements. I’ve seen scientists belittle all of humankind to x’s and y’s and I’ve seen twitter amateur physicians proclaim gynaecologist statistics. It’s all a bit obscene. Talking of rapists and abusers, shouting at non binary folk, judging people, suddenly passionately caring for the welfare of female prison population and demanding proof of gender while decrying facilities to access desired proof. Name calling, out dated language, just general unkindness.

Disabled people used to be called different names, like my trans brothers and sisters, those names are hurtful. But as a society, we have realised those words aren’t kind and we don’t find them acceptable anymore. Now you can be a pedant and argue that my muscle spasticity and spinal chord retardation warrants the use of these words, and you wouldn’t be wrong, but if you call me that to my face please be prepared to feel my wheelchair foot plate on your achilles or shin bone. Unless of course you happen to call me it as you rudely open the disabled toilet door, in which case I’ll prob just meekly say “oh sorry, am I taking too long?”

So here is my summary, if you can comprehend how arguing for disabled rights doesn’t stop some people nefariously abusing the systems put in place to make disabled people’s lives easier and more accessible, then please consider that making it easier for trans people to get official documentation to match their gender they live every day won’t impinge your ability to access services to fit your needs and stopping the Gender Recognition Act and self identification won’t stop rapists being rapists. That’s it, that’s my #hottranstake

by Debra Torrance

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