Safe bathroom access is not a luxury or a special right. I know who I am. Assume I belong!
Without safe access to public bathrooms, trans & genderqueer people and people who don’t fit gender stereotypes are denied full participation in public life. For many, finding a safe place to use the bathroom is a daily struggle. Trans & genderqueer people and people who don’t fit gender stereotypes report being harassed, beaten and questioned by authorities while trying to use the bathroom; many avoid using public washrooms altogether, leading some to develop health problems. Making public washrooms safe for trans & genderqueer people and people who don’t fit gender stereotypes is not a separate problem from making washrooms safe and dignified for all people.
People who are racially profiled, living in poverty, living with disabilities and/or who are parents also face discrimination when trying to access public washrooms. For example, parents whose kids have a different gender from them are prevented from being in gendered washrooms with their kids, which is a a serious safety concern. As well, people with disabilities who are supported by attendants with a different gender are also prevented from accessing public washrooms (if the washroom is even a physically accessible space to begin with). Discrimination comes in many forms and it is not always easy to know why someone is asking you questions or telling you to leave a bathroom. In the end, it really doesn’t matter. Everyone should be able to use a safe public bathroom so that they can pee in peace!
Does changing the way we think about bathrooms compromise women’s and children’s safety? At the root of this question is whether a sign on the door will make people safe. Are ALL women safe in the women’s washroom because of the sign on the door? What about ALL men in the men’s washroom? Are children safe if they have to go into the washroom alone because they’re with a parent of a different gender? If we want to make safety a priority for all people, stall doors can be lowered to the floor, locks can be made more secure, more universal-access single-stall washrooms could be created and multi-stall washrooms could be designed to be accessible to a range of people.
It bears repeating: Making public washrooms safe for trans & genderqueer people and people who don’t fit gender stereotypes is not a separate problem from making washrooms safe and dignified for all people.
We stand in solidarity with all those who experience barriers to accessing public washrooms – together, we can push for solutions that meet the needs of our community as a whole.
Join us in our campaign to be……Free to Pee @ GBC!
Free to Pee @ GBC is an initiative led by an informal committee made up of concerned and affected staff and students at George Brown College. The committee was formed in the Fall of 2012 to address safe washroom access for trans & genderqueer people, and people who don’t fit gender stereotypes.
Our main goals are:
- To develop college-wide policy ensuring the right of all staff and students to access gendered washrooms based on their self-stated gender identity;
- To establish universal access washrooms across the campus; and
- To create a culture of respect and solidarity at GBC for the rights of trans and genderqueer people and people who don’t fit gender stereotypes, particularly in regard to accessing washrooms with safety and dignity.
Committee members include:
- Alex Irwin, Director of Immigrant Education and School of ESL
- Ambrose Kirby, Faculty, Transitioning to Post-Secondary Education (TPE)
- Jules Lewis, Coordinator/Faculty, Centre for Construction & Engineering
- Marilyn McLean, Faculty, Centre for Preparatory and Liberal Studies
- Matt Foran, Program Manager, Academic Upgrading Program
- Michelle Pettis, Community Action Centre Coordinator, Student Association
- Shae Byer, Program Assistant, Academic Upgrading
- Vivek Shraya, Positive Space Coordinator/Human Rights Advisor
- Heidi Mehta, Positive Space Coordinator/Human Rights Advisor – 2015/2016
- JP Hornick, Coordinator, School of Labour
(Credit goes to the Transgender Law Centre’s “Peeing in Peace” resource guide for their clear breakdown of the issues – thanks for your words!)