Bathrooms, again? Still?

I want to write a few words about this post, from TransGriot, about a trans woman who was thrown out of Casino Rama, not two hours from where I sit, right here in theoretically-progressive Canada.

Y'know...I transitioned nearly seventeen years ago.

I mention this, not to assert any "I've been at this a long time" privilege, but rather to frame what I'm about to say in terms of how big a problem it is. I guess what gets me about it is that, here we are in 2009 - approaching twenty years after I immigrated to women's country - and we're still yammering and flailing about bathrooms.

I don't get it. I really don't. I do understand that there are women for whom the presence in the bathroom of a man would be seriously problematic, and quite possibly triggering. I do. I'm even one of them (a woman who could be triggered by this).

But there wasn't a man in there. There was a trans woman.

Her purpose in being there wasn't to harm anyone. It was to eliminate waste, a function which even the most privileged among us have to do occasionally (though some seem uptight enough that I wonder how long it's been since they pulled the cork). Maybe she even felt like checking her makeup, if she was wearing it. Or she wanted to fix her clothing. Or wash her face or hands. Who fucking knows? Who fucking cares?

But beyond that, the bit that really bugs me: the idiotic idea that a WOMEN sign on the door acts as a magical rapist repellent. Here's a newsflash: despite what the bathroom bigots' careful research (involving, no doubt, several seasons of Law & Order: SVU) may tell them, the vast majority of rapes do not occur in public committed by strangers. And of that tiny minority which do, the number which occur in the manner, "he wore a dress so he could get into the women's bathroom unseen" has to be among the smallest*. The very idea that a rapist would fake a trans woman's identity in order to move around more comfortably just shows the depth of ignorance being displayed here: there are few identities a rapist could assume that would be more likely to draw attention to themselves.

Cause if you think "passing"** is that easy, you obviously have never tried it.

Remember: she wasn't bothering anyone. She hadn't approached anyone. She was just sitting on the toilet, like six billion other fucking humans on this dirtball every freaking day, and was hustled out of the casino by five guards for having the nerve to need to pee. The guard didn't know her surgical status: in Ontario, one does not require surgery to change gender markers on ID, so as far as the guard might have known, she may have kicked someone out who had the same damned equipment as she did. And in the end, what fucking difference does it make? I mean, really? It's a women's bathroom. It's not like she's walking up to a urinal and lifting her skirt, y'know? What right of someone's is she violating? Is it her simple existence which is the violation? That an icky tranny freak will be peeing too close to some cisprivileged bigot?

If it is to be Casino Rama's corporate policy that trans folk will be required to use only the unisex bathrooms, then they'd better make that policy a lot more public. That way the bigots will know where to spend their money, and people with any empathy will know where they shouldn't spend theirs.

I want to also acknowledge/draw attention to something slightly problematic in the post I've linked to. This made me wince (emphasis mine):
The casino is not only owned by First Nations peeps, it sits on reserve land. You would think the last place a transperson would face such disrespect is in a First Nations owned casino due to the concept of two spirit people that is part of First nations culture.
I see this as problematic in two ways. One, it suggests that First Nations culture is monolithic. This is no more true than it is to say "European culture has the concept of the siesta".

Second, it's related to the fallacy that oppressed people can't/don't oppress. I don't think I need to explain the logicfail there. It's a good article, but this section did give me a wince moment. I do believe that TransGriot is a progressive place, and that this was unintentional, but All In means, to me, that I don't just fight for the progress that is relevant to me, so I felt it important to speak up.

If you feel like making a comment to Casino Rama itself, you can find their contact information here.

In the end, I'm quite confident that the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal will see justice done. They've done a pretty good job on protecting trans people's rights so far, and this one seems pretty clear cut.

But it's still revolting to me that we're having this stupid, stupid argument still.

* Quoting our blogmistress on the topic (many times, in many places):

"Women are about three times more likely to be raped by someone they know than a stranger, and nine times more likely to be raped in their homes, the home of someone they know, or anywhere else than being raped on the street."

** "Passing" is a deeply problematic concept in trans identity, which I'll only touch on briefly here. It has to do with judgement of people's performance of gender, conformity to societal strictures, privilege of wealth and youth, and a good dozen other deep and important trans-related issues. Suffice it to say: it ain't easy.

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