Going to toilets in the plane can become an issue for queer and trans people too. We all know how tiny and tight it is, but the fact that the toilets are always gendered and how people lack understanding makes things worse. When both toilets are occupied in a section, people have to walk all the way up, or down, in hopes that they can find a vacant space. An acquaintance told me they had to walk up to the first class cabin to search for a vacant toilet. People looked at them as though it was a weird sight to see.
If only queer and trans people be treated like any other normal human being. It’s impolite to stare!
Navigating the gendered world as an individual who does not conform to gender norms and ideals.
Many of us fail to recognise that the world and its spaces around us are often heavily gendered. Public areas are partitioned into male and female, including everyday spaces such as the washrooms and shopping departments. In a world where gender is highly salient and clearly demarcated, transgender people remain burdened and subjected to the public eye.
The comic above is inspired by Ariel*’s personal experience, where she faces the tormenting gaze imposed by the judgmental eye of the public simply because she is a transwoman. The piercing stares, the questioning looks, and the disapproving expressions all prove to be highly distressing. “The attention will be all on me, and the whole time I will feel very uncomfortable,” Ariel said.
Like Ariel, many gender non-conforming individuals share the same sentiments and desire: to search…
Brittany from the UNSW Queer Collective writes about her personal experience of going to the female toilets at the Royal Easter Show.
When I was 14, I had really short hair. I was using the bathroom at the Royal Easter Show that was really crowded, and a little kid yelled out, “Mum! mum! There’s a boy in the girls bathroom!”, pointing at me. It made me feel bad to be accused of not belonging there and that I was infiltrating other peoples spaces, and that this little kid was taught to associate my hair length with my gender.
Transgender woman, Tennessee resident and social media expert Jenny Taylor wrote about her experience of going to the toilet in a blog post titled A Woman Who Used The Men’s Room To Avoid Me. As seen in the title, a woman used the men’s toilet just to avoid her. Perhaps having unisex toilets with fully covered cubicles would have been a possible solution to Jenny’s problem. With unisex toilets, those who are questioning their gender identity and experimenting with their status as a transgender person would be able to enter without making other people feel uncomfortable. Have a read of her story and tell us what you think about it.
There was a time when I desperately needed to go to a toilet, but was on public transport. So, I couldn’t just get the bus drive to drive me to the nearest toilet. I had to hold it in for about 15 minutes, which was a horribly uncomfortable experience. The nearest public toilet I found had a broken automatic door, so it opened itself right after I pulled my pants down. I pulled it up quickly before things got awkward between me and the pedestrian passing by. The hotel with toilets in it was about 2 minutes away, but I had been holding it for about 20 minutes, so it seemed like a painfully long walk to me. Fortunately, I got in and did my business before things got more embarrassing.
Perhaps you might think what I just said was good news, but this would be a different story if I didn’t look like a female, or if I wasn’t deemed socially qualified to walk into a female toilet. The toilets in the hotel I went into were gendered.
However, one small step is the beginning to great change. Hopefully, educational institutions will be the leaders of change in the City of Sydney; hopefully, it will become mandatory for all buildings to have both male, female and unisex toilets like self-cleaning toilets. The needs of queer individuals must be met.
I began to hate the signs I saw on the toilet doors. After so many unpleasant experiences of being stared at, there was no longer a toilet where I could go in and come out comfortably. No matter which toilet I entered, I would be taking a risk. Even when my hair started to grow out and I started to look like a female again, I knew I would remember the things I experienced when I went to the toilets as a male. However, I knew that if I had shaved my hair before, I would feel like doing it again at any moment. For the next two to three years, I constantly had thoughts about getting my hair shaved and come out as queer again, but all my previous experiences of going to the toilets made me hold back.
Things changed for the better when visited the UNSW Queer Collective for the first time in three years of my university life. I met a diverse range of people with different gender identities, all fearlessly expressing themselves wherever they went. I was inspired by their bravery. I also found out that a lot of gender-queer people would go to disabled toilets. So, I had the courage to shave my hair again.I decided to go to toilets for the disabled.
Sure, there would be no one staring at me whenever I entered because there’s only space for one person in there, but I would often be conscious of what people would think of me if I entered the toilet. Would they think I wasn’t meant to be in there because I wasn’t disabled? I’d think so myself. Things become more troublesome when it’s occupied because I have to go searching for another toilet for the disabled that isn’t occupied.
I want a place where I can go to easily without being worried about getting kicked out. I don’t want to look at a label that does not represent who I am and feel forced to enter a place that other people think I’m not supposed to go, or be labelled as disabled when I’m not. I need unisex or gender-neutral toilets so that I will not cause any inconvenience to disabled people who actually need toilets for the disabled.