Bathroom Access and Safety

program date: 
Mon, 04/20/2009

While there are few things more primal than the need to use the bathroom many trans and gender variant individuals find that answering natures call is needlessly complicated and often downright dangerous. Few gendered spaces are as vehemently patrolled and the penality for violating gender norms can range from ejection to arrest to bodily harm. Bathroom acess isn't just a trans issue, as many single parents discover when faced with signs baring them from from accompanying non-same-sex children into public restrooms or dressing rooms.

Co-hosts Rebecca Nay and Jacob Anderson-Minshall Tuesday talked about these issues and the growing demand for single stall or gender nuetral restrooms that are safe for families and individuals of of all genders.
They were joined in studio by Stephenie Jahnke, co-chair of Portland State University's Sex and Gender Equality (SAGE) who will be talking about the organization and PSU's gender neutral bathroom policy.

Also adding to the conversation by phone:

Sean Bro:  Experienced a bathroom discrimination incident in Seattle and shared his story.

Shani Heckman, filmmaker behind Wrong Bathroom, a documentary which positions bathroom access as a civil rights issue. She contends, "Public restrooms historically have been a place of discrimination and harassment. From the segregated bathrooms of the South to the fight for women's restrooms in the workplace, access to public restrooms has long been a civil rights issue."

Dru Levasseur, a lawyer from Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, the organization that won a groundbreaking settlement against the Calente Cab Restaurant in New York, which kicked out an African American woman for using the women's restroom. She was not transgender, but identified as a lesbian and had just come with her friends from a Gay Pride celebration. She even showed her ID to the bouncer and that wasn't enough!


bathroom access for handycapped with diff gender assistiant

although i am a transgendered but non transitioning person (MtF) i helped my dad take care of my mom who used a travel chair to get around for the last several years of her life. for the most part it was just (with the acceptation of an occasional same gen aid) my dad or me as my male self taking her to the restroom. first, in the older restaurants there was the issue of getting through the restroom door even if she switched to walker the doorways weren't always wide enough. then there was the having to flag down a waitress to go in first and scope out if the restroom was clear and then stand guard outside to warn the generic woman that a non woman was helping a handicapped woman inside.

i remember one time that a woman with a cane said she didn't care that we were in there and then went and complained to the restaurant manager anyway. lucky he knew what was going on and also knew us. we just thought it was sort of ironic that someone who had similar needs was the one to complain!

another time we had a problem getting into a government authorized (for professional license renewal) fingerprinting facility as the handicapped door was locked and to add insult to injury the worker inside wanted to rush us out after 5 min due to a delay in using a non handicapped accessible print reading machine (the table and equipment was to high above a wheel chair) needless to say i had them phone the supervisor who was also in a rush until i suggested we continue the conversation about the lack of handy capped accessibility later which slowed him right down. and before i left the parking lot in the snow i had called the head of the licensing board for my mom's professional org. as well as the head of the local corp office for what turned out to be a out of country company doing our background checks in a gov mandated prof. license renewal requirement!

in helping to take care of my mom i learned to scope out all the places ahead of time to see if they were going to be accessible for her ESPECIALLY the restroom situation!
and although some local malls have uni gender-family restrooms we have found them locked and inaccessible at times. i never appreciated the separate uni gender facility until helping my mom. luckily in this state the anti trans discrimination laws went into effect a year ago in june for all public buildings. and as you mentioned on the show that these days the gyms are facing this issue for single dads with 5 year old daughters so many places are installing the single unit family shower/change areas.

you were right in stating we need a uniform nationwide law on the issue because not all states protect legally the transgendered at this time. nor all in the same manor.

we have come along way but still have a ways to go.
thank you for covering this topic.


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