Gender Neutral Bathroom Challenge
The challenge: Don’t use any gendered bathrooms or change rooms for the month of April.
What are “gendered bathrooms”? Gendered bathrooms are designated for “men” or “women” by a sign. This challenges includes ALL multi-stall and single-stall washrooms, and the bathrooms at work, schools, libraries, bars/restaurants, and everywhere, really.
There are multiple purposes for this challenge:
1) To give people who don’t find going to gendered bathrooms a difficult/unsafe experience a small idea of what it is like for trans and gender variant people to navigate this world. Hopefully, with some real life experience, you will have a broader understanding of how gendered this world really is. But,
DOING THIS DOES NOT GIVE YOU AUTHORITY TO SAY WHAT IT IS LIKE TO BE TRANS OR GENDER VARIANT.2) To inspire people to fight for more gender neutral bathrooms.
- Don’t drink a lot of liquid if you are leaving the house for long periods of time
- Try to figure out where some gender neutral bathrooms are in your town/city, and plan your day around using a gender neutral bathroom.
- Remember, you can use gendered bathrooms again in May. Some people can’t.
And, even if you really have to go to the bathroom, try to not see gendered bathrooms as a possible place to go.If you are interested, feel free to write your experiences down and send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. With your permission, they will be included in a zine on the topic of gendered bathrooms.
We also recommend fighting for gender neutral bathrooms in one (or more) public space(s). Often the fight for this aspect of bathroom accessibility is only fought for by trans and gender variant people; It would be nice if other people fought for it too.
PLEASE SPREAD THIS!
This is a neat idea. I’ll certainly be giving it a stab.
I’ve added some extra emphasis (the bolded parts) where i think it needs to be.
A helpful resource for locating gender-neutral/all-gender bathrooms is Safe2Pee.org.
UGH, Urban Outfitters.
*TRIGGER WARNING - TRANSPHOBIA AND CISSEXISM*
Urban Outfitters outlets have been selling this horribly offensive card. Please reblog and contact them to complain. The general Urban Outfitters email address to complain: UrbanEuropeCS@urbanout.com Company president, Richard Hayne: email@example.com
Found something else to reblog because i don’t want that horrible image on my blog.
UO fuck off.
Seriously? Seriously, this exists?!
Is there any minority that they won’t go after? This is not how you treat women. I hope feminists are all over this. I’ll be over here holding my breath, dying.
TRIGGER WARNING for MURDER and TORTURE OF A TRANS* WOMAN.
Trans Activist Agnes Torres Murdered In Puebla
Friends and supporters gathered to mourn and pay tribute to Agnes this evening in Puebla, the state’s capital city. Earlier today, the hashtag #AgnesTorres was a trending topic on Twitter, with thousands posting messages of support for Agnes, her family, and the LGBT community.
Former colleagues of Agnes Torres are demanding a thorough investigation and calling for a special department within Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission dedicated to cases of hate crimes against lesbians, gays, and transsexuals.
¡Justicia Para Agnes Torres!
I’ll start this off by saying that, for the vast majority of people who need them (trans* or not), pap tests are no walk in the park. However, these regular exams are vital to those who have cervixes (yes, trans* men AND trans* women included)! They also can be helpful for detecting other problems with your reproductive organs. Despite the fact that pap tests are so important, a lot of trans* guys put them off or forgo them completely. There are a lot of reasons for this, including dysphoria, previous negative experience with exams, difficulty finding or trusting health care providers, and anxiety. These issues cannot always be helped, but there are a lot of little things that can be done for most people with aversions to pap tests. As someone who just went in for one today (despite a lot of anxiety), here’s some advice:
1. Find someone understanding, preferably someone who has experience with trans* patients. This is easier said than done, and not always possible. If you’re on testosterone, a good place to start is asking the person who prescribes your T if they can recommend someone or know where some of their other patients go. Your general practitioner also often can do these for you, so if you have a good relationship with your GP than this is something to consider. In my fairly limited experience, Planned Parenthoods are usually staffed by pretty friendly, understanding people who are usually good at comforting patients during this procedure. They also have the benefit of giving discounts (even 100% discounts) for those who cannot pay the full amount. Call places ahead of time and explain your situation to get a good feel for whether or not they will be empathetic and able to help you. Calling ahead of time in general is a good idea because you want to give them a chance to do a little research if they need to.
2. There are many ways to handle your possible anxiety, apprehension, and dread surrounding this procedure. If it is really intense, talk to your doctor about the possibility of taking a fast-acting anti-anxiety pill the day of your pap test. It can also really be beneficial to take a family member, partner, or friend to be with you in the waiting room (or, if you’re comfortable enough, in the exam room). Preparing by practicing relaxation techniques or by researching the procedure can also help. It’s often best not to schedule these things too far in advance, since it gives you time for your anxiety and dread to build. Just schedule it and get it over with quickly!
3. If it makes you feel more comfortable, ask if you can keep your shirt and socks on during the exam. A lot of places will allow you to do this, and it can really help make you feel less vulnerable and more in-control. Besides that, many pre-op/non-op trans* guys feel uncomfortable without their binders on or without a shirt and this can lessen the dysphoria they may feel during the exam.
4. Feel free to talk to the person doing the exam as much as you’d like! Explain your concerns beforehand, and let them know if there’s anything they can do to make you more comfortable. Talking to them throughout the procedure can also make it go by faster and keep you distracted.
5. Prepare lots of comforting stuff for after the exam. You may feel particularly dysphoric, vulnerable, or uncomfortable after the procedure, and reaching out to whatever you find most comforting can help. That may mean snuggles with your significant other/parent/friend/puppy, ice cream, playing video games in a fort made out of blankets in your living room, what have you. Doing something fun and special afterwards can also help you form a more positive association with the event. In any case, pat yourself on the back and do something to treat yourself, you deserve it!
Obviously these tips won’t work for everyone, and there is no simple or easy way to make these exams too much better. The good thing is that they are relatively painless, surprisingly quick, and few and far between.
TW: CISSEXISM and BINARISM from both right-wing and liberal media
So, it appears after Rush’s non-apology was rightfully dismissed by Sandra Fluke and Patricia Heaton came back to twitter with her own non-apology and Limbaugh’s advertisers are still continuing to drop him like flies, conservatives are going to take a different route towards discrediting Fluke. And it’s pretty fucking tasteless. Apparently it’s super controversial that Fluke co-edited an article that gasp! called for equal treatment of transgender employees and suggested that healthcare such as surgeries, mental health care, and hormones should be gasp! covered by their insurance. This obviously proves she’s part of a radical, liberal conspiracy meant to deceive the public into subsidizing all kinds of unsavory, immoral things.
This story apparently broke yesterday afternoon but I’m not hearing about it until today at 4am. I have a feeling that this is going to catch like wildfire and be handled with all the usual sensitivity and consideration Faux News can muster. And despite how on top of the sexism angle of the Sandra Fluke story the liberal media was (though utterly lacking in intersectionality or race issues), even they will fuck it up when it comes to this new trans* angle (and still, of course, fail on issues of race). I think it’s going to be pretty apparent very quickly how trans* healthcare issues are deemed cosmetic or elective, and how hard it is for us to navigate the stereotypes and cissexism that surrounds us when we want to access healthcare. Since this is coming up in the context of a reproductive rights/justice debate perhaps cis feminists/activists will think twice before dismissing the concerns of the trans* community on issues that can be life and death for us. Or, you know, maybe they’ll do what they always do.
Equality Matters reporting on the story [handled pretty well]:
"Right-Wing Media Now Attacking Fluke For Non-Controversial Review Of LGBT Employment Discrimination"
After spending most of the past week defending Rush Limbaugh’s misogynistic attacks on Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke, right-wing media outlets are now attacking Fluke for a 2011 paper she co-edited for The Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law (the full essay is behind a paywall) that described discrimination in employer coverage of transgender medical care.
The essay, titled, “Employment Discrimination Against LGBTQ Persons,” pointed out, in part, that employment discrimination persists against LGBT individuals, including coverage discrimination against transgender people:
Many LGBTQ individuals face discrimination in the provision of employment benefits. Discrimination typically takes two forms: first, direct discrimination limiting access to benefits specifically needed by LGBTQ persons, and secondly, the unavailability of family-related benefits to LGBTQ families.
Transgender persons wishing to undergo the gender reassignment process frequently face heterosexist employer health insurance policies that label the surgery as cosmetic or medically unnecessary and therefore uncovered.
The conservative Media Research Center’s Stephen Gutowski “discovered” the essay on March 5 and claimed it demonstrated that Fluke “is being sold by the left as something she’s not. Namely a random co-ed from Georgetown law who found herself mixed up in the latest front of the culture war who was simply looking to make sure needy women had access to birth control.” Gutowski claimed Fluke is “pushing some rather radical ideas. Keep that in mind as the left holds her up in the spotlight”:
You see, all opposition to the determination that sex changes are medically necessary, and therefor [sic] must be covered by private employer provided health insurance, is based on “ignorance and bias against transgender persons”.
The argument made in this article edited by Sandra Fluke and Karen Hu is quite clear. “Gender reassignment” is a medically necessary set of procedures that must be covered under employee provided health insurance policies. If it is not covered by those policies that is tantamount to discrimination and legal action should be taken against the employer.
So, as you can see, Sandra Fluke is not what she is being sold as. Instead she is a liberal activist pushing some rather radical ideas. Keep that in mind as the left holds her up in the spotlight.
And Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham brought the attack to Fox during this morning’s Fox & Friends:
INGRAHAM: Now we find out there was a law journal article written by this particular woman that seems to indicate that she believes that if you don’t pay for sex change operations, gender reassignment, it’s called – operations — you also could be described as a discriminatory employer. So today the pill. Tomorrow sex reassignment surgery, perhaps. And then down the road, what other things should be covered for free?
Fluke’s essay is a fairly comprehensive study of various types of employment discrimination against LGBT individuals but, ironically, the one charge that Gutowski chose to highlight as an example of the “radical ideas” that Fluke is “pushing” is not controversial at all.
The LGBT and HIV/AIDS legal advocacy group Lambda Legal has pointed out that the importance of removing financial barriers to gender reassignment is supported by mainstream, nonpartisan groups such as the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and other medical groups. The statement from the American Medical Association reads:
An established body of medical research demonstrates the effectiveness and medical necessity of mental health care, hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery as forms of therapeutic treatment for many people diagnosed with GID … Therefore, be it RESOLVED, that the AMA supports public and private health insurance coverage for treatment of gender identity disorder.
Moreover, many companies are already covering the cost of gender reassignment surgery. The Associated Press noted in a December 2011 article that a Human Rights Campaign report found that the number of U.S. companies offering coverage more than doubled in the past year:
The Human Rights Campaign said in a report to be published Thursday that 207 of the 636 businesses it surveyed for its annual Corporate Equality Index either are already providing transgender-inclusive employee health benefits or plan to at the start of the new year.
Last year, 85 companies had insurance plans that paid for sex transformation surgeries, and only 49 did in 2009. A decade ago, when the campaign launched the index, none did.
Among the corporations that expanded their insurance coverage this year are Apple, Chevron, General Mills, Dow Chemical, American Airlines, Kellogg, Sprint, Levi Strauss, Eli Lilly, Best Buy, Nordstrom, the U.S. division of Volkswagen, Whirlpool, Xerox, Raytheon and Office Depot.
The suggestion that Fluke’s description of discrimination in employer coverage of transgender medical care is somehow extreme or outside the mainstream is simply inaccurate.
ThinkProgress reporting on the story [handled not that well, imo]:
"How Contraception And Sexual Reassignment Surgery Benefits Create Equity In Health Care"
Seeking further opportunities to demonize Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke, conservatives are now attacking her as “radical” because she has advocated for transgender people to have sexual reassignment procedures covered by their insurance:
However, as I discovered today, birth control is not all that Ms. Fluke believes private health insurance must cover. She also, apparently, believes that it is discrimination deserving of legal action if “gender reassignment” surgeries are not covered by employer provided health insurance.
What seems to be lost in these conversations about health benefits is the notion of equity. Criticism that men are trying to make decisions about women’s health is warranted, because a man’s standard for quality of life is different than a woman’s. Consider that men can have as much sex as they want without getting pregnant. It’s a reality of biology, but it also represents a specific advantage men have over women in society. Ensuring women have access to birth control — setting aside the legitimate point that they may take it for health reasons other than avoiding pregnancy — levels the playing field for how they can function in society. It’s no coincidence that women can be condemned as “sluts,” but there’s no comparable word that disparages men for having sex if they want to.
Similarly, sexual reassignment surgery is a procedure that can benefit the quality of life for transgender people. All of us who are not trans (the term for us is “cisgender”) have the privilege of occupying bodies that match the gender with which we identify. Fluke was speaking out against insurers and employers who would label the surgery “cosmetic” or “medically unnecessary,” because such perspectives ignore the hardships transgender people often face when circumstances prevent them from transitioning. Just because we personally don’t need certain medical benefits doesn’t mean others don’t.
This is why there is some legitimacy to the claim that conservatives are fighting a “war on women.” Dictating that “what’s good enough for a man should be good enough for a woman” is selfish and naive, and such a philosophy treats women as second-class citizens by design. That many conservatives are now trying to smear Fluke for being an ally to the transgender community just shows how uninterested they are in respecting difference.
The social justice educator Vernon Wall is often quoted as saying, “Equality is when everyone has a pair of shoes. Equity is when everyone has a pair of shoes that fits.” There’s nothing “radical” about ensuring that all people have equitable access to the same quality of living in our society.
Transitioning with a Partner
*Despite his protests “no no go ahead,” I refused to publish this until Alex read it and approved it, so I didn’t violate his privacy*
For me, and I can only imagine for many other trans* men who are also androphiles, hitting puberty and becoming interested in guys was an extremely confusing time. It became clear to me as a person who was female that there were very narrow boxes of attributes that most straight cis men were interested in, especially during high school (and if you’re a FAAB androphile, straight cis men are sometimes your only dating pool). My gender identity was just one characteristic on a laundry list of personal traits that were suppressed and compartmentalized in favor of pleasing the only type of men I knew of to be interested in people who had female bodies. So I guess it comes as no surprise that when I finally started dating this guy who loved, appreciated, and respected me, I started to come out as trans*.
In high school, I met this boy, Alex. We became friends when he lent me his copy of Sim City 3000—this was in 2007 when 4 was around and Societies was just starting to be a thing, but Sim City 3000 is still the fucking shit (lol now I want to play it when I’m done writing).
I was in a relationship (with a huge douchebag), but regardless, I fell absolutely head-over-heels for this geeky, intellectual, kind, gender non-conforming person. In my entire life, I had never felt more like I *got* someone and that they got me. Thank God AIM was still popular when we became friends; we’d spend hours and hours just talking on AIM about everything. That’s how I fell in love with him. Not by going on dates or spending a lot of time with him in person, but by our intimate and intellectually stimulating conversations, in which I could be myself more than anyone had ever let me. And even though it took Alex, another person, to make me able to be myself, he gave me the wonderful gift of learning to be myself for myself. I think it shows in that in the course of our (going on) four-year relationship, we have disagreed about certain things, but he always loved me wholly, even the things he felt uncomfortable with. He never made me compartmentalize the things we disagree on the way other men I dated had. What has characterized our relationship even since our awkward AIMing days is that there was some cosmic understanding between us. When we first started dating, I wrote a poem about it in which I likened it to peering through a crystal-clear, transparent window at another person, when in every other instance, it was like an opaque, half-mirror type of thing. It was dazzling. It still is.
When I say that Alex and I have dated for almost four years, I have to qualify that by saying that in 2010, we broke up for about two months. I got cold feet and suddenly felt like I needed to run, run away from whatever it was that we had. I think the magnitude of our relationship frightened me. I think commitment frightened me. But whatsmore, I think that the honesty of our relationship frightened me, because I wasn’t out to myself as trans* man yet. I think I sensed it. I think I smelled it in the air that if I stayed with him, with this guy with whom I could be nothing else but my most honest self, I had to face up. I had to come out.
You can guess how the next part of the story goes. We got back together, and no-time later, I wrote in my journal, on June 13th, 2010, that I was a queer boy. I was listening to All Time Low’s “Damned If I Do Ya” on repeat and singing it to my mirror and I just looked at myself and I knew a queer boy stared back. If I can point to a single night that was a tipping point, that was it. That was the night I verbalized it, articulated it, typed it in a beta version of Word 2010 and clicked “save.”
When Alex and I try to come up with the moment I came out to him as a trans* man, we can’t. I’m not even sure if there was a single moment. There was just, “I’m coming over tonight dressed as a boy” and “I think we’re boyfriends” and a series of naturally-occurring events. I can’t remember the first time I said to him that I was a trans* man. Even though I wrote in my personal, private journal that I was queer boy, it feels like Alex was privy to every one of my moments of coming out to myself. So instead of me coming out to him, he was just there while I came out to myself.
And then I started to come out to other people, and all hell broke loose. For this post, I’ll focus on how it related to my relationship with Alex. First, of course, everyone told me I couldn’t be a man and love a man, which I think is just a huge punch-in-the-dick for every gay/bi/queer man on the planet, cis or trans*. Even a cis gay guy said to me once that I couldn’t really be a man if I loved men, and I was just like, “look in the mirror, buddy.” Silly MB (I was going by MB then), only lesbians become trans* men, don’t you know that? Second, turning on Alex’s identity. To this day, I can’t tell you how often people who are practically perfect strangers ask me how my boyfriend identifies! I don’t even think they realize just how RUDE that is! Does Alex being equally in love with and attracted to me before and after coming out imply that he is not 100% cookie-cutter gay or straight? Yes, it does, but frankly, some people think it’s their business when it really isn’t. People find out I’m trans* with a boyfriend and they feel the need to pry. No need to pry. I’m a trans* boy with a cis boyfriend. That’s all. No further explanation is needed. Just because I’ve made my identity your business doesn’t mean I’ve made his identity your business. And for the record, if you want to know how he identifies, he doesn’t. He doesn’t identify his sexual orientation with any of the existing labels or categories. He doesn’t feel that he has to. From someone who knows him as intimately as I do, it makes perfect sense that he wouldn’t, but other people just can’t stop gaping. We both go to the same doctor in our hometown where we met in high school, and when I came out to her, she was so accepting, asked if I was binding, knew her shit, but then she asked sweetly and innocently, “Do you think Alex is a homosexual?” OMG, the two of us still laugh out loud at our doctor’s professional and sweet voice asking that. Saying that in her voice is our inside joke about people’s messed-up perceptions of our relationship.
As a result, my coming out has been a coming out for him, too. Coming out as dating a trans* man, at least. Those of us who keep our partners through transition always must be sensitive about the fact that our partners are coming with us on this journey. It becomes a journey that belongs to the both of you. It’s welcoming to know that someone is going to cross a desert with you, go with you on the march, endure the parched mouth, the heat hallucinations alongside you. But it also means you have to find sustenance, shelter, water for both of you, instead of just enough for one. It’s a double-edged sword. You get support through your journey, but it becomes a more complicated journey. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’d rather share the last drop of my canteen with him while we both pass out of heat exhaustion than cross the desert alone.
Transitioning with a partner presents its own challenges that transitioning without one doesn’t, but at the same time, those of us who keep our partners through transition are incredibly blessed and fortunate. I know a lot of relationships DON’T survive transition, and I can’t even fathom the pain of both losing a partner AND having to deal with coming out yourself at the same time. Or what it would be like for me to transition without him right there with me.
Oh God, I’m starting to cry, how emasculating (JUST KIDDING!). Alex is my best friend, my life partner, the person I’m going to marry, the person who will raise children with me. The world doesn’t understand how to fathom relationships outside of heterosexual, cisgendered norms. I find that incredibly sad, that “Alex and I love each other” isn’t enough for some people. How tragic, that traditional notions of gender rule their own ideas of relationships. I don’t know how to wrap this up neatly any other way than to say I love him so much, and I’m so glad we get to huddle in our tent together on bitter-cold desert nights.
Thank you so much for writing this. While I’m non-binary, not a trans* man, our histories have so much in common, and this was beautiful to read. It gives me hope that this kind of love will be possible for me, too :)