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Transgender Student in Maine Wins in Court, Gets to Use the Bathroom

Transgender Student in Maine Wins in Court, Gets to Use the Bathroom

Girls just wanna have fun; and pee in the right place. For some reason, a whole lot of people seem to have a whole lot of problems with that when those girls are transgender. A raging debate from coast to coast over whether trans women and girls should be allowed to use the women’s room has sparked lawsuits, changes in school policies, and much, much more. Often, trans women and girls are the losers, but not in Maine, where a court just ruled on the side of a student who claims she was discriminated against because of her gender.

Why do people care so much about who uses which bathroom? It’s a bit of a question for the ages, but the short version can be summed up in one word: transphobia. Those who believe that trans people shouldn’t use the restrooms most appropriate for their gender (trans boys in the boys’ loo, trans girls in the ladies’ room) are usually cisgender, and they usually have hateful, outdated, and incorrect attitudes about trans people, especially trans women (this is known as transmisogyny). They think that trans women are “men in dresses” or sexual predators, and that allowing them into women’s restrooms will cause disruption or expose cis women to sexual harassment or assault.

This simply isn’t the case: someone who wants to sneak into a women’s restroom to hassle women isn’t going to go to all the trouble of coming out as trans, taking hormones, pursuing gender confirmation surgery, and enduring years of harassment and abuse. Meanwhile, transgender people are in danger every time they leave the house for an extended period of time, because finding a bathroom can be a fraught experience — those who are accused of using the “wrong” restroom may be harassed or assaulted. Consequently, some trans people develop infections from trying to hold it in until they can get home, limit their social lives to avoid situations where they might have to navigate bathroom panic just to take a pee, or get beaten or worse for daring to use the right restroom.

Nicole Maines, a transgender student in Maine, just wanted to use the bathroom at school along with her friends — hey, we feel you, Nicole, eight hours is a long time to hold it! Bizarrely, the grandfather of a fifth grade boy at the school complained about Nicole, and staff told her to start using their restroom, in a form of “separate, but equal” treatment that Nicole’s parents decided to take to court, offended that their daughter couldn’t use the bathroom like everyone else.

The court’s decision is great news for the trans community in Maine, as it clarifies antidiscrimination laws and sets a precedent to use in other cases. However, it’s a narrow one, as the court itself noted in its findings: “[W]e do not suggest that any person could demand access to any school facility or program based solely on a self-declaration of gender identity.” In other words, trans students who want access to the right facilities and programs will need to be able to show evidence that they are not only in treatment for gender dysphoria, but that they have been categorically diagnosed as transgender — which is a problem for those who can’t access treatment or are just starting to explore their gender identity.

Meanwhile, in California, a new law finally allows transgender students to select bathrooms and sports teams on the basis of their gender, creating a clear state-wide precedent that may act to stop some discrimination in the act. And in several cities across the country, schools and public agencies are designating gender-neutral restrooms or making anti-discrimination policies clear. While gender-neutral restrooms aren’t an ideal solution, they’re a step in the right direction when it comes to being free to pee.

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

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10:26AM PST on Feb 24, 2014

good news

11:00PM PST on Feb 12, 2014

Martha F. Unless you're peeping in the stalls that other women are using, you'd NEVER KNOW you sat in a stall next to a trans woman.

NEXT excuse to deny the RIGHT to simply go pee? YOUR COMFORT does NOT EVER trump the rights of others to use public facilities.

10:58PM PST on Feb 12, 2014

For the slow students, in over 60 years of trans people existing, the ONLY people who appear fully masculine, beard & all, who put on a dress & go into the ladies room, are the right wing fear mongers staging an event to promote their "what if" doomsday scenario.

NOT ONE instance of a TS woman using a ladies room, involves a bearded person that's very male in appearance going in the ladies room. NOT. ONE.

In six decades. NOT. ONE.

The simple fact is the whole "man in a dress" meme, is one perpetrated time & again by right wing transphobes who are desperately trying to prevent Trans people from having EQUAL RIGHTS, period. That's the be-all, end all of it.

1:41PM PST on Feb 12, 2014

stop peeking over the stall to see if the trans person has a wee wee and problem solved.

11:52AM PST on Feb 12, 2014

For someone who likes to do my business in private it has taken me years to be somewhat comfortable with using the bathroom with other women. Having someone who looks like a male in the bathroom even though she feels female would make it nearly impossible. It has nothing to do with "transphobia". I am just a very shy and private person when it comes to my bathroom duties. Don't make assumptions!

6:40AM PST on Feb 12, 2014

Cont:

(this is a generalization, since not all trans* guys even want a beard, I know I don't).

So there is more to this then some people like to see. And, since most people seem the most concerned with trans* people using the ladies room, I've never been in a women's bathroom that didn't have stalls that lock (unless it only had one toilet, then the door locked). And trust me, it would be obvious if someone tried to peek through that little crack. All transwomen (or anyone) want is to be able to use the bathroom in peace without worry. And for trans* people, that comes very rarely, as most have to worry about everything from security being called on them, to being attacked either verbalyl, physically, or sexually. Which is why many do their best to not use public washrooms at all. People shouldn't have to fear using the washroom, no matter what.

6:38AM PST on Feb 12, 2014

Will R:

As this girl is still very young, she would be pre-op, but that shouldn't matter, nor is it really anyone's business if she, or any trans* person, are pre-op or not. Nor should it matter if they ever decide to go post-op. Some decide to never get surgery for a variety of reasons, ranging from medical (it is impossible for them to get surgery), financial, personal preference, and more. I'm not sure what you mean by the comment "in training or qualified".

As to your comment "But if a bloke with a beard and a dress who stands up to pee walks into the ladies....What then?" Well there are a few things wrong with this statement. First of all, transwomen at the very least shave, and most choose to get electrolysis if they can afford it. So they aren't going to be going into the ladies bathroom with beards. And while I'm not sure, since I'm FTM (female-to-male), I would think that many sit to pee, since they probably hate being reminded that they were born with the wrong genitalia (I know I hate being reminded).

And then there is the simple fact that, even without surgery, many trans* people pass. People who say, well use the bathroom that matches your current genitalia, don't take that into consideration. A trans* guy who has been on testosterone for a couple years walking into the women's room would not be appreciated if he had a full beard, hairy arms, and stands to pee through the use of a STP (stand-to-pee device) even if he was pre-op (this is a generalization,

2:15AM PST on Feb 12, 2014

Pre op or post op? In training or qualified? Shouldn't it depend on your genitalia? If a woman puts on men's clothing and walks into the gents to have a look, of course we men won't feel threatened. But if a bloke with a beard and a dress who stands up to pee walks into the ladies....What then? It all depends on what the ladies say, if they accept her, cool. If they don't? Then do we need to reeducate them? I don't have the answers, just lots of questions. Enlighten me fellow forumeers!

8:24PM PST on Feb 11, 2014

ty

6:40PM PST on Feb 11, 2014

I consider it a mute point. When are people going to accept that transgender mind in this case is a female, she was simply born with the wrong organ. You can not change the mind the equipment can be altered to accommodate the function of the mind. Ignorance befuddles logic.

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