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trans kids matter
June 14, 2014 8:55 AM   Subscribe

The Vancouver School Board's controversial new gender identity policy (pdf, faq) is on the cusp of passage, even in the face of opposition from evangelical christian chinese parents protesting against it. One Vancouver mother speaks out for her 11 year old transgender son, and in support of VSB's new transgender policies (audio, interview starts at 1m30).
posted by and they trembled before her fury (84 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
The Globe And Mail article in the first link is unnecessarily sensationalist. Here is the breadth of what it says about the bathroom issue:

Jane Wang, an engineering professor at the University of British Columbia, said at the news conference she has just put her two kids on the waiting list for a private school because she is concerned her young daughter’s privacy will be invaded if bathrooms become gender neutral.

The University of British Columbia, where she works, has "gender neutral" bathrooms. So do Vancouver's parks, malls, public markets, office buildings. There is no way Jane hasn't seen them. They are not massive rooms where everybody goes to do their business. They are a third option: a small room with a locking door and a single sink and toilet. Full privacy for people who don't feel comfortable (for ANY reason) using one of the larger stall-containing washrooms. They are a great option to have. The linked FAQ confirms that this is what is being proposed:

I've heard something about change-rooms and washroom. What's that all about?

Over the last several years, many schools have been working with trans* students and their parents/guardians to accommodate students’ needs for washroom and change room options that are safe and that correspond to their gender identity. In most cases, schools have been able to provide an accessible all gender single stall washroom for use by any student who desire increased privacy. All students require a safe washroom facility and change room that corresponds to their gender identity.

Where possible, schools will provide an easily accessible all gender single stall washroom for use by any student who desires increased privacy, regardless of the underlying reason. A similar policy has been adopted by the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation to make gender-neutral washrooms and change rooms available to the public.

posted by mantecol at 9:16 AM on June 14 [16 favorites]


I'm not familiar with Vancouver's newspapers... is the Vancouver Sun usually so race-baity? (See also: blaming the black community for Prop 8 in 2008.)
posted by kmz at 9:17 AM on June 14


After Chen's child confided in the principal, meetings were set up between the parents and the school board's LGBT mentor to chart the way forward. "I told the principal ... I will support [my child's decisions] because I respect my child as a human being who can make a decision for himself," Chen told me. "He is the best person to make that decision. I know he is young. But I do not want him to be afraid."

It's all dusty in here all of a sudden.
posted by rtha at 9:18 AM on June 14 [9 favorites]


I mean, don't get me wrong, I know lots of Chinese people who are shitheads about LGBT rights, but that's not exactly unique among demographics.
posted by kmz at 9:19 AM on June 14


kmz: I don't know about race-baity in particular but the Sun is garbage, we get a big stack of papers every morning at work and the Sun is always the last to go.
posted by Cosine at 9:40 AM on June 14


@kmz: in general, if you are reading a * Sun newspaper (where * is any Canadian city), you should stop and read another newspaper.
posted by sixohsix at 9:42 AM on June 14 [12 favorites]


It's all dusty in here all of a sudden.

And the grandma!
posted by hoyland at 9:43 AM on June 14


It's weird sometimes how the Best Coast is so very damn progressive in some ways, and so regressive in others.

Hasn't changed since I lived there 17 years ago; local/regional/municipal-level policies seem on balance to be looking forward, while everything that comes out of the Legislature in Victoria, on balance, is looking backwards.

Either way, a round of applause for the VSB for being human.

@kmz: in general, if you are reading a * Sun newspaper (where * is any Canadian city), you should stop and read another newspaper.

Another? I think you mean 'a newspaper.' Sun Media may be printed on paper and sold at news stands, but that's only to make it easier to pick up toilet paper in an emergency.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:45 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]


I respect the hell out of parents like Fiona Chen. It's pretty clear she comes from a background where openness to trans issues isn't the expected thing. But she's doing her best to help and support her child, and along the way, she's discovering that there are others in her community that support him, too.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:57 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


I spent some time this past year mentoring highschool students. We are on a cusp of a new era of gender identity and politics. It gives me some small measure of hope.
posted by petrilli at 10:00 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]


@kmz: in general, if you are reading a * Sun newspaper (where * is any Canadian city), you should stop and read another newspaper.

FYI The Vancouver Sun is not a "Sun" newspaper. It predates the exploitative UK style tabloid Quebecor owned Sun papers by some 60 years.
posted by Zedcaster at 10:00 AM on June 14 [4 favorites]


I had that 'pleasantly-surprised-but-maybe-I've-been-uncharitable' feeling recently when I noticed a local restaurant had a single-stall, fine-for-anyone restroom, in addition to the men's and ladies'. It's not a funky eatery in the artsy area, it's a huge, rambling, multiple-dining-rooms 1700s (with 1950s colonial-style veneer) mill known for brunch and fritters, and the median customer age seems to be about 78.

I think the bathroom facility was labeled 'unisex', which I thought I heard was on the outs as a descriptor, but a cursory googling doesn't seem to raise much about that, so maybe I'm mistaken.

The only problem I have with bathrooms like that has more to do with them being single-user. Sometimes one prefers the anonymity of a line of stalls, vs. having someone tapping their foot 2 feet away on the other side of a hollow door. It might seem trivial to think of in terms of Big Sweeping Political Things, but restroom comforts are so basic and universal. It's kind of absurd that the 'line of stalls' sort of facility is a privilege, but if one has a preference for it, it is.

(For what it's worth though, the men's and ladies' at the restaurant are also single-user, so there's that.)
posted by Lou Stuells at 10:17 AM on June 14


Gendering single-user restrooms at all is pointless. It mostly has to do with building codes, I gather, and the requirements for gendered restrooms that exist in them, but when it comes to self-contained restrooms, it makes no sense to gender them.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:22 AM on June 14 [5 favorites]


In what culture is openness to Trans issues an expected thing? We may have come a long way but there is not a culture where Trans people aren't near the bottom of the social pecking order.
posted by munchingzombie at 10:24 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


If you want to get mistier, the linked HuffPost article about Fiona Chen links to video of her speaking at a Vancouver school board meeting (she starts at 2:10:29). What a rockstar mom.
posted by lalex at 10:30 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


In what culture is openness to Trans issues an expected thing?

I wasn't thinking cultural, exactly, but her conservative Christian background vs. a more lefty liberal background. Not all lefty liberals are all that good on trans issues, either, I recognize, but it's just not something you expect to see at all in a more conservative group of people.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:35 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


> The University of British Columbia, where she works, has "gender neutral" bathrooms. So do Vancouver's parks, malls,
> public markets, office buildings. There is no way Jane hasn't seen them. They are not massive rooms where everybody
> goes to do their business. They are a third option: a small room with a locking door and a single sink and toilet.

All of them? Or all that will be marked gender-neutral? I see no guarantee of that, though I could gave missed it. If there really are no multi-stall public bathrooms in any of these locations it's hard to imagine a UBC engineering professor could fail to have noticed.

> Where possible, schools will provide an easily accessible all gender single stall washroom for use by any student who
> desires increased privacy, regardless of the underlying reason.

The "where possible" clause vitiates that very firm-sounding promise. There's nothing there.
posted by jfuller at 10:36 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


Gendering single-user restrooms at all is pointless.

In theory, yes, although if men pee on the seat more often then there's a reasonable case for segregated bathrooms.
posted by jpe at 10:47 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


Well, no, I think that's a reasonably case for slapping men upside the head until they learn to clean up after themselves.

Though, in reality, based on my brief experiences cleaning washrooms at various jobs I had in high school, women are far more likely to pee on the seat as they attempt to hover over it and not get anything icky on themselves. The fact that there would be nothing icky on the seat if other people like them weren't effing trying to hover over it seems to have been lost on them.

And there's a slap upside the head case to be made about that, too.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:52 AM on June 14 [17 favorites]


In most cases, schools have been able to provide an accessible all gender single stall washroom for use by any student who desire increased privacy. All students require a safe washroom facility and change room that corresponds to their gender identity.

Wow this is an incredible improvement from what I've seen exist. A college some of my friends attended switched most of the bathrooms to gender neutral... But did it with the Stalled bathrooms. Yes, seriously.

A lot of people were uncomfortable with this, especially a lot of women. They pretty unilaterally got called bigots. The entire thing was out of some "let's make fun of tumblr SJWs" kinda persons wet dream, writ large. I didn't believe my friend when they first explained it.

Why they didn't just do it this obviously superior way beats me.
posted by emptythought at 10:57 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


What has been interesting for me following this (from across the water in Victoria) is how many Chinese-Canadian immigrants listen to CBC 690 FM (the leading AM station for drive-in/drive-home shows). Although they have a variety of views (some in favour, some against this new policy), it's just cool that people are listening to CBC AM radio. Get rid of television programming, but for god's sake keep funding radio is all I can say.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:59 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]


If you want to get mistier, the linked HuffPost article about Fiona Chen links to video of her speaking at a Vancouver school board meeting (she starts at 2:10:29). What a rockstar mom.
posted by lalex at 1:30 PM on June 14
Thanks. I watched some of the video but hadn't gotten as far as there before I posted. There's a Q&A section addressed to her after the thunderous applause she gets, as well.
posted by and they trembled before her fury at 11:05 AM on June 14


I'm not even sure if "traditional gender roles" is the issue, either. Most of the people calling-in to the radio programs I listen to seem to have a problem with the idea that school counsellors can essentially withhold information from parents.

As a parent, I'm not a big fan of this either, but then again if you have a good connection with your kids this shouldn't be an issue. Plus, school staff already maintain confidentiality about any number of other things already, so...

I would be curious how transgender folks regard the idea that "gender is fluid" at this age, so this new policy is acknowledging a transgender identity, only to see a kid identify as their birth/biological identity (sorry, no offense meant if I have mangled things up here) later on. And there is also the issue of safety I guess if girls (that is people born biologically as girls) don't have their own secure space to get changed and go to the bathroom.

As you can tell from my somewhat confused use of lingo above, I think it's really an issue about educating parents about what the policy means, since at this point in time there is not really an awareness of what "transgender" actually is.

Finally, I think it's kind of dumb to regard Chinese-Canadian parents as being somehow "special" and divergent from traditional Canadian values of tolerance etc. They're just parents who want the best for their kids. Hopefully they can be persuaded and educated that the new policy is a good idea.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:07 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


In theory, yes, although if men pee on the seat more often then there's a reasonable case for segregated bathrooms.

Or pee detectors that bolt the exit door until Mr. Slobbo cleans up after himself.
posted by Pudhoho at 12:04 PM on June 14 [3 favorites]


And there is also the issue of safety I guess if girls (that is people born biologically as girls) don't have their own secure space to get changed and go to the bathroom.

This is so a non-issue and a transphobic talking point it's not even funny. I'm just going to refer you to the Coy Mathis thread and MeTa.
posted by hoyland at 12:06 PM on June 14 [22 favorites]


Good for Vancouver.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 12:20 PM on June 14


as their birth/biological identity (sorry, no offense meant if I have mangled things up here)

KokoRyu, what I've seen used recently for this is "assigned gender".
posted by MartinWisse at 12:40 PM on June 14 [2 favorites]


This is so a non-issue and a transphobic talking point it's not even funny.

It's not transphobic at all; I did mention a couple of times that I am totally unfamiliar with the issues. You should also be able to recognize an ally and be a bit more patient. My heart's in the right place.

Explain to me why this is transphobic and why girls don't need safe places where they can be with other girls (and yes I recognize that trans folk are also girls).
posted by KokuRyu at 12:41 PM on June 14 [2 favorites]


KokoRyu, what I've seen used recently for this is "assigned gender".

Thank you. It's tough to get it right, and believe me I would never want to hurt any of my friends.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:42 PM on June 14


It's not transphobic at all; I did mention a couple of times that I am totally unfamiliar with the issues. You should also be able to recognize an ally and be a bit more patient. My heart's in the right place.

It might help you to know that "bathroom panic" is a very tired trope that's frequently used by people who really don't mean well at all in these discussions.

Also, there actually isn't anything about a bathroom being sex-segregated that makes anybody safe. Boys assault each other in boys-only bathrooms and likewise girls assault each other. It's assaults - by anyone - we should address.
posted by rtha at 12:57 PM on June 14 [12 favorites]


Note that I did not say you were transphobic, I said you were parroting a transphobic talking point (with no comment as to whether I thought you were doing that knowingly or unknowingly--for the record I assumed unknowingly).

Explain to me why this is transphobic and why girls don't need safe places where they can be with other girls (and yes I recognize that trans folk are also girls).

I pointed you to a previous discussion on this issue.
posted by hoyland at 1:13 PM on June 14 [4 favorites]


Sorry, this thread has a huge element of "here we go again" for those of us who experienced the Coy Mathis thread and following MeTa as a huge drain on our emotional resources. That's why I'm drawing this line in the sand and saying "We've talked about it already. Go read that."
posted by hoyland at 1:15 PM on June 14 [10 favorites]


A college some of my friends attended switched most of the bathrooms to gender neutral... But did it with the Stalled bathrooms. Yes, seriously.

This is how it worked at my school:

1. New dorms had gender neutral bathrooms by default. The 'stalls' were actually rooms, with floor-to-ceiling doors. Shared sinks. Nicest bathrooms you'll ever see, and you didn't have to walk down to the end of the hall to your gendered bathroom, and you could poop in peace and quiet.

2. Old dorms with stalled bathrooms could opt-in to gender-neutral bathrooms but it was only by consensus (floor-by-floor). A single resident could object anonymously and have it re-gendered.

Why they didn't just do it this obviously superior way beats me.

Building a new, gender-neutral bathroom on every floor of every dorm on campus would be an undertaking. Shitty old dormitories with tiny bathrooms already, and every other square foot of space taken up by student living space. Not that it would be impossible or even a bad idea, but it's a lot easier to reassign existing bathrooms.
posted by BungaDunga at 1:19 PM on June 14 [3 favorites]


It would require expensive retrofitting but I don't understand, frankly, why all bathrooms aren't single-occupancy (I don't want to hear you poop, okay?) and why changerooms can't be built with little private cubicles for each person to change in, as most 'family' changerooms are built.

Admittedly showering could be problematic for some parents, but in my experience most kids up to about age 10 or so DGAF about cross-gender nudity.

Either that or we just go completely off the rails and segregate all such facilities on a matrix of gender and sexual orientation so everyone's in their own little pigeonhole, which would suck.

I mean for fuck's sake. We're all born naked. We're all naked under our clothes. It's just bodies, dammit, so why make such a big damn deal about who's allowed where, especially when we are talking about pre-pubescent children?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:21 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


Here's a link to the Coy Mathis thread, for anyone interested.
posted by dialetheia at 1:23 PM on June 14


I mean seriously, this panic about someone who happens to have dangly genitals (but doesn't on the inside) using the same bathroom (or, shock horror, changeroom) as someone who doesn't is just bizarre (or vice-versa, insert whatever gender combination you prefer). What's the next step for these moral panic idiots? Making sure the queer boys don't change with the straight boys, and the queer girls don't change with the straight girls?

It's all so ridiculous and I just can't even anymore. Quoting Darren Nichols from S&A: "But they were Victorian and could therefore be excused. You live in a post-modern society. YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER."
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:26 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


Sorry this shit is really bugging me lately and I just wish people could start being nice to each other and realize we're all just sacks of bone and gristle and blood and move the hell on.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:28 PM on June 14 [2 favorites]


My university dorm had the option to, by consensus, turn our washrooms into gender neutral ones back in 1998. For most people I'm sure it was less about politics and more about cutting down walking distance to the shower.

I also applaud the ability for counselors to withhold information from parents. Encouraging children to tell their parents directly, and make the decision the child's decision and not a third party's, is important. So too is protecting children from parents who will beat the hell out of them if they find out their child lives outside their gender norm.
posted by thecjm at 1:38 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


This is so a non-issue and a transphobic talking point it's not even funny. I'm just going to refer you to the Coy Mathis thread and MeTa.

Jesus. One of the important comments in the Coy Mathis thread was that: "Most children aged 5 to 12 years diagnosed as having GID do not persist in having GID as adolescents; rather, most become homosexual or bisexual adolescents and adults."

As such you're frankly trying to to take trans-ownership of an issue that is much broader, and TFA is saying they're providing a single stall washroom for privacy and safety - so then are the the Vancouver School Board also transphobic for imagining that e.g. a gender-nonconforming 12 year old girl might not want to get changed in the locker room with 12-14 year old boys?
posted by crayz at 1:41 PM on June 14


My residence in university had one washroom per floor (3 stalls and 3 shower stalls which closed with curtains) and none of us had issues with that. This was twenty five years ago. It would have been different on the general campus where strangers are wandering in and out but no big deal in our living situation .

I feel the same way for schools. They are closed communities and especially in grade schools I don't think that anyone is under threat other than by bullies, in the washroom.

Also the current recommendation from professionals who work with gender questioning kids is to let them live in the gender they choose. Some of the kids will be trans* and some will go back to their assigned gender.

I am very impressed with the VSB
posted by biggreenplant at 1:43 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


Jesus. One of the important comments in the Coy Mathis thread was that: "Most children aged 5 to 12 years diagnosed as having GID do not persist in having GID as adolescents; rather, most become homosexual or bisexual adolescents and adults."

As was noted (probably by me) in that thread, "trans children" and children diagnosable as having GID(C) (which might be dead as of DSM V, but anyway) are different populations.
posted by hoyland at 1:44 PM on June 14 [4 favorites]


It was me. It was the very next comment after the one linked.
posted by hoyland at 1:48 PM on June 14


As was noted (probably by me) in that thread, "trans children" and children diagnosable as having GID(C) (which might be dead as of DSM V, but anyway) are different populations.

Gotcha. So, this is a thread about a proposed Vancouver School Board policy which regards
establishing and maintaining a safe, inclusive, equitable, and welcoming learning and working environment for all members of the school community, including all students and employees who identify as (or are perceived as) lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, Two Spirit, intersex, queer and those who are questioning their sexual orientation and/or gender identity (LGBTQ+).
Given that, talking about creating safe spaces for gender-nonconforming kids who may not become trans seems quite relevant and not at all something that should be described as "transphobic"
posted by crayz at 1:49 PM on June 14


Given that, talking about creating safe spaces for gender-nonconforming kids who may not become trans seems quite relevant and not at all something that should be described as "transphobic"

I no longer have any idea what you're talking about.
posted by hoyland at 1:50 PM on June 14


Your comment?
posted by crayz at 1:51 PM on June 14


I think crayz is trying to make some strange point about trans* people appropriating this issue as their own when it's not only about trans* people? Or something?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:53 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


Yeah, bathroom panic by any other name.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:53 PM on June 14 [5 favorites]


So the VSB policy of creating safe private stalls, especially for gender nonconforming kids, is an example of transphobic bathroom panic?
posted by crayz at 1:56 PM on June 14


> I mean seriously, this panic about someone who happens to have dangly genitals (but doesn't on the inside) using the
> same bathroom (or, shock horror, changeroom) as someone who doesn't is just bizarre (or vice-versa, insert whatever
> gender combination you prefer). What's the next step for these moral panic idiots?

Public nudity for adults is a fraught issue in almost all societies, and for children in many of them, with the age at which it becomes significant varying. That makes billions and billions of moral panic idiots.
posted by jfuller at 1:56 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


I suspect that what KokoRyu is saying is also my knee-jerk--the articles are talking about gender-neutral bathrooms, but not specifying that they'll continue to exist alongside gendered bathrooms. So, for example, you'll have explicitly girls-only, explicitly boys-only, and a unisex bathroom. Which is good, I think, and as it should be. But in many of the articles, it reads as if all bathrooms will be unisex. Which, I think, is the point of the articles, because why report on things when you can sensationalise with some bathroom panic clickbait?

So reading the articles, it's easy to walk away with the implication that all of the bathrooms are going to be like that. Which is I think what KokoRyu was saying--no twelve year old girl (and transgirls are, obviously, girls, and the policy makes that explicit) wants to change in a bathroom with a twelve year old boy, even if he's in another stall. So providing gendered bathrooms and allowing the kids to use the one that's in line with their identity--which is what I think they're doing--eliminates that problem, but the fact that they're not explicitly stating that in the articles makes it easy to miss that point.
posted by MeghanC at 1:59 PM on June 14 [2 favorites]


Enormous chunks of Europe give no fucks about adult nudity in public (albeit usually segregated) areas. We, as a society, need to get the hell over this.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:59 PM on June 14


Also, in case it wasn't clear from my comment: I think that the school board is doing the right thing, and that the media is intentionally reporting on it and phrasing things in the most inflammatory and sensationalist manner possible, which leads to further misunderstanding and more fear of trans people, and also, as a completely coincidental bonus, more people interested in clicking headlines and reading the news because nothing sells like a moral panic. I'm sure that's a coincidence, though.
posted by MeghanC at 2:04 PM on June 14 [3 favorites]


So the VSB policy of creating safe private stalls, especially for gender nonconforming kids, is an example of transphobic bathroom panic?

Was anybody saying that?
posted by MartinWisse at 2:06 PM on June 14 [3 favorites]


> the fact that they're not explicitly stating that in the articles makes it easy to miss that point.

Example set by the school board's own policy .pdf and faq (both linked in the fpp) which don't mention the point either. I asked about that earlier in the thread and answer comes there none. It appears that nobody knows, and the school board ain't sayin'. So yeah, easy to miss.
posted by jfuller at 3:18 PM on June 14


Trans 101 for people unfamiliar with trans issues (we've also covered the sad fact that the 101 designation is condescending so maybe we can accept it as an unfortunate shorthand instead of rehashing it here.)
posted by gingerest at 3:37 PM on June 14 [3 favorites]


(Not to mini-mod. Just suggesting.)
posted by gingerest at 3:38 PM on June 14


I hated the Vancouver Sun article. It's really egregiously race-baity.

From the "speaks out for her 11-year-old" link: Nor does Chen see opposition to LGBT-friendly policies as consistent with "Chinese values": "I asked my husband about this and we both scratched our heads and said, 'Really?'"

Fiona Chen and her extended family are amazing. Yeah, that "Chinese values" excuse is some tired bullshit of convenience. I'll thank people not to tell me bigotry is part of my cultural values.

I am pleased the VSB has decided to support the needs of real, actual, current trans students instead of bending to arguments about the hypothetical bigotry of hypothetical future international students.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:58 PM on June 14 [8 favorites]


I don't know what "Chinese values" are exactly, but I'm quite sure that "Evangelical Christian Chinese" do not represent them.
posted by fatehunter at 5:33 PM on June 14


Tangentially related but:

Taiwan gender equality ranked 2nd globally due to political engagement: DGBAS
posted by Golden Eternity at 5:42 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


Only in Vancouver would realtors be brought in for consultation on a school board's non-discrimination policy. I love this city to hell, but sometimes it's the absolute worst. The biggest shame here is that Woo and Denike were still on the board (and on a major party's ticket) to this point.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 5:42 PM on June 14


KokuRyu: "Get rid of television programming, but for god's sake keep funding radio is all I can say."

Sadly the Harper governmrnt has been busy slashing their budget too.

feckless fecal fear mongering: "It would require expensive retrofitting but I don't understand, frankly, why all bathrooms aren't single-occupancy (I don't want to hear you poop, okay?) and why changerooms can't be built with little private cubicles for each person to change in, as most 'family' changerooms are built."

Money. Even in new construction individual washrooms are way more money.
posted by Mitheral at 7:07 PM on June 14


hoyland: "Sorry, this thread has a huge element of "here we go again" for those of us who experienced the Coy Mathis thread and following MeTa as a huge drain on our emotional resources. That's why I'm drawing this line in the sand and saying "We've talked about it already. Go read that."

Not saying you're not right, but you could also ignore the thread.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:24 PM on June 14


I know, Mitheral. Perhaps the solution is genderless washrooms with both urinals and stalls (or urinaled and stalled washrooms). That way everyone can choose where they are most comfortable, as a dear friend of mine has said, venting drive plasma.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:24 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


Joakim, ignoring < education. Always.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:28 PM on June 14


Not saying you're not right, but you could also ignore the thread.

I don't want to get overly meta here, but as a general thing it's understandably frustrating when the folks with the biggest direct investment in a hard topic are the ones hearing "maybe skip the thread". There's no easy answers here for tackling something that's a bumpy issue of collective progressive thought or whatever, but there's a difference between disinterested drivebys complaining about not wanting to have to make the effort of discussing something they don't have 101 familiarity with and actual stakeholders expressing frustration about having to sit through the same old Yeah But Have You Considered My Disinterested Theories stuff.
posted by cortex at 7:41 PM on June 14 [9 favorites]


Money+space+time.
Individual washrooms require more foot area per toiliet and sink than stall bathrooms.
Also time, and I can't find the reference right now, but people who use individual toilets take more time that using stalls, not a lot, but it adds up.
This does not mean that it should not be a design standard to aspire to but in spaces where you have hundreds/thousands of people sharing the same facilities segregated stalls is the "up to now" design normal. Generaly developers do not like toilets, they cut in to precius premium area/price ratio, and only put in enogth toilet to comply with local regulation. That is why in a lot of places disable toilets are lumped toghether with girls toilet.
That said, I have seen a lot of design norms on toilets around the world change for better sanitation reasons, lets add this one to the pot, personaly as a designer I welcome it.
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 7:53 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


I had that 'pleasantly-surprised-but-maybe-I've-been-uncharitable' feeling recently when I noticed a local restaurant had a single-stall, fine-for-anyone restroom, in addition to the men's and ladies'. It's not a funky eatery in the artsy area, it's a huge, rambling, multiple-dining-rooms 1700s (with 1950s colonial-style veneer) mill known for brunch and fritters, and the median customer age seems to be about 78.

I think the bathroom facility was labeled 'unisex', which I thought I heard was on the outs as a descriptor, but a cursory googling doesn't seem to raise much about that, so maybe I'm mistaken.

not to be cynical but it kind of sounds more like they had room for three bathrooms and felt it would be impolitic to specifically give men or women an extra one.
posted by threeants at 10:06 PM on June 14


"In what culture is openness to Trans issues an expected thing?"

In vancouver, a pretty big chunk of the population actually. I can't actually think of anyone among my personal friends who I think would tolerate any overt expression of non-openness.
posted by lastobelus at 10:08 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


I think the bathroom facility was labeled 'unisex', which I thought I heard was on the outs as a descriptor, but a cursory googling doesn't seem to raise much about that, so maybe I'm mistaken

When you're advocating for bathrooms, it seems the term is usually "gender neutral", but if you're an architect or the department that orders signs for bathrooms, you say "unisex". From a getting the job done perspective, anything that isn't "family bathroom" is the way to go--"family bathroom" inevitably gets interpreted as "people with small children" and individuals using it get hassled.

Basically, you want to emphasise that the bathroom is accessible to everyone and can meet various needs not met by your usual multi-stall gendered bathroom. (I think I was in Haneda Airport in Tokyo and there was this amazing sign detailing all the different needs they could imagine the gender neutral bathroom meeting. Japan in general seemed big on signs making sure you knew what was in any bathroom you were about to enter.)
posted by hoyland at 3:45 AM on June 15 [1 favorite]


"In what culture is openness to Trans issues an expected thing?"

People can surprise you. I worked in an elementary school in rural southern Spain that has, and is completely supportive of, a trans student in the 5-year-old class (link in Spanish).
posted by chainsofreedom at 7:11 AM on June 15


"In what culture is openness to Trans issues an expected thing?"

Any culture that values self-expression and humanity.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:45 AM on June 15


I'm not familiar with Vancouver's newspapers... is the Vancouver Sun usually so race-baity?

Yes. Yes they are. It's most evident in stories about LGBT issues, but it also crops up whenever anyone mentions Vancouver's astronomical real estate prices and "non-resident owners."

A Georgia Straight columnist took the racist rhetoric to task in a recent op-ed piece. As an African-American, a lot of what he mentioned in the piece seems so familiar.
posted by likorish at 11:52 AM on June 15 [3 favorites]


That's a great Georgia Straight article, likorish. Thanks for posting it.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:27 PM on June 15


That's a great Georgia Straight article, likorish. Thanks for posting it.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:27 PM on June 15
Linked in that article is also a lengthy piece on the topic in the OP. Thanks as well!
posted by and they trembled before her fury at 6:49 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]


As was noted (probably by me) in that thread, "trans children" and children diagnosable as having GID(C) (which might be dead as of DSM V, but anyway) are different populations.

Wait, what?

From what I recall, which I freely admit could be wrong, the idea was that GID was a medicalized way of saying "trans" which a lot of trans folk were not happy with and felt was unnecessarily medicalizing what did not need to be medicalized. Is that...not correct? Are you saying that GID can exist as a real disorder for people who are not trans alongside trans people? And if so, how are you supposed to tell?
posted by corb at 6:44 AM on June 16


It seems strange to conflate school bathrooms with public bathrooms.
posted by moxiedoll at 5:19 PM on June 16


I can't read too many of these articles, I get so upset...
posted by Theta States at 8:32 PM on June 16


as expected: vancouver school board approves transgender students policy
posted by and they trembled before her fury at 9:59 PM on June 16 [3 favorites]


and: motion passes for genderless bathrooms in Vancouver schools
(including a photo of the packed meeting room, and a video at the bottom)
posted by and they trembled before her fury at 10:01 PM on June 16 [3 favorites]


From what I recall, which I freely admit could be wrong, the idea was that GID was a medicalized way of saying "trans" which a lot of trans folk were not happy with and felt was unnecessarily medicalizing what did not need to be medicalized. Is that...not correct? Are you saying that GID can exist as a real disorder for people who are not trans alongside trans people? And if so, how are you supposed to tell?

It's reasonable that you're confused. What was called "gender identity disorder" and is now (in DSM-V) called "gender dysphoria" when applied to adults is roughly a medicalized way of saying trans. (That's a fairly problematic statement, but let's go with it as a rough approximation.) However, the history of GID(C) is very much tied up in the idea that you could stop gender non-conforming kids from growing up to be queer. It was a way of medicalizing "incipient homosexuality", even after homosexuality was removed from the DSM, so "kids diagnosed with GID(C)" has historically included lots of kids that no one thinks of as trans, but simply as gender non-conforming (e.g. boys who play with dolls), including the research that shows most children with GID(C) grow up to be gay and not trans. Hopefully, it's now only applied to children who one would think of as clearly trans, but anytime the "kids with GID(C) don't grow up to be trans" thing gets trotted out, it has to be disclaimed.

I'm going out now, but can try and answer questions when I get back.
posted by hoyland at 5:04 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


Thanks hoyland, that helps a bit, but still seems kind of confusing - which might partially be what happens when you try to create disorders that seem to center around "being different."

Are there any best practices for medical professionals written by LGBT individuals on how to tell the difference between gender nonconforming kids who are struggling with their sexuality and wishing they were the opposite gender so that they would be heterosexual and "normal," and from actual trans kids?
posted by corb at 6:07 AM on June 18


The actual finalized policy has the following language in it, hopefully preempting some sensationalist articles I've seen go around:
Pronouns: The words one uses to refer to themselves (e.g. he, she, his, hers, they, xe, xem, xyr, etc.)

[...snip...]

Trans* students will be addressed by the names and pronouns that corresponds to their gender identity they prefer to use.
posted by and they trembled before her fury at 10:31 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


Are there any best practices for medical professionals written by LGBT individuals on how to tell the difference between gender nonconforming kids who are struggling with their sexuality and wishing they were the opposite gender so that they would be heterosexual and "normal," and from actual trans kids?

Yes and no... The stigma associated with being trans is much greater than the stigma associated with being gay, so in some sense it's hard to imagine that being a thing except when you're talking about small children. (Who might think "I want to marry person [of same gender], therefore I must be [opposite gender]". When I was a kid, I thought the Pledge of Allegiance was an actual oath and solved that problem by crossing my fingers because of course that'd work. Kids think all sorts of weird things.) As far as I know, the gold standard in dealing with kids is to help them understand that it's okay to express their gender and themselves however they want and let them lead. (Which is pretty much how you want to raise any kid, really.*) There's no real medical intervention available or needed until puberty and adolescents tend to have much clearer gender identities than younger kids and are certainly better able to explain what they're feeling.

*Yes, there's a sometimes competing impulse to keep them safe. How you tell your kid it's okay to be gay when they learned the word gay by being teased in the first grade, I don't know.
posted by hoyland at 4:50 AM on June 20 [1 favorite]


Erlick, Eli & Longchamp, Dr. Carla — Transgender Youth: One Family’s Experience was on NPR here last night. I thought it was really good.
This edition of Radio Curious is the first of two conversations with Eli Erlick, a woman, who was born a male, and her mother Dr. Carla Longchamp.  

Eli Erlick is the Founder and Executive Director of Trans Student Equality Resource, based in San Francisco, California and a student at Pitzer College in Claremont, California.  Dr. Carla Longchamp is a family physician in a rural northern California community.

Together they share their family’s experience when Eli realized that she was female, and her parent’s subsequent acceptance of who she is.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:41 AM on June 20


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