Week 8 – Meeting

This week we decided to focus mostly on finding a creative framework for the presentation.
We came up with the idea of creating a court transcript inspiring ourselves from other cases and especially Coy’s.
We said we could use our script as quotes and present scholars’ arguments based on our readings as responses to the jury.

We then thought at this creative option in terms of methods. Fictionalising the case would enable us to fill the gap of what a real court would have missed. Also, we decided to base our court case on the story of a trans girl who is no more allowed to use the girls’ bathroom. We chose to focus on the debate surrounding the access to toilets for trans because we already had many readings on that topic, and it was also a key theme of the documentary Growing Up Coy. We also made the decision to fictionalise our story around a trans girl who sees her access restricted to women’s bathroom since it seems to pose a problem to a broader majority when someone with male genitals uses women’s bathroom than when it is the other way around.

Plus, we said it could be interesting to imagine that the school always thought of the kid from our case as a girl, and just recently realised that she had male genitals. It would create a clear contrast from Coy’s story whose parents had first registered their child at school as a boy. In that sense, our case would highlight the gender fluidity of a child whose sexual anatomy is not yet fully developed (see The Theory and Practice of Childhood: Interrogating Childhood as a Technology of Power – J. Breslow, 2016). We also discussed whether we should specify if the kid of our story is willing to do a sex reassignment surgery when an adult or not.

Finally, we ask ourselves how our presentation would be displayed: Would we shoot a short video where we could see the different opinions of the jury? Would we be the jury of our own case or would we ask other students to join our project? Would we only show on the powerpoint some quotes from the brief we created and directly react from them? By the end of the session, we did not come up with a clear answer, and we will have to decide on that next week.

Our task for next week: write a 200-word text narrating the story from which our case will be based on, and share it on the google drive. Think about the circumstances of the case, the school and the family’s reactions, the specific characteristics of the child, the request made by the plaintiff, etc.

Some readings on Public Bathrooms and Trans Identity

  • Which gender is more concerned about transgender women in female bathrooms? – Rebecca Stones (2017)
    • ” The presence of a transgender person in a public bathroom that matches their gender identity may be viewed as crossing a societal boundary, and can cause other bathroom users to question which other boundaries that transgender person might cross, raising questions of safety and privacy.”
  • Trans subjectivity and the spatial monolingualism of public toilets – C. Nirta (2014)
    • ” The built environment and the organisation of public spaces reflect the normative notions of male and females “
    • ” Recent scholarship has focused on public toilets in relation to sex-segregation and accessibility, highlighting issues of citizenship, social justice and social inclusion.”
    • ” The two-dimensional spatial configuration of public toilets has over the years remained unaltered: they reflect and shape the binary division between men and women in everyday’s urban experience on both a personal and public level. “
    • ” public toilets are important sites for the reinforcement of gender roles, sexuality and power relations”
    • ” these facilities were initially only designed for men, which limited women’s presence and mobility within the urban space. It was not until the first decade of 1900 that a fully functioning public lavatory for women was first introduced in London after many years of opposition by local inhabitants who claimed that women would only leave their homes for short walks within their neighbourhoods and therefore there was no need for such places.”
    • ” Trans subjectivities that do not identify with ‘Ladies’ or ‘Gents’ are then constantly mediating their identity to fit into the public space which, as it appears, is only public for those who conform to its rigid shape. ”
  • Public bathrooms are gender identity battlefields. What if we just do it right? – Simona Castricum (2018)
    • “The familiar signage silhouettes of male and female that mark our public bathrooms reduce gender identity down to our bodies and clothing. Not only do they reinforce outdated gender stereotypes, they erase non-binary people “
    • The Trans Pathways project – a 2016 survey by Telethon Kids Institute of gender nonconforming people aged 14-25 years – revealed 48% of those surveyed were non-binary. “
    • Need to create INCLUSIVE space
    • “The common assertion that gender non-conforming people who use bathrooms present a threat to the personal safety of cisgender people is rubbish. To confront the realities of this debate, and more importantly the violence enacted upon gender non-conforming people in these spaces, one only has to look at the disturbing incident in a Los Angeles Denny’s restaurant in May 2018, where a former US Republican candidate filmed herself abusing a transgender woman using a female toilet as she was evicted by security.”
  • Supporting transgender young people – Guidance for schools in Scotland (2017)
    • ” Because of being uncomfortable about using school toilets, some transgender young people resort to going home to use the toilet, or they refuse to drink during the school day. This has obvious implications for their health and wellbeing, as well as their attendance and attainment. “
    • ” There is no law in Scotland, or in the UK, which states that only people assigned male at birth can use men’s toilets and changing rooms, or that only people assigned female can use women’s toilets and changing rooms. Discrimination case law has established that transgender people who have started living in accordance with their gender identity must not be banned from using the facilities matching their gender identity. “
  • The Transgender Bathroom Debate and the Looming Title IX Crisis – Jeannie Suk Gersen (2016)
    • ” a push to make those spaces open to all genders comes up uneasily against feelings of female sexual vulnerability and their effect on an equal education or workplace. To make things more complicated, the risk of sexual assault and harassment of transgender females in male bathrooms is a salient reason for providing access to bathrooms according to gender identity, while many worry about transgender males being sexually bullied in male bathrooms. ” –> ” The common denominator in all of these scenarios is fear of attacks and harassment carried out by males—not fear of transgender people “
  • Everything You Need to Know About the Debate Over Transgender People and Bathrooms –  KATY STEINMETZ  (2015)
    • ” In a study from UCLA’s Williams Institute, nearly 70% of transgender people said they had experienced verbal harassment in a situation involving gender-segregated bathrooms, while nearly 10% reported physical assault.” 
  • Gendered Restrooms and Minority Stress: The Public Regulation of Gender and its Impact on Transgender People’s Lives – Jody L. Herman
    • ” The concept of two separate and opposing genders – men and women – is entrenched in our society and reflected in our built environment. “
    • ” Gender-segregated facilities -> serve to determine who is and is not allowed to use a particular space” –> could be linked to the notion of the right to the city?
    • ” In the largest survey of trans people to date, transgender and gender non-conforming people reported being fired due to anti-transgender bias (26%), being harassed (78%) and physically assaulted (35%) at school, suffering double the rate of unemployment, and attempting suicide at alarming rates (41%) (Grant et al. 2011).”
    • ” In Queering Bathrooms: Gender, Sexuality, and the Hygienic Imagination, sociologist Sheila Cavanagh presents findings from 100 interviews with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people on their thoughts and experiences regarding public restrooms (2010)”
    • ” The survey assessed people’s experiences accessing or using gender-segregated public restrooms by asking specifically about denial of access to facilities, verbal harassment, and physical assault. Overall, 65 respondents (70 percent) reported experiencing one or more of these problems. Eighteen percent of respondents have been denied access to a gender-segregated public restroom, while 68 percent have experienced some sort of verbal harassment and 9 percent have experienced some form of physical assault when accessing or using gender-segregated public restrooms. “
    • ” Thirty-one respondents currently attend or have attended school in Washington, DC. Forty-two percent of these respondents reported being denied access to and/or verbally harassed in restrooms at their school in DC. Ten percent of the 31 respondents reported that incidents of denied access to and/or verbal harassment in restrooms negatively impacted their education in some way. One respondent had excessive absences due to problems with using restroom facilities. Another respondent reported that problems with restrooms caused poor performance as well as excessive absences. One former DC student reported that she had performed poorly in school and had to change schools; she finally dropped out of school due to problems with restrooms. “
    • ” This situation distracted him in class both because of his need to remain continent in the face of physical discomfort and his anxiety about finding an available restroom at the end of the class period”
    • ” Problems or expectation of problems with gender-segregated public facilities can impact a person’s participation in public life, causing him or her to refrain from going to public places or attending public events. “
    • ” In considering the role gender segregation plays in our environment, we should consider whether gender segregation is necessary to organize our public spaces. “
  • I just add here an extract from the movie Hidden Figures that shows well the anxiety and social injustice surrounding the segregation of public toilets. Of course, in the video, it is about segregation between black people and white people in the USA, but I thought it resonated pretty well with our case-study.

Toxic Masculinity

About toxic masculinity:

  • The Celluloid Closet (1995): A documentary that could be interesting to watch. It is about the depiction of homosexuals throughout film history.
  • https://youtu.be/Gha3kEECqUk : An interesting short video about toxic masculinity.
  • https://www.ted.com/talks/justin_baldoni_why_i_m_done_trying_to_be_man_enough/transcript : TED Talk, Justin Baldoni “Why I’m done trying to be ‘man enough'”

Essay Abstract

My essay was written on the sub-theme of conflict with a basis in the discipline of Geography. I chose to examine to what extent the Parisian subway is a public space, in the sense that it welcomes every individual equally. To do so, I talked about gendered spaces, and how women do not always have the same right to the city as men, or in this case the same right to use the tube. The case-study highlighted a three-dimensional conflict in the use of the Parisian subway: a conflict in the use of the concept of public space to talk about the Parisian underground; a conflict between men and women in their use of the subway; and an internal conflict in women’s head when choosing to use public transports.