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Letter: Anti-gender neutral washroom talking points well-worn

While they may seem compassionate in nature they are nothing but thinly veiled bigotry

Anti-gender neutral washroom talking points well-worn

I would like to start by saying thank you for publishing my letter regarding gender neutral washrooms. I greatly appreciate you giving me this opportunity to have my voice heard. I would also like to say I truly enjoyed the main article and editorial piece that went along with it.

With my elation comes a feeling of great disappointment. I want to emphasize that I have taken a considerable amount of time to ensure this letter would come from a place of compassion and concern.

I’m not surprised by the opinions of those whose letters where formatted around mine. The talking points they used are all things I have heard a million times before when discussing the implementation of these types of washrooms. Supposed issues around increased sexual activity in washrooms resulting in increased teenage pregnancy, sexual assault, and increased urinary/bowel disorders amongst teens — while they may seem compassionate in nature they are nothing but thinly veiled bigotry.

The argument surrounding increased sexual activity is merited, but nothing is stopping kids from engaging in sexual acts as it stands. The signs on a washroom door have no regard for what acts take place behind it. I will not deny teenagers have sex, but saying that the implementation of a gender inclusive washroom system will cause a massive increase in sex amongst teens and a resultant pregnancy is narrow sighted, and assumes that all sexual acts will result in pregnancies. I work with youth on a regular basis and can say with confidence that they are knowledgeable in the practices of safer sex, consent, and sexuality. In saying that all teens are driven by their “raging” hormones is comical in a way, because a washroom is only one of many places sex acts take place. Perhaps some adults have forgotten what youth was like, or are driven by the misinformation they received from their own education on sex. While the concern is valid this doesn’t make it correct.

With regards to the arguments surrounding increased risk involving rape and sexual assault in gender neutral washrooms, I’ll say this again. A sign on a washroom will not stop a predatory individual from entering that space. Washrooms are most certainly not the one and only place these horrible acts of violence take place. The idea that these washrooms will result in an increase in sexual violence is indicative of an unspoken but false presumption that trans and non binary people are more likely to be sexual predators. While anyone is capable of being a sexual predator, statistically acts of sexual violence are more likely to be committed by cisgender men. I understand people’s anxieties as our society is plagued by rape culture and is traumatized because of it. As a trans women the risk of being sexually assaulted is always a fear in the back of my mind. Gender neutral washrooms are not the enemy in this struggle. Instead of making these accusations we need to be having conversations about patriarchy, misogyny and the institutions that enable people to commit acts of sexual violence.

My final point is more of a personal experience. The grade school I attended was in a town much like ours in northern Alberta. The school, as do many, had a binary washroom system. In the boys washroom one day I experienced an incident of bullying that left me terrified to use the washroom at school for a number of years. As a result I would spend a lot of time dehydrated and holding my bodily functions just so I could lessen the possibility of repeating that experience. That is why I cannot entertain this concern as legitimate. The main article very specially said the stalls in these new bathrooms will be very private will full length doors and walls. At this point in the discussion I have to question someone’s lack empathy, or ability to digest the material they are reading.

Perhaps you are aware as much as I about the very tenuous time people like myself are experiencing when our right to even exist as people is being called into question. The bigoted opinions and ill-informed rhetoric such as the ones published in Sept. 15’s paper are counter productive. While trans and non binary people are not the majority in Duncan’s community we are still very much a part of it. And we want the same thing as every other human: to feel safe and welcomed.

Arica Alder

Duncan

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