Michelle Rayner, a FTM transgender student at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick, Canada, says that on “countless occasions I have been carded in public washrooms, pushed around at work, spit on, and labeled a freak, disgusting and morally void.” But I can’t imagine any of that “prepares” someone for being assaulted in a campus bathroom.
“Walking into the woman’s washroom at James Dunn Hall after class detonated an explosive altercation that occurred for no other reason than my presence was unwanted,” writes Ryaner about the attack that took place in September. “A fellow student was standing by the sink, watching my entrance; she verbally voiced her discontent of having a male enter the washroom designated for women. After my explanation that biologically I was female, I was called a ‘faggot’ and brought down to the lowest while punched in the lower lip before I could defend myself. Stumbling out of the door I unexplainable began apologizing to her essentially for what I am.”
That Ryaner, who identifies as biologically female and is “coming out as transgender,” even has to explain why she must choose between one bathroom and another is symptomatic of the larger problem. “After experiencing this type of humiliation, I have been asked why I insist on using the facility for women rather then men considering I am coming out as transgender,” she continues. ” It simply comes down to a basic question of safety rather than which gender I identify with; if an altercation occurs in a male washroom then I would be far more unlikely to defend myself than in a female facility. By having washrooms clearly marked by gender lines it becomes a safety issue for those who fall between, and after paying for an education there is a certain expectation of security of the person.”
Ryaner says she didn’t report the incident to police because she “didn’t want it to be about me, just this one student. This is a bigger deal than people actually realize.” Which, I’ve got to say, is the very reason these incidents must be reported. Without hard data, we are invisible.