attacked in the loo

Michelle Rayner’s College Classmates Won’t Let Trans Students Pee In Peace

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.

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  • ron

    Another queer leftist agitator. She/he went looking for trouble and found it. You can’t identify as male and still retain the benefits of being female (women’s washroom).

  • Nathan

    @ron: Why not? The system is broken, he could be beaten or raped in a men’s washroom, but I suppose you think that’s just the price you pay.

  • Mike in Asheville

    @ No. 1

    Ron = another transgender bigot. Gay?/Straight? Ron went surfing for what and found what? You can’t surf a web site named “Queerty” and still retain anti-queer beliefs of being a bigot (queers’ website).

  • Matt

    @ron: What an absurd accusation. St. Thomas does not have gender neutral bathrooms in each of its buildings on campus. Fearing for his safety, he chose to use the female bathroom. Unfortunately that still resulted in violence. He was attempting to protect himself. I didn’t know that that was stereotypically “leftist”. Although I do know that victim-blaming is a move stereotypical to assholes.
    As an add on to the article, St. Thomas organized a rally against transphobia and approximately 100 people showed up.

  • Mirabel

    If this really happened, then Rayner should have called the police and should do so now. Frankly, this incident sounds really fake.

    A perfectly scripted hate crime, committed on-campus in broad daylight, but for which no report either to police, campus security or the administration was made. Add to that a unambiguous and widely abhorred epithet, supposedly uttered by a female student. These all fit the pattern of past fake accounts that have concocted in order to educate the campus population or to achieve some policy change. And sure enough, when Rayner finally did come forward two months after the alleged assault she had a policy change in mind, specifically requiring the university to maintain gender neutral bathrooms in each and every university building.

    I am not saying this definitely is a fake, and if it is genuine, then it needs to be pursued by law enforcement. But it doesn’t ring true. Fortunately, despite Rayner’s curious reluctance to pursue the matter formally, the university is investigating it on its own.

  • JAW

    OK… I’m confused….

    Michelle, is a female, transitioning to male. I think I read that Michelle, dresses and passes as a male.
    Do the people at school refer to Michelle and he or she?

    Michelle seems to be using the name given at birth, perhaps that is adding to the confusion. A few weeks ago, someone transitioning was upset that a professor used a birth name and not the name that will be used once the transition is complete.

    I can understand peoples concerns with Michelle using a fem name, but looking like a male. I think that I would have a hard time referring to Michelle as he. It almost sounds like Michelle could pass as a Drag King

  • Tom

    I think the title of this article makes too much of a generalization. This wasn’t the entire student body that acted out in such a harsh manor. It was one student. So by saying “classmates” makes it look like it was a group of STU students. Thus giving us a bad reputation at St. Thomas. On the other hand, where there was one person that acted with violence, Michelle has hundreds of supporters here at STU acting out in positive ways and advocating for equal rights. So yes, something bad has come from this. But there has also been an outpour of support for her. This was one horrible incident, but generalizing it as happening to all Trans Gendered students by all classmates is a horrible accusation.

  • Sid

    Ron, using a washroom is not looking for trouble. If someone is excreting in the same room as me, I don’t want to know anything about them—as long as they don’t come bother me, I’d rather just politely pretend they don’t exist. The woman who assaulted Rayner was the one looking for trouble, whether Rayner was male, female, or a cyborg in a tutu.

  • gina


    “These all fit the pattern of past fake accounts that have concocted in order to educate the campus population or to achieve some policy change. ”

    Would you care to explain to what ‘past fake accounts’ you’re referring?

  • Matt

    @ron: First, I’m a gay men and a also a feminist; feminism didn’t stop in the 80s as the discrimination faced by women didn’t magically disappear in the 80s. Second, trans people know they its possible they might be harassed over their identity, just like we gay people do. We all try to reduce the risk of being attacked the best we can, like selecting safe places to be. Sometimes it doesn’t work, like in this case. Third, using the word “nazi” to describe feminists not only disrespects feminists, but the victims of the Nazi regime, including gay people. Fourth, I’m a Nova Scotian and I use “bathroom” and “washroom” interchangeably. I wasn’t aware there was a national rule, not that it matters for this discussion, if you want to call my reply to your incoherent and mean statements a discussion.

  • Matt

    @Matt: Correction, it should read “I’m a gay man”.

  • ewe

    It’s a real shame no police report and criminal charge against the person responsible for an assault was not filed.

  • ewe

    @ron: ron: suck my cock and then lick my twat. Someone attempting to relieve themself is not the definition of a queer leftist agitator.

  • Matt

    @Matt: and all the other typos … never rage and type, kids.

  • kay

    To the people who say that this story is fake/that Michelle is just trying to get attention:

    Speaking as an androgynous-looking queer (I’m not trans), I can tell you that most places do NOT have gender neutral washrooms. I live in Toronto, Canada (big city, hosts a huge Pride Parade every year)and I can tell you that it’s hard to find a gender neutral washroom sometimes. There were a few on my university campus, but sometimes, I literally had to walk 10 minutes out of my way to access one.

    Obviously it was really inconvenient (I mean, if you really have to go, or if you’re in the middle of a lecture, it’s a huge pain). I don’t identify as trans and I’m fine with the way I look; I don’t care if I look androgynous because that’s just the way nature made me but I’m skinnny and I like wearing “gender neutral clothes” like straight-leg jeans and button-up shirts so I guess it makes it hard for people to figure out what I am, but it was a hassle going into a gendered washroom and having people ask me why I was there, or say nasty things to me, so I opted for gender-neutral bathrooms.

    No doubt, I could just “avoid” this hassle by trying to dress/look more like my biological sex… but to me, that equates to having a homophobe tell a queer person to act/look/be straight so they don’t get bashed.

  • Ken S

    {sigh} This really isn’t how I’d have hoped to see my alma mater make it to the front page of my favourite gay blog.

    To all the smug slandertards saying Michelle is just doing this for attention or whatever, go fuck yourselves. I know Michelle from a couple of common circles we’re in and she isn’t some fame-seeking whore like that. She’s going public with this now to try and make people aware that only having gendered bathrooms creates problems- and sometimes even danger- for people who don’t comfortably fit into traditional, narrow gender models (transsexuals, intersexed people, and so on). And as long as we maintain gendered spaces like washrooms at all, if our society acknowledges that these people exist (which we do- we let people legally change their sex, and in Australia they’ve even allowed a citizen to legally identify as neither male nor female) then figuring out how to accommodate our newly-recognized legal categories.

  • rjp

    build single user restrooms to deal with these people — if you have a penis use the men’s room

  • Toni

    I don’t think anyone is saying that she is seeking attention. I think there is a concern that this may be an attempt to create an incident to spur a policy change. That policy change might be a good one, but it could never justify faking something like this.

    Put me down as unconvinced. I am not saying it is fake, but it seems pretty hard to believe that the female student would be so upset after she found out that this person was a biological female. And even if she did get upset, is it believable that she would punch her? Right there on campus where she could be identified? I don’t know many college girls who call people faggots and then punch them. That sounds like a guy’s behavior.

    The whole thing smells fishy.

  • CJ Maciejeski

    @Dave: How bout next time i have to shit i do it on your lawn? It’s not about attention, it’s about having to take a shit. And when you have gendered bathrooms and ONLY gendered bathrooms, it is a problem. I use women’s rooms, but there is always the risk i might run afowl of LAWS about what sort of excretory organs a room allows. Or run afowl of rednecks with lots of vocal and potentially fist-backed opinions about my right to BE, given a small private place with lots of hard surfaces.

    You, you just get to take a shit. I have to think about this sort of thing every day. Frankly, i think the idea of gendered bathrooms is silly. Pervs who are going to invade your private shit space are NOT gonna be stopped by a little sign by a door. It’s not a place to converse. It’s not a place to have to justify gender expression.

    It’s a place to shit.

    And everyone deserves the right to shit in peace.

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