Just why are there SO many media articles about trans women and toilets?

Although it’s estimated that trans people make up only about 2% of the population, there seems to be a huge number of articles in the media about trans people. I wonder why?

The simple answer could be because we are prepared to read them. It’s just supply and demand after all? If we don’t read it, they won’t print it/put it online? And if they don’t do that, they don’t get paid.

Or is there an agenda of ‘divide and rule’, where we get so worked up about the issues allegedly caused by certain people (usually vulnerable people in minority groups), that we blame those people and totally ‘miss’ that really the injustices and horrors are committed by wealthy, influential people in power, those who could actually change things. Not enough jobs? Well it isn’t about resource management or training opportunities – there must be a minority group to blame. Waiting lists at the hospital? It must be a minority group ‘flooding’ the NHS, not that the NHS has been underfunded and treated like a business for decades.  You know the sort of thing – a big ‘expose’ on how refugees/asylum seekers/Black people/Asian people/trans people/Polish people…. are the REAL problem.

We could use our energy to query those with power and influence, but instead get tricked into in-fighting amongst each other, and blaming ‘easy targets’ who are vulnerable and are not actually the people depriving or damaging anyone.

The hatred and vitriol towards trans people is, like so many hatreds, entirely misplaced and based on publically touted misunderstandings which directly damage real people.

It is for all of us to ask the question as to whose agenda is being helped by this? It is certain that we are ‘being played’, but to what end?

Trans women are women. They are not a threat to other women in any particular way. Trans women think like women, because they are women. That they were born with male biology does not mean they are men pretending/wanting/trying to be women. Trans women are women, regardless of biology.  Trans women grew up with the brain of a girl, with a girls feelings and thoughts, but being treated as if they were a boy. This is really tough. Can you imagine growing up being, and feeling, totally misunderstood and misgendered by the people around you? People insisting you are other than you know yourself to be inside, as a person. (If this is you, there are some links at the end of this piece for support and info.)

Big media cases (such as the recent Forstater case*) whip up the public with click-bait headlines, intended to divide us. The headlines ask bizarre questions such as, ‘Do you want a man in the women’s toilets?’ Well, not particularly, no… but what has this to do with anything? There is no actual evidence that making it easier for all women to use the toilets labelled for women, would make this happen. I don’t know of any cases where a trans woman has gone through the process of transition, living as a woman, identifying as a woman, seeing doctors and psychologists and being tested and interrogated, just so they can go into women’s toilets to attack other women.

On this topic, it seems obvious but relevant to point out that people – any people – can actually go into the women’s toilet cubicles. The sign denoting the toilets are for female people, doesn’t actually offer ANY protection from entry by or attack from a predator, rapist or violent criminal. Nada. Nothing. It’s just a sign. That’s all it is. Personally I feel much safer in a single cubicle which can be used by any one person, and where the general populous are milling about outside – either in a shared handwash space, or just straight into public space. I can also live without the massive queue to the ladies toilets – shared gender neutral facilities would help reduce those queues!

The people who most enjoy putting stories in the press about trans women being such a danger to cis women, have an agenda. They may like you to think they are trying to protect you, but the threat is not trans women. Either they’re just printing/writing what they think will help them get paid. Or it’s more sinister and they want us, at grass roots, blaming each other, fragmenting our society, and keeping the rich, rich and in power. ‘Divide and rule’ has been used by people in power for centuries to control the general populous. Let us not be so foolish. Let us remember that if we pull together, and campaign, we can change the world – we could vote out the hatred and make a fairer world.

As a cis heterosexual woman, I am not afraid of or worried by trans women. Perhaps because I am blessed enough to know some? I know some trans men too and guess what – they are just… men. They vary like other people. The trans men I know are kind, decent, funny, caring, helpful blokes. Like the cis gendered men I choose to have in my life too. And the trans non-binary people in my life are also…you know… people… people I like, eat with, chat with, worship God with.

I do sympathise if you’ve believed what you see and hear in the media – if you haven’t actually met any trans people and read the nonsense in the media, it can seem very persuasive and convincing that there is a threat to all sorts. When we do meet people, the barrier and the ‘imaginary monster’ is destroyed. We discover that actually – people are just people – with their own thoughts and feelings, struggles and joys, quirks and interests. Which is why I’m encouraging us all to query those kinds of media reports and stories which suggest that certain people, who have actually done nothing wrong, are scary monsters we should fear.

If you do struggle with the idea of someone being trans, perhaps read up a bit (some suggestions at the end), and remind yourself that each person is a person. Regardless of what the media want you to believe, trans people are people – just people – of course trans people vary in character and sense of humour like everyone else – trans people are not necessarily all saints! But that’s because trans people are people.

Maybe, even if we don’t understand, and even if you have some reservations, we could just respect trans people as people and just decide to be kind. Frankly, trans people suffer enough without any of us adding to it. We could also decide to query the media article and the agenda for it, rather than querying the people who suffer because of those articles.

Like the rest of humanity, trans people need kindness and respect, and also compassion and support. Trans people are often coping with daily, yes DAILY, insults and violence. Around the world, hundreds of people are killed every year for being trans. People like my lovely colleagues and friends. Not for doing anything wrong or saying/doing the wrong thing or committing a crime – just because someone finds out they are trans and decides they should die for that.

Maybe we could be people who make the difference? who query the media? who support the real people in our communities? who give people the benefit of the doubt even if we don’t understand everything? who make safe space for people? who respect the journey of those who suffer and are determined? who offer respect and maybe even a cuppa, a biscuit and a chat?  

Let’s get more savvy and query the motives of the media. Let’s ask: who does it serve if I become afraid of people who pose no threat at all? why would I want to treat any person who has done me no harm, in a negative way just because of their identity?

And yes, given that trans people are only around 2% of the population, just WHY are there so many stories against trans people in the media?

It’s time to question the motives of the media, not the motives of trans women. To ask who benefits from the lies that instill fear and wish to divide us? and who would worry if we pulled together, campaigned, stopped blaming vulnerable people for the systems in which they also suffer, and made those who are actually responsible for problems, accountable.

  • Ruth Yorke, August 2021. Views are my own. Please write (kindly) and inform me if you notice any errors and I will review. I acknowledge that I still have much to learn. Thank you.

Helpful places to find more info:

https://www.stonewall.org.uk/truth-about-trans

https://www.glaad.org/transgender/resources

https://genderedintelligence.co.uk/

for help with word and terms: https://www.glaad.org/reference/transgender

image from Pixabay, copyright free, used with thanks.

*the outcome of the Forstater case should concern us all – deciding as it did (I summarise) that Forstater has the right to decide what gender someone has and treat them accordingly. Under this ruling, she can decide that I, as a cis gendered woman, am actually a man – she can then ask for me to be refused access to female spaces, persistently call me ‘he’, and if I appeal to the organisation, they can do the same. Far from making anyone safe, the ruling puts us all at risk.

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