Amid Gretchen Diez’s harassment incident, should transgender people be allowed in women’s public restrooms?

August 20, 2019 - 6:26 PM
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transgender bathroom
Male and female public bathroom (Unsplash)

Some posts online are advocating for transgender people to be able to use women-only public restrooms following Gretchen Diez’ harassment incident at a mall in Quezon City made headlines.

It sparked calls for the immediate passage of the proposed Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Equality bill and respect for the rights of the members of the LGBT+ community, particularly transgender people’s choice of which restroom to use.

However, some male lawmakers expressed concerns on the safety of females around the LGBT+ community.

A certain Kylie Landingin Maming shared a photo of five transwomen in a men’s restroom to mock men who are uneasy with their presence.

Maming posted this on August 15 and had since made rounds 13,000 times.

Meanwhile, a Facebook page called Biyahero posted a question on whether or not women are comfortable if transgender men or women use their restrooms.

Posted by Biyahero on Thursday, August 15, 2019

It gathered mostly positive responses and perceived they are safer there rather than opting the men’s restrooms.

“A big yes! Babastusin pa sila sa cr ng lalake at mamaliitin. Mas safe sila samin,” one of the comments said.

Meanwhile, others noted that some establishments actually have shared bathrooms for male and female customers.

“Naku pwede nman bakit hindi. Sa ibang restaurants nga common ang CR iisa lang ang sa boys and girls bakit gumagamit parin?” another user commented.

Twitter user @atty_lp shared that a man who dresses up as a woman to commit perverted actions is not a transgender.

“Hindi ‘transgender’ ang tawag sa lalake na nagdadamit pambabae para lang makapamboso sa mga palikurang pambabae. Manyakis ang tawag sa mga hinayupak na yan,” he tweeted.

Early this August, Diez shared video clips and posts detailing how she was harassed, arrested and detained just after her choice of restroom to use became an issue to the mall personnel of Farmer’s Plaza in Quezon City.

This became a hot topic after widespread criticisms from the LGBT+ community and advocates of their rights, such as Sen. Risa Hontiveros, against the mall.

1-PACMAN party-list Rep. Eric Pineda suggested that establishments should just put up separate restrooms for them.

However, Diez said that a third restroom does not really help fight discrimination among Filipinos.

“It’s not about changing the establishment or the infrastructure. It’s about changing the mindset of the people,” she said.

No recorded threat

The debate on transgender rights have also been widely talked about in the United States.

An analysis from CNN showed that states who welcomed transgender people’s preferences for public bathrooms found no reported risks for either men or women.

As of 2017, the report covered 19 states, the District of Columbia and 200 municipalities that have anti-discrimination laws and ordinances on transgender people’s use of toilets.

“Anti-discrimination protections covering gender identity have been around for years, and there is no evidence they lead to attacks in public facilities,” the report said.

What was prevalent were cases of assault and being denied of access of transgender people in these public spaces, according to a survey cited.

Meanwhile, another study found that transgender teenagers are more at risk of sexual assault in schools with bathroom restrictions that identified to their sexual identities at birth.

Transgender teenagers have a 36% reported being victims of sexual assault, which was higher than 25.9% of non-transgender adolescents.

The study was only based in the United States and covered 3,673 adolescents who responded to an online survey early this 2019.