We Just Need to Pee

by lizzfowler on March 16, 2015 - 8:33pm

In October 2014, the Canadian Senate passed Bill C-279, which added gender identity as a basis for hate crimes under the criminal code under the Canadian Human Rights Act. This is very progressive of us, and I was proud to be a Canadian in a time where we were becoming closer to equality for everyone. Senator Donald Plett changed my mind. Plett, of the Conservative Party, proposed an amendment that would exempt Bill C-279 from applying in gendered public facilities, such as washrooms or changing rooms.

In response to the proposed amendment, many members of the trans community in Canada and the USA are standing up for the fact they have as much right to use public facilities comfortably as cis-gender individuals.

Many trans people across North America have taken to social media to express how ridiculous Plett's amendment is. Many, Including Brae Carnes, have posted pictures of themselves in facilities that match only their biological sex given at birth. The photo of Brae Carnes standing in front of a wall of urinals while holding a sign reading: "Plett put me here" is one that is disturbing and sad to look at.

As transgender citizens in certain US states are facing a similar issue and have taken to social media in a similar way but with the hashtag #WeJustNeedToPee. 

To read more about Bill C-279 and Donald Plett: http://www.buzzfeed.com/lanesainty/trans-people-are-protesting-discriminatory-bathroom-laws?bffb&utm_term=4ldqphm#.aibodM0ZX


An organization working to improve the conditions of trans people in Montreal is ASTTEQ (Action Santé Transvesti(e)s & Transsexuel(le)s du Québec) who look to protect trans rights and prevent violence while also understanding the social problems that trans people face on a daily basis. Their website is here: http://www.astteq.org/index.html




I don't have specific ties to ASTTEQ, but because my mom is an Ally, she does. Because of this, I found out that one of the members of the organization spoke earlier last year when Quebec was amending changes to the treatment of transgendered people. The changes passed very quietly, so much so that I have trouble finding articles in searches, but essentially the changes helped trans people change their legal name and gender with more ease, as well as other minor changes improving access to treatment for younger transgendered kids. It was really interesting to hear that and I'm thankful for the work of the association since it helped me!

Another organisation that isn't fully entered on fighting for rights, but to some extent does is PFLAG. It's essentially a group of parents that help other parents cope with the sexual orientation/gender identity of their child. I also know some parents from this group that helped with the passing of the bill I mentioned above. You can find them at: www.pflagcanada.ca

First off I would like to say that i enjoyed reading your article. It was very interesting and i was not aware of this issue before reading this.

I am disappointed with Senator Plett’s attempt to exempt Bill C-279 from applying in gendered public facilities as well. Transgender people argue that they are assigned the wrong sexual organ at birth and that they should not be judged for this. For example, a gender woman would be as uncomfortable as a woman in a men’s washroom because the transgender woman does not feel like a man even though she has the men’s sexual organ biologically. So why should she be judged?

This moral dilemma of transgender people and the public washrooms applies to Deontological Ethics. According to Deontology, moral acts are either right or wrong on principle and that we have a duty to do good no matter what the consequences would be. We should act in a way that we reason to be the universal law. In this case, universal would be the fact that everyone should have equal rights no matter what. The consequences are not thought according to deontology. Thats why many public places are starting to add gender neutral washrooms to solve this issue and give everyone equal rights.

Very good and informative article that lets people know about recent activities that are going on in our country. In terms of applying an ethical theory, deontology would fit in best here. Deontologists believe that things are right or wrong depending on what kind of act is being committed. You need to determine the right kinds of acts and moral duties, not base it off consequences. If the consequences aren't being accounted for, then there's no reason to not make public bathrooms gender neutral.

I loved the post because it touched on an issue I was actually familiar with thanks to my Gendered World Views Class. However, it’s important not to ignore the very valid other side of this debate:
Because our society is so used to having two genders (female and male) since the beginning of civilizaiton, don’t you think it’s simply going to be a matter of time before we get used to having gender neutral bathrooms? I totally understand the “#WeJustNeedToPee” concept, since I definitely believe that the majority of cisgender people (“people whose gender identity reflects the genitalia that they were born with” Waurechen powerpoint) are essentially refusing to accept trans people as people. However, I think that the majority of the determined population, such as yourself, aren’t being patient enough and are just expecting change to happen overnight. The cause of the invented hashtag can’t be any reason other then the fact that people obviously need time to get used to new norms. For example, many girls (or boys) just haven’t gotten the opportunity to feel comfortable with another girl (or boy) in the bathroom that was biologically born a boy (or a girl). The integration of women in universities, the change from most single-sex to co-ed schools… it all took time. Therefore, there’s no need to get mad at someone (such as Senator Donald Plett) who just hasn’t had the proper exposure or understanding of this issue yet, as it’s a fairly new concept and it’s definitely not their fault that they’re used to seeing and being with people that look and act EXACTLY like them in public washrooms.
This link proves how people, at least for now, are still clearly uncomfortable with the concept. In 40 years or so, (thanks to #WeJustNeedToPee, and other hashtags), Ted Cruz probably won’t even be able to say what he said because trans people will finally have the right to choose the appropriate bathroom for their gender.