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Oxford college rejects trans bathrooms

An Oxford University college has voted down "gender neutral" toilets and refused to open their bathrooms to transgenders over fears it would make women uncomfortable.

Published: November 29, 2017, 9:26 am

    Somerville College – where former Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher had also studied – rejected a motion last week because it would lead to “harassment” by males.

    Students called unisex bathrooms “awkward” with forced “uncomfortable encounters” with the “other gender”.

    The college’s LGBTQ officer, Eilidh Wilson, had proposed “gender neutral toilet with urinals” because Somerville should recognise “non-binary people” everywhere even though they are a miniscule minority.

    Similar campaigns for unisex toilets have been successful at the Universities of Lancaster, Hull, Northampton and St Andrew’s while Oxford’s Student Union has introduced “trans-friendly” pronouns such as a “ze”.

    According to the minutes from the meeting, seen by The Telegraph, students noted: “There will be a lot of girls that feel uncomfortable with men being able to come into the toilet.

    “Many women have had experiences of harassment and would feel uncomfortable with this, probably a higher percentage of people than those who want a gender neutral toilet. [The] harassment issue would affect more people.”

    A secret ballot was also called, because it was “very easy in a public ballot for genuine concerns to be misinterpreted as being transphobic,” the students said.

    But one student in favour of making toilets unisex claimed that holding a secret vote actually “might facilitate transphobic views being voiced”.

    Wilson was angered by the dismissal of trans bathrooms and is reported to have shouted at a student that their concerns “edges on being heteronormative”.

    Meanwhile, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who had urged city dwellers to “get used to terrorism as part of daily life”,  announced plans for the construction of unisex toilets for “non-binary people”.

    Shops, leisure facilities and public areas will be called on to install trans toilets to “reflect the diversity of the city”.

    He is quoted in The Guardian, saying: “I have vowed to be a Mayor for all Londoners so I am determined to ensure that everyone has the ability to enjoy our great city to its fullest.

    “Toilets are a vital public service and can help to shape the experience of the capital for those who live here and for those visiting. We need a range of toilets that reflect the incredible diversity of this city – giving people the confidence to move around London with dignity.”

    LGBT charity Stonewall welcomed the move, calling it a “powerful demonstration of acceptance that has benefits for everyone”.

    They called the announcement “symbolic”. By introducing trans toilets, “planners can show that London is a city that cherishes its diverse population”.

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