Eloise Stonborough has opened up about the assault she has faced as the Government launch a consultation into public toilets
BY SOPHIE GRIFFITHS
Hostility towards butch lesbians in public bathrooms has only been growing over the last few years, and this hostility goes hand in hand with the belief that transgender and gender-diverse people are making toilets an unsafe space. In recent years, public toilets have been at the centre of heated debates around trans rights, with attempts to police who can and can’t access certain spaces.
Trans individuals have their right to use a toilet according to their gender and are protected under the Equality Act, but some “gender-critical thinkers” have attempted to ban the transgender community’s access to women’s toilets.
Now, the government is in the process of carrying out a consultation into the provision of public toilets for all individuals as gender critical campaigners urge the Government to “protect single-sex spaces”.
Speaking to iNews, Eloise Stonborough, Associate Director of Policy and Research at Stonewall, has spoken up about the threats and assault she faces on a frequent basis due to the fact she presents and identifies as a butch lesbian.
In the interview she says that she is “challenged on using a woman’s toilet roughly every one in three times she uses a public facility, with the attacks increasing significantly over the last two years.”
She explained: “I think there’s been tens of times someone has questioned me using the women’s toilet, and ten of those experiences have been particularly frighting – and they’re just the ones I can remember.”
“I have developed behaviours to minimise the risk of going into a toilet and facing abuse. If I’m going into a public shared toilet rather than a single store, I’ll often try and bring my girlfriend with me or a friend with me, someone who will clarify my gender by standing next to me.”
In 2018, Stonewall even reported that almost half of trans people don’t feel comfortable using public toilets. Revealing the countless times she has been verbally abused simply for using public bathrooms as a butch presenting lesbian, Eloise recalls times where she has been called a man, a pervert and challenged about her gender by others.
The Government consultation brought forward by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will address the shortage of accessible toilets and has called upon members of the public to submit their opinions by 29 January.
It reads: “The review aims to address this by considering the ratio of female toilets needed versus the number for men, given the need for women to always use cubicles. It would also take into account the needs of all members of the community, to ensure there is a fair provision of accessible and gender-neutral toilets.”
“Over recent years there has also been a trend towards replacing female only facilities with ‘gender neutral’ toilets – something that has caused concern and is against legislation where public authorities have a duty to provide safe spaces for women in lavatories in buildings.”
If you, like us here at DIVA, believe that there should be more accessible facilities for gender non-conforming people and trans individuals, please submit your thoughts on this issue via the consultation here.
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