Restricted spaces: disability issues

I get things wrong. So does everyone.

That’s why I prefer not to leap down the throat of people the first time they make a mistake: if its honest mistake, then a gentle explanation of how they got something wrong usuallly suffices.

If they repeat the “mistake”, then it starts to look like something else. Thoughtlessness… or deliberate provocation.

That’s one reason I got pissed off with the bloke today: I asked him very nicely, once, not to mis-gender. That got a sort of shrug and “whatever” – and a repetition, several times over, of “he” and “him”. And even after I said that the conversation stopped then and there if he did that again, he still managed one “him” in the middle of what followed.

Still…it subsided.

But in reading responses today on using disabled facilities, it may be that I have got this one totally wrong. Early days, a good friend who is well versed in disability action and campaigning, as well as direct experience of trans issues, talked to me about issues associated with going to the loo.

As I quickly discovered, this is a sore point for those transitioning. You either learn to hold it. Take your life in your hands by running for the cover of the loo pertaining to your birth gender. Or take the plunge and use the facilities appropriate to hwo you identify.

The first felt impractical: there is no way I would ever have considered the second; and so very early on, at a time when such ideas were still quite terrifying, I decided I had to use the female facilities.

In the end, it was no big deal. I mean, you don’t actually SEE anything in there. On the whole, you get to use a much less smellier better kept facility…and the mirrors are decent. But its far less intimate than the thought itself.

Meanwhile, though, friend had suggested an alternative. A number of trans friends also suggested the same alternative. Which is to opt for the disabled loos when in dire need.

I admit: I did so on a couple of occasions. But I very quickly decided that was a bad idea. From a purely selfish point of view, it had nothing to do with transitioning.

It would have been like wearing female clothes the whole time – and just staying at home all day. So you can count my breach of protocol on that front on the fingers of one hand. Or fewer.

Today, therefore, when that suggestion came back up – briefly – from the centre manager in relation to changing, I thought about it for all of two seconds, and said no. Either the leisure centre can accommodate me as a woman or it can’t – and if it can’t, there’s a bloody great discrimination case hurtling down the tracks toward it.

At the same time, someone else in the trans community suggested that I reverse that view. That I politely suggest back to the leisure centre that if they really felt anyone needed segregating, it was those who feel uncomfortable, rather than myself.

Twas in that spirit – of seeing how they felt if the boot was on the other foot – that the suggestion was made. But still, it did open my eyes – or rather the comment I have had back from Rebecca and at least one other has opened my eyes.

I really don’t think I’d appreciated the issue in play here.

Possibly, though, other trans women haven’t either.

So…in genuine not-sureness…what do people think? Is there a general sense amongst the trasn community that disabled facilities are a second best fallback? And is that trampling over someone else’s space?

I suspect that I have got this wrong…or at least, I have been thoughtless in my own approach to this. So I’m interested in views.



9 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    andrea said,

    how about using common sense as opposed to diktat.
    the disabled changing room in our local baths probably gets used as often as Harriet Harmans nether regions…using it as either a safe space or a space for avoiding conflict makes good common sense.
    I wouldn’t say the same about say the disabled toilet in a train station…that is likely to cause someone serious inconvenience.

    Actually I’ve never been in the disabled changing room….I hope there is a toilet in there as otherwise both toilets on the ground floor have difficult to open double door sets…so all those disabled people are probably having to wee in the pool.

  2. 2

    Disabled Person said,

    You still don’t get it, do you Andrea? It’s for DISABLED people, no one else. We have had to fight hard to have adapted spaces reserved for our needs. Every time a non-disabled person uses them it deprives those of who need the opportunity to use them when we need the, Why the hell should we have to wait for an able-bodied person – trans or cis I care not – to finish up and inconvenience us in the process? Trans people should not be transgressing on our spaces which we have PHYSICAL need for but fight for their right to use the spaces they are by law entitled to.

    • 3

      andrea said,

      what happens if you get to the baths and the one disable changing space already has a disabled person in it?

      oh yeah you have to wait…. so why not stretch that politenss to someone who may briefly need to use your hard won space for a different reason.

      That was kind of my point..that sometimes common sense and decency should over rule absolute diktat.

      Especially a space that rarely gets used… but then i also think that poor people should be able to sit in first class if its virtually empty as opposed to leaving the seats empty just in case they get a sudden rush.

  3. 4

    Disabled Person said,

    And another thing – if you don’t know whether the disabled changing space at your pool has a loo or not – the quickest way to find out would be to LOOK and see if there’s a designated disabled toilet in the building. If there isn’t, it’s a fair assumption it will be part of the disabled changing room.

    I’m disgusted that you assume disabled people routinely piss in swimming pools because of lack of facilities. You are unbelievably prejudiced against disabled people, it makes me sick to see your horrible views aired unchallenged on here, with your belief that able-bodied people have a right to use our spaces. Are we so inconvenient for you? Do you look away when you see one of us? Would you rather we’d been put down at birth? Perhaps you like us rounded up and gassed so all those disabled facilities we fought so hard for can be used by people who don’t actually need them.

    • 5

      andrea said,

      dunno…I think that just shows how seldom I invade disabled spaces 🙂

      I’m not assuming disabled people piss in pools… but i assume that if there are no toilets in a building most people would at least be tempted to have a crafty one in the pool in times of dire need.

      Just like i don’t really assume ALL disabled people use wheelchairs… but i guess there must be people who identify as disabled who DO use disabled spaces when they are perfectly capable of using the main changing rooms.

      (do you mind waiting for them if the disabled changing room is full)?

      And yeah actually…I get inconvenienced quite often by people with differing needs from myself…. you know what I do? I have patience…I have respect…I help if its wanted.

      I just don’t believe that disability is the biggest trump card in the pack. Society is far more complex than that.

  4. 6

    Disabled Person said,

    Keep displaying your ignorance of disability…

    There are 10 MILLION disabled people in the UK – that’s 18%, a significant minority. Quite probably the biggest minority group in the country.

    We are not all, by any stretch, in wheelchairs but that doesn’t mean we don’t have significant difficulties negotiating the built environment because of our health issues.

    We NEED those spaces such as special loos and changing rooms because those designed for the able-bodied don’t suit our needs.

    While I have patience waiting for another disabled person to finish up in “our” space, I have none for selfish people who use our adapted space because they are too lazy or impatient to use the regular facilities.

    It’s not about “identifying” as disabled – none of us choose to be disabled. We’d all rather be fit and healthy and able to use the same facilities as everyone else. I may not be in a wheelchair but I still have a disability that affects half a million people in the UK and I need the extra space provided in a disabled loo or changing room because I can’t manoeuvre safely in a standard loo and risk serious injury if I attempt to.

    So sorry if we inconvenience you because you think it’s ok for someone who doesn’t need our space to use it but get your selfish head out of your able-bodied arse and try seeing it from *our* point of view.

    Would you say to a man if the male changing room was full “oh just go and use the women’s one, no one will mind”? No if course you wouldn’t. So why are you telling everyone it’s ok to invade the adapted space that we fought for as a legal right so we can be full members of society?

    If you support Jane as you claim, then your prejudice against disabled people is doubly disgusting. At least Jane has had the grace to admit she’s misjudged things and is having a rethink. You have no such excuse for your ignorant, biased views.

  5. 7

    andrea said,

    I don’t actually care what the average percentage is…my point was in this instance that its an area with low numbers of most minorities. I guess the minimum level of provision is based on a national average and therefore you get places where the facilities are barely used.

    I dislike any sort of seperatist us and them attitude and the initial OP wasn’t about someone being too lazy or impatient it was about saving another person from the threat of violence.

    No its not ideal…nobody likes to be inconvenienced but surely if you arrived at the baths to be told there was someone using the disabled facilites becuase they had been threatened with violence in front of their child you wouldn’t begrudge them ten minutes in ‘your space’? Especially someone from another minority who becuase of their social phobia (brought about by their medical condition – gender dysphoria)?

    I wasn’t talking about ‘your space’ being used willy nilly…but for common sense on a case by case basis.

    As for self identifying…I thought that was pretty standard? You obviously identify as such. Some people with quite serious disabilities don’t identify as such. Its down to the individual isn’t it?

    I’m honestly curious…if someone with a visual impairment wanted to use the ‘disabled’ facilities would that be ok? Whereas I’ve definitely seen someone with a visual impairment using the main changing room?

    Is it up to you to decide?

    And how wrong you are…when the womens toilets are full I’m quite fine with going into the mens…and perfectly happy vice versa…I’d be happy with unisex changing rooms (after all the cubicles have doors)…I’d be perfectly happy with fully accessible changing rooms for all genders and different sized cubicles for mums with babies and those like yourself who need room to manoeuvre.

    What I hate is people presuming becuase i don’t toe a politically correct line of diktat
    that I must therefore hate you and want to gas you…. how bizarre.

    I just suggested ‘your space’ was utilised by someone else with a differing need from yourself.

    As I said right at the start…get over it.

  6. 8

    Disabled Person said,

    Get over yourself, you horrible ignorant prejudiced person. You continue to display profound ignorance about the needs of disabled people, even revel in it. People like you scare me because it’s people like you who turned a blind eye when the nazis rounded up the disabled, which they did before they went for the Jews. It’s your indifference to our difference that I find so frightening. I really don’t given a flying duck if you personally are ok with nipping into the gents for a wee when the ladies if full – you have choice and you don’t seem to get that disabled don’t have that luxury of choice. We simply can’t use any standard facilities. We fought hard to get our right to adapted facilities enshrined in law and you think it’s perfectly acceptable to trample all over that, you sick evil woman.

    • 9

      andrea said,

      you’re funny…you’ve blown a single instance of me suggesting (in a situation I know a lot more about than you) that common sense prevails…a little bit of give and take.

      And you blow it up into a full blown genocide.

      With me as the sick evil ignorant horrible prejudiced nazi…. methinks your intolerance of other peoples needs is rather more rabid than mine.

      And thats got to be my last post on the matter or Jane will probably start moderating in despair. 🙂

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