US twisted knickers in the rest room

I am indebted to Catherine for drawing this one to my attention, though I fear I can add little to what has already been reported, which is that from having a policy on trans diversity that was broadly inclusive, university authorities in Pittsburgh’s fair (?) city have just turned decisively to the dark side.

The full story…which I fear rapidly sent me towards slumber with all the ins and outs of campus committees and petty politicking…is reported by student paper, the Pitt News.

That is followed by an editorial.

Go read if you have an attention span. (Today, I fear, I don’t).

Backward step for Pittsburgh

Bottom line, though, seems to be that previously, Pitt permitted individuals to make use of shower and rest room facilities on a case by case basis – and broadly in accordance with identified gender. Whereas now they would like students only to use said facilities on the basis of what it happens to say on their birth certificates.

Given that in some states, birth certificates are NEVER amended: in others, only amended post grs; and that in the US, grs tends to be a ferociously expensive procedure that is often put off til later in life; that means that from this week, the number of trans men and women using rest rooms in accordance with their identified gender is likely to be at or near nil.

As for the gender queer contingent…methinks if the university authorities got wind of them, they might explode.

Because, as Jane Feuer, chairperson of Pitt’s Anti-Discriminatory Policies Committee,put it: this “goes against old ways of thinking about sexuality”.

Mmmm. So it does. Though I am not going to jump up and down and condemn Ms Feuer too quickly. Reading between the lines it does look like she is one of the good guys, mostly bought into a progressive policy and doing her utmost to steer a conciliatory course between dinosaur and progressive tendencies in the University.

Missing the point

Still, there are some things coming out of this that I definitely take issue with: the first that gender-neutral all round is the best/ only/ obvious solution. Hmmm. That misses the point that some folk, both trans and non-trans PREFER binary loos.

So I’m happy for policies where gender neutral loos co-exist alongside binary ones…not sure that just going one route helps much/at all.

The other thing to emerge from this is not worthy of the powers that be…ever so cautious on behalf of the trans community…because, doncha know, if the poor dears use loos and shower facilities that are of the “wrong” gender, they might come in for abuse.

Whatever next? Will the Uni be urging the girls to wear long skirts, lest they, too, come in for some abuse in the summer time?

As the editorial rightly points out, this is victim shaming writ large and should have nothing to do with the debate. Not least, because I suspect no-one understands and evaluates risks in a range of everyday situations better than the individual directly involved in that situation. Using third party concern for that individual as grounds for denying rights they themselves are asking for – in any circumstance – is somewhere between patronising and disingenuous.

Overall, though, this just confirms for me something i keep happening on: that americans, by and large, seem to be far, far more exercised by bathroom goings on than large chunks of the rest of the world, being seized of a quite alarming tendency to link sexuality and toilet habits.

Which might just explains “Porky’s“!

jane xx


5 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    I read both the student article and the op editorial and the policy is neither offensive nor obtrusive. No transsexual that is pre SRS should shower in public facilities in the open with other girls. It is just plain wrong. This policy is handled on a case by case basis which is what Ohio State University did for me when I attended that fine school.

    One cannot make a blanket policy that always ANY transgender individual to shower in open public facilities with other girls if said individual has not had SRS. Any other policy is offensive to other girls. It does not preclude access after SRS.

    Any attempt to have a policy were SRS is not required to access showers that are open and public is silly and I actually know of no young transsexual that would want to do that.

    I have friends that are Professors at Pitt and the reason each student is handled on case by case basis is because every student is different and the situation is different if the student has had SRS and if they have not and anyone that says otherwise is foolish.

    There has not been any issues for any of the transsexuals students at Pitt to the best of my knowledge and to me that indicate3s the University is handling it correctly. A blanket policy that allows anyone self identifying as transgender unsupervised access to girls area when they have not completed SRS is silly.

    They do not deny access to toilets nor do they deny access to dorms. They are actually using a comprehensive but individually designed policy which is best for each transsexual or transgender identified student. Seems to be that kind of help is both kind and considerate. It is what Ohio State did for me and I have been eternally grateful for the compassion and understanding they showed me a while back.

  2. 2

    janefae said,

    Yes…but that’s not my reading of what the policy is now. Perhaps someone else can help me out, but from the pieces i have read and linked to here, the Uni policy WAS pretty much as you found helpful: but they have now shifted it to a policy that requires pretty much presentation of new birth certificate/gender recognition certificate.

    And its now a blanket policy as above, rather than a case by case one.

    jane xx

  3. 3


    I do not believe that is the case. If the birth certificate has been changed the student is fully accepted without question. If the birth certificate cannot be changed by state rules they handle that case individually and privately. The University of Pittsburgh is a very good University.

    They have not denied any transsexual access or what rights they should have. They are worried that someone that has not had SRS would shower in a girls facility in an open area while not having had SRS and I think that is reasonable.

    If they were preventing kids after SRS from access I would be outraged but that is not how I read it and I read both articles. I emailed a friend who teaches there but have not had a response.

    The University did state they handle each case on an individual basis and I find that reasonable. OSU could have made my life miserable but did not and I was pre-op. I was protected and I believe Pitt is at least trying to be protective with these kids because handling it on a case by case basis is certainly more compassionate than some blanket policy that specifies anyone identifying as transgender has the right to enter any women’s spaces before SRS.

    College students are particularly vulnerable and this does appear to be much ado about nothing.

    • 4

      catherinecc said,

      Elizabeth – The new policy also forbids trans people to use public bathrooms. It’s not only shower facilities, but any public, gendered location.

      Also, had you actually read the article, you would have clearly seen that while the old policy was “case by case” the new policy IS a blanket ban.

      Nice try with the “oh this isn’t such a big deal”

      • 5

        Actually the comment and detail provided in the op-ed piece are a bit misleading. The University still provides help on a case-by-case basis if the student asks for help which one would assume one would if pre-op. The odds of a girl born transsexual and not changing her birth certificate or even needing to provide it are nil after SRS.

        If the student has had SRS but the birth certificate has not been or cannot be changed the University would take care of that but why would a post operative women need to worry about that? Physically they are female.

        They do not require a birth certificate to register. All you want Catherine is more transgender progress where anyone regardless of status can claim girlhood and go anywhere they want on the University since they identify or claim to identify as female. Bathrooms, showers, dorms, etc.

        They are requiring that all girls be physically female to use female facilities which is how I look at it. Pitt might be one of the first Universities to finally wake up to the Transgender crap which has been spread worldwide. Maybe they figured out that most of them are transvestites and they are trying to be safe.

        Bathrooms work themselves out and almost always have. Kids get it about other kids even if they are pre-op.

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