That's not really the point of this piece though. The icing on the cake - no, the cherry on top of the icing on the cake - came on Monday morning in the form of an email from a friend of mine. I thought I'd escaped The Toilet Issue because I am lucky enough to work for an extremely enlightened employer and my colleagues have some of the cleverest and most interesting people I have ever worked with among them but no, it seems some of them are concerned about the Man in the Ladies Menace.
|A typical scene in the ladies' loo, yesterday.|
I have to say, I'm disappointed in whoever they are. I'm assuming they're a minority as my direct colleagues have all been extremely supportive. However I'm guessing they are also ignorant. Uncharacteristically so it seems for an institution famous worldwide for numbering some of the most well-educated people on the planet among its staff, but if the dunce's cap fits then I guess they'd better wear it.
So for the benefit of my less enlightened colleagues I'm going to open the lid on that holy of holies unknown to half the world: the ladies' loo. I think those who haven't been in a ladies loo imagine it to be like the scene depicted in Boticelli's Venus, but the reality is far more mundane. It's just a room with a load of sinks on one side and a row of toilet stalls on the other. Cleaner than the men's room, more mirrors, and of course no urinals. When I use it there seems hardly ever to be anyone in there, I go to a stall, do my business in private, come out and wash my hands, then go on my way. If a colleague is there I don't stop or even make eye contact, I just do what I'm in there for.
That's it. Mundane, isn't it. Nothing to see here, move on.
I had a chat with my HR representative about this yesterday morning. UK law is unambiguous on the right of transgender people to use the loo appropriate to their presentation and she admitted she has received some approaches on the subject and had firmly appraised them of the law and sent them on their way. In fact the law does apply to toilets, but not on a gender basis. Under indecency law if anyone does anything inappropriate in either loo they're committing an offence. This protects all: men, women, cis, and trans alike from sexual predators and other miscreants, while allowing all to use the loo for its intended purpose.
I didn't expect to have to write this piece, I thought my colleagues weren't going to be like this. As I've said above, most of them aren't. I'm going to send this link around work and I hope some of the people I'm writing about read it and realise that as well as letting down my more enlightened colleagues they've turned a mundane part of everybody's day into a very anxious experience for me.
Final note: I'm on a short fuse at the moment and I'm going to moderate the living crap out of any unpleasant comments on this post. Not my normal policy but this time I have little tolerance for idiots.