When you go to a public place which washroom do you use? Men use men’s and women use women’s, simple isn’t it?
Well, the transgender community has other things to think about when going to use a washroom: Whether I should go in the one I think I should or in the one people think I would? Or should I not go at all as it will save the struggle at least?
Their bathroom struggle is quite real. Imagine a world where I can’t use a particular washroom because I don’t conform to the gender that is so easily placed on a board outside a washroom.
3 years have passed since the NALSA judgment and we still have not been able to implement it well. The 2014 SC verdict had included a directive for separate toilets for transgender individuals in public places including hospitals.
Only Mysore and Bhopal have been able to do so till now. And I can’t even begin to imagine the plight of the trans community because of the slow process.
But of course in a country where 40% of the population still openly defecates having a separate toilet for transgenders is a far-fetched dream.
The question is: Do we have to build ‘a toilet’ before we build ‘the toilet’?
Sanitation is a fundamental right
Under the ever-expanding right to life guaranteed by Article 21, right to sanitation is indeed a fundamental right and the state must ensure that everything is done in this context.
Lack of toilets and the problem of open defecation don’t mean the state can take away the right of the transgender community to have a separate public bathroom.
Not only do we have to work a lot on the problem of open defecation and build toilets but we also have to streamline the work done on the upper level to which we are trying ourselves to bring.
It is in this light that implementation of the NALSA judgment has to be done as expeditiously as possible.
Will Unisex toilets solve the purpose?
A unisex toilet or a gender-neutral toilet means a toilet which can be used by both a male and a female, hence it can be a sigh of relief for the trans community from those glares.
But if a toilet is used by everyone the chances of assaults are much higher and safety cannot be put at risk.
Also, studies reveal that most assaults toward the trans community occur in public places such as public restrooms.
What we need are exclusively separate bathrooms for the ‘third gender’.
But first we need the viewpoint of people to change:
The Ministry of Sanitation had issued guidelines to the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) stating that members of the third-gender community be allowed to use public toilet of their choice (men or woman), according to a report in Scroll.in.
This is also a very noteworthy move especially when the Donald Trump administration in the US recently revoked the earlier Obama led administration’s guidelines that allowed transgender students unrestricted access to bathrooms matching their gender identity.
Last year, The US state of North Carolina enacted a law in March which means people must use the toilet that matches the gender on their birth certificates and only those who had undergone a sex-reassignment surgery or were underway were protected i.e the transsexuals.
This is certainly a very anti-LGBTQ law and it is a great move by our government to not discriminate the third gender on these grounds.
But is it going to solve the problem? Will it wash away the stigma? Will people not stare at them? Will they not ask them questions?
And what will they reply, that I have a government report with me that says I can use whichever washroom I wish?
The answer is: the harm has already been done. The discrimination and disgrace is so evident.
The need for separate bathrooms arises from the fact that people won’t let other people live because they forget that after all, they are citizens too.
We need to sensitize people and make them aware. Our attitude must change if we want the world to be a better place to live in.
Image credits: Google Images
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