Welfare issues at the centre of recent UGM motions

Student welfare was the central topic of the recent YUSU general meeting with particular emphasis being placed on several LGBT issues.

The meeting saw a wide variety of proposed motions. Of the most successful was the motion to improve data capture and gender options proposed by Peter Warner-Medley.

Part of the proposal resolved to ensure that all forms involved in data capture refer to ‘gender’ as opposed to ‘sex’. In the motion speech Warner-Medley said, “This is point-blank an invasion of privacy to ask for sex. This is asking what’s between our trousers; this is like putting on a form what cock size are you or how big is your penis. It is not fair.”

In the motion speech Warner Medley also raised the issue that all gender fields should be optional “because these are personal issues that might cause people distress.” If successful, the motion resolves the union to “make data capture always refer to ‘gender’ rather that ‘sex’, to make all gender fields optional, to provide… a choice of ‘other’ with an empty text box and ‘rather not say’ where possible.” The policy would come up for review after two years.

Another motion to be raised by Warner-Medley and to carry LGBT implications was the ‘Toilets For All’ motion. Elanin Vince, in the motion speech, said, “Gender Neutral Toilets are a highly important provision for LGBT students. Not everyone can use the standard “men’s” and “women’s” facilities and this is particularly so for those who identify under the “trans” umbrella.” If successful, the motion will “provide, in addition to gendered facilities, at least one gender-neutral toilet at all events where possible.”

Other student welfare issues were raised by Jason Rose who proposed the motion to provide greater support for students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities and Em Brownbill who proposed a motion in favour of supporting students’ rights to be identified by their preferred name.

The UGM can now be voted on online at http://www.yusu.org/ugm

173 comments

  1. I can see the point but on a practical basis will ‘gender-neutral’ toliets ever be used when such a small proportion of students judge themselves to be relevant to such a policy?

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  2. I may be wrong, and someone with more knowledge on the subject may correct me, but I think at other Universities, provision has been made simply by designating the disabled toilet as such

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  3. Or simply change the sign on the ladies toilets to designate as such – no actual changes will be needed…

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  4. I am sorry, but these motions are frankly ridiculous. Who is actually distressed when asked what their sex is? It is a simple question. Get over it. Using the same reasoning, I should challenge questionnaires asking for my heights, as I am not particularly gifted on this aspect.
    These are simply idiotic motions, promoted by people who have nothing better to do with their time. Liberalism is a great concept, as long as it is not abused. And this idea of taking offence for the most ridiculous of reasons is harrowing. Gender and sex mean the same thing. Look it up. Frankly, if one gets distressed when asked what their sex is, or cannot choose which bathroom to enter, then one needs counselling, not a change in the wording of questions in forms.

    A.

    P.S. These opinions are my own, and I do not express them from my position as an ISA officer.

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  5. “I am sorry, but these motions are frankly ridiculous”

    Aris, don’t comment on things you don’t understand completely. The LGBT issues are REAL issues that have affected LGBT individuals at the university – people DO get distressed when asked their sex. If someone appears male but is female then they will be insulted for going into the female bathroom. I don’t completely understand the issues but if people *are* suffering from these problems then they need addressing! Likewise I don’t understand the problems that people with learning disabilities face but I know enough of them who don’t feel that they have had enough support.

    I acknowledge that I just commented on something that I don’t understand completely, but I’m confident that what I’ve said is accurate. And of course, Aris, people that are hermaphroditical will fit into both categories but I doubt that you would suggest their ‘problem’ could be solved by ‘counselling’!

    In terms of what Scott said, I believe the idea is not what Chris has suggested, where we lump sum being trans into a disability but rather have toilets that are open to everyone. It is an idea that is commonplace across the UK as the problem itself is also commonplace. It’s just common decency to give everyone the right to use toilets in which they don’t feel threatened. There’s a chance that future ones will also have access for disabilities or baby changing units, I believe, but it’s still important that other people will also use the toilets. And from experiences of gender-neutral toilets, I would say that they are well-received and have few, if any, drawbacks.

    ((of course all my comments are mine alone and are not that of the Union. I wouldn’t speak in this medium on behalf of the Union))

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  6. I believe the idea is not what Chris has suggested, where we lump sum being trans into a disability

    No no no, that was not my point at all – I in no way meant to imply that being trans was in some way a disability. The point was that disabled toilets are already gender neutral, so it’s not a huge leap to simply make them the gender neutral facilities which the motion seeks.

    According to Wikipedia, this is what Bradford SU did: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unisex_bathroom.

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  7. 26 May ’09 at 5:36 pm

    Something Good 2009

    A. Catsambas, well said! This is just none-sense. I can’t believe we’re seeing at York what has gone on at other Universities like Manchester. When rubbish like neutral toilets becomes a reality, it makes me glad I’m off into the real world shortly. Also, what is Warner-Medley thinking? Gender is sex, sex is gender. Sex can be conceptual, it can be physical and definite. Make of it what you want. If you really don’t want to answer, then don’t. If you look like a male, but feel female – answer how you want.

    Britain was built by people taking the iniative and doing their damned best with what they had – not worrying how titles on forms make them feel! Is this really reflective of the educated, able people a supposedly leading University is producing?

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  8. 26 May ’09 at 5:56 pm

    Grumpy (Not Dopey)

    “Aris, don’t comment on things you don’t understand completely.”

    Jason, your arrogance is astounding, you comment on EVERYTHING no matter what the topic, you’re willing to spout your opinion on it!

    YUSU, Physics, Religion, Politics, Womens Issues, Mens Issues, Sports, Events, Racism, History of Africa to name but a few. Why not take a step back before lambasting people for doing the same thing…..

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  9. I’m sure the owners of the local worm cannery will barely be able to contain their excitement over the potential controversy we have here.

    Toilets needn’t be political. There’s no need to call it ‘gender neutral toilet’ or another PC name. A male/female combined sign would do. Or just the letters WC. We already have these in loads of places (probably through lack of space rather than political correctness).
    The issue I see with it is that we can’t change existing buildings. Maybe a petition to get a non-gender toilet for new buildings, or for signage on disabled toilets to show they’re not exclusively for wheelchair users. We have plenty of GNTs as it is, they just have a specific picture on the door. If people are offended that they have to use a disabled toilet, that says more about their attitude towards the disabled than the attitude of building planners who didn’t include a 3rd toilet.

    The name recognition seems fairly sensible, and as far as i’m aware you can have a shortened or family name on a certificate or official records as it stands.

    The data capture thing seems a bit pedantic though. Gender/sex… unless you’re a womens’ studies student you’ve probably never considered the difference. People do use them interchangeably. Although gender is probably more polite. Don’t get the cock size reference though. Making gender ‘optional’ is all well and good for some surveys but not others – what if i wanted to survey, for example, the differences between attitudes of men and women on abortion or condom use or women in the workplace. Would be a bit difficult if i wasn’t allowed to ask whether people were male or female.

    The debate over whether your sex is your gender, or whether you can be a woman with male hormones and genitals is always going to be controversial. Biology and Psychology clash – I just hope this doesn’t descent into the usual name calling (bigot, loony lefty, homophobe etc…) that often tarnishes these kind of debates in other universities.

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  10. ‘Aris, don’t comment on things you don’t understand completely.’

    followed by:

    ‘I don’t completely understand the issues but…’

    Being a we bit hypocritical Mr JR?

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  11. This is the most entertaining thing I’ve ever seen.

    “this is like putting on a form what cock size are you or how big is your penis. It is not fair”

    Amazing

    “It’s just common decency to give everyone the right to use toilets in which they don’t feel threatened”

    Amazing

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  12. In my opinion, this is simply what we call identity-politics.

    At the end of the day, every person in this world either owns a penis or a vagina. Not having any reproductive organ is probably enough of a justification to be allowed to use the disabled toilet.

    Now the reason we do not all share the same toilet is purely practical and is directly relevant to that part of our anatomy. It has nothing to do with gender constructs or any form of inherent transphobia from the part of society.

    Personally, I appreciate the fact that some people will not identify with their sex and I fully respect them for who they are. However, it is simply absurd to claim that the ‘offense’ that is caused to those people is so great that it demands such actions.

    Unless I am convinced that there is an actual need for that, I will be opposing this motion.

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  13. 26 May ’09 at 6:40 pm

    This is ridiculous!

    Quote Chris Northwood: “The point was that disabled toilets are already gender neutral, so it’s not a huge leap to simply make them the gender neutral facilities which the motion seeks.”

    Whaaa?!?!? Yes, they are already gender neutral, so what on earth are we passing a UGM Motion to do here? Change a sign on the door?!

    And seriously, changing the word ‘sex’ to ‘gender’?! Political correctness or whatever you’d call this is getting way out of hand!

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  14. 26 May ’09 at 6:44 pm

    Anti-Perversion

    As a Christian, I do not believe this concept of “transgender” exists, you were made as you were and you should not seek to change what you cannot. It’s perverted and no SU in the country (particuarly York) should entertain this kind of motion.

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  15. I’ve had a chat with one of my LGBT friends to clarify the GNT motion. Apparently the desire is to have a set of women’s toilets designated as GN for the event, if there are more than one set of women’s toilets available, and the disabled toilet would be a matter of last resort if there are no other facilities available.

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  16. What a load of rubbish. I don’t think I have read anything so ridiculous in my entire lifetime. Whatever idiot this “Warner-Medley” is, he should stop wasting the Union’s time with such outrageous motions.

    Whoever heard of ‘toilets for all’?! If you have a cock, you are a man. A vagina, then you’re a woman. What’s all this stuff about distress? Are you kidding me, what the hell is distressing about it? The only thinkg distressing about any of this is that there are warped idiots out there who truly believe this.

    Get real.

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  17. Political Correctness got way out of hand long before this. It’s basically a minority group making the majority of us conform to their sad ideas that would be laughed at in the real world.

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  18. 26 May ’09 at 7:23 pm

    Lloyd Sparkes

    Im with Dan Taylor and A. Catsambas, they are just petty and utter waste of time. If you cant decide male or female toilets, just use disabled toilets, they are empty 99% of the time.

    Lets not waste university money on this, when it could be better spent.

    “Invasion of Privacy” ROFL there not asking for a picture!

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  19. I have to echo a couple of others:

    “Aris, don’t comment on things you don’t understand completely” by Jason Rose. WTF???

    If Jason Rose only spoke about what he knew then he wouldn’t speak at all. Unless it was about the notion of speaking about things he didn’t know, which obviously he does know about.

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  20. Why is it that half the motions suggested are always more or less irrelevant to the general population? This is not what most people hoped for when they voted for representation.

    People in the LGBT community have made their choice to be part of a minority and I wish for the peace of everyone they would stand by that choice. It’s a shame that these very individuals who have the motivation to create this endless stream of unnecessary motions didn’t have the motivation to simply do nothing and stick with the SEX they were born with.

    Grow up.

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  21. I’m astounded at the narrow-minded and ill-informed comments on this page.

    Gender and sex are two separate concepts. One physiological and one psychological. Sex: binary; and gender a scale where we all fleet around in throughout our lives and throughout our different situations and relationships.

    This motion is brilliant and long overdue. Transexualism and transgender issues should not be seen as a problem for the few, but a reflection of a sophisticated culture moving towards an inclusive and accessible future for all.

    Some through personal and religious beliefs wish to retain sex specific toilets. Some do not feel that these categories cater for them and may make other users and themselves feel uncomfortable. Is it so much to ask that we cater for all? Three toilets? Is that too much to ask? If not three then why two?

    This isn’t about political correctness. This is about a very real issue that some of our staff and students face when wanting to empty their bladders, the most basic human and animal right. The attitudes displayed here are selfish and disgusting and will without doubt cause more people not to express what they are free to express: themselves.

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  22. 26 May ’09 at 9:05 pm

    James Stovold

    If somebody feels that they do not specifically belong to one gender, then who are we to decide that they need to do so in order to just go to the toilet. Peter Warner-Medley, as a very active member of LGBT, obviously deals with a lot more trans-related issues then anybody else is likely to, so saying that he is “wasting the Union’s time with such outrageous motions” is ridiculous, as all he’s asking for is a new sign on a couple of doors at events where the facilities are available.

    In terms of the sex/gender situation, if you believe there isn’t a difference between the two, then what difference does it make to you which is put down on a form?? Saying “Gender and sex mean the same thing. Look it up” is not particularly clever considering you clearly *haven’t* looked it up:

    ‘Sex’ is the anatomy you’re born with.

    ‘Gender’ is the way you behave and identify with people. For example, how you behave and identify as a boy or girl or otherwise, by social standards.

    If you wanted to survey the differing attitudes between men and women with regards to abortion, do you not think that their opinion might be affected by the fact that they aren’t defining specifically as male or female?? So by only specifying those two options, surely you’re restricting the final data set and not getting a balanced response.

    Please note these opinions are my own and do not reflect the views of my position as Langwith Tech Rep

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  23. “Some do not feel that these categories cater for them and may make other users and themselves feel uncomfortable. Is it so much to ask that we cater for all? Three toilets? Is that too much to ask? If not three then why two?”

    I think any reasonable person would suggest that in an ideal world we would have toilets that cater for everyone – but the fact of the matter is that we don’t live in an ideal world. We have limited resources and money, and with such a tiny minority of students being affected by this issue, surely it could be better spent elsewhere?

    A toilet is not a cheap construction, and requires maintenance. If it is going to lie largely unused then can we really justify the cost?

    “The attitudes displayed here are selfish and disgusting and will without doubt cause more people not to express what they are free to express: themselves.”

    Surely it is more selfish to demand that these facilities are provided for such a small minority of students? The time, effort and money could be spent on other issues affecting far more students.

    “Transexualism and transgender issues should not be seen as a problem for the few, but a reflection of a sophisticated culture moving towards an inclusive and accessible future for all.”

    Lets be honest here. It is a problem for the few.A sophisticated culture would be one that recognises that, rather than pushing for facilities which are likely to sit relatively unused.

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  24. I oppose the motion because I do not see what problem it solves, but I have to say that I am simply astounded at the amount of hateful nonsense that some people have come up with in this thread.

    ‘Anti-perversion’:

    We honestly do not care about what religion has to say on the issue of transgender people. If we did care about it, then perhaps the welfare team should stop giving out condoms, as they apparently spread AIDS.

    Gender dysphoria is a recognised psychiatric condition; no rational human being would be debating on whether it is socially or religiously ‘acceptable’ to suffer from it!

    What we are debating here is whether this proposal solves more problems than it creates. In my opinion, it does not. Your spiteful comments, however, have no place in this discussion so please stop trying to turn this debate into a transphobic rant.

    Dan: some manners wouldn’t hurt you either.

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  25. James, you are right, and I apologise for the gender/sex mistake. Still, my point stands. It is not a great difference, and people should not mind it. A sophisticated culture is not one whose members get offended by the simplest things. It is one whose members have the maturity to realise that a person can find offense if that person is looking for it.
    The problem is not that it would be a huge issue creating new toilets, but that doing so is stupid. People can choose which toilet they want to go to, simple as that.
    Political correctness is way out of hand. If you are member of a minority, it is your absolute right, but don’t be offended if the system works by the standards of the majority. There is no harm in a form asking for your sex.
    A.

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  26. The LGBT Officers aren’t asking for the entire student body to budge over for their fellow trans students. Passing these motions takes nothing away from anyone.

    GNTs are being asked for because they stop a trans student feeling they have to choose between a gender they don’t identify with and a gender they don’t yet resemble and may feel ostracised for choosing.

    Having forms which require gender to be declared, means asking trans students to stay in the closet or out themselves to the university, something which wouldn’t be asked of LGB students and shouldn’t be asked of trans students.

    Also most of these things were being worked on by LGBT committee with no controversy at all before the motions were proposed. Why is this all suddenly more than a procedural step to help student diversity in a few small but important ways?

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  27. “No no no, that was not my point at all – I in no way meant to imply that being trans was in some way a disability.”

    I understand, Chris, and I my intention was not to paint you as a bad-guy but rather to point out the issue in saying that trans people can simply use disabled toilets. If someone ‘normal’ used disabled toilets, they’d get odd looks as much as if they used the wrong-gender toilets and it’s a bit harsh. What A. Politician said is correct – you could just put WC on the front and leave it at that. It’s not a major issue.

    The fact that it has become such a debate is astounding. I understand that many Christians may not be tolerant of trans people because of their faith (though I personally would try to help people through life and let God do the judging) but people like Dan Taylor should stop being against it for no proper reason. If there’s no real difference between things now and things with a Female WC converted to an unlabeled WC then why go against it? And how is it political correctness?! Political correctness is saying “gender neutral toilets” instead of “tranny toilets” or something more along those lines; this is just about providing welfare for students that need it (which, I believe, is kind-of the point of YUSU).

    Anywho, at the end of the day, go and find some trans students and ask them whether they feel intimidated by these problems. Let them tell you what they think and vote accordingly.

    And to those insulting me: I made the comment in the second paragraph appropriately. I comment on less than a third/quarter of articles on Nouse and I do my research. I am not an expert in most fields but I don’t say that things are “ridiculous” when it could be making individuals feel bad – especially if I was a specific group’s welfare officer.

    On the topic of data collection; even though I am 100% satisfied with labeling myself as a straight male, I write “IRRELEVANT” across gender boxes on forms where it’s irrelevant. There’s no need to ask us for that information unless they’re about to do surgery on us so why would research agencies need it? And the university really should just be considerate to those with specific needs.

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  28. 26 May ’09 at 9:47 pm

    Aidan Brocklehurst

    Until someone discovers the Z chromosome I’m going to join the “this is ridiculous” camp.

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  29. “Passing these motions takes nothing away from anyone.”
    The fact that something is not actually harmful does not mean we should go ahead and do it anyway. It’s still stupid.
    As I’ve said, if a person feels so offended when asked for their sex on a form, changing the form won’t improve anything: that person will still obviously have identity issues, and that person should receive help (I really do not mean this in an offensive “deal-with-it” way, I honestly think that someone who gets offended by such a petty thing needs support).
    Jason, if someone feels bad with what I am saying, they need to change their attitude. People really should start taking less offense. Otherwise, neither I nor you should be allowed to say anything – there is always someone who will “feel bad”. This is political correctness way out of had. I sincerely hope this motion fails – I would be ashamed being part of a university that passes such motions.
    A.

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  30. You people supporting this: What planet are you on? When will you get over yourselves, come out of your bubble and enter the real world? What you are suggesting is utterly ridiculous. I feel ‘discriminated’ and ‘offended’ and all these 21st century PC ‘buzz-words’ pretty much every day. Can I have a ‘white, straight, male’ toilet please?

    Come on. When you lot get into employment (if you succeed where your predecessors have not) then you will recognise how the real world works. I am honestly still shocked that people find this credible.

    As for your post Jason, I hope you realise how silly you make yourself look. “Don’t comment on things you don’t know what you are talking about…” When in Rome, eh? Or is that offensive to gender-confused non-Italians?

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  31. I’m really disappointed by a lot of these comments. So the issue doesn’t affect you? Get over yourselves – as cis gendered people, the whole world is set up to make you feel comfortable in your gender expression. Do you really need to assert your privilege in this way? Because this issue has no direct bearing on your life, you think it’s ok to impose your views on people who do not share your uncomplicated worldview? Because you have no problems ticking the ‘M’ or ‘F’ box, you really think that no one else has the right to fall outside these options?

    My partner is trans, and has faced verbal and physical threats in toilets. When you need to pee, the last thing you want to do is hang around outside a toilet waiting for it to be empty in case some entitled douche inside it decides to appoint themselves the gender police, and tell you to get out. Public toilets are places where gender expression is rigidly policed, and butch women and feminine men are just as likely as trans people to be targeted.

    No one chooses to be born with the wrong genitalia. No one chooses a life of discrimination. No one wants to be hated for something that they did not choose and cannot change. To use your position as a member of the dominant social group to ensure that trans people remain marginalised and put in physical danger every single day is just wrong.

    Incidentally, our uni has unigendered toilets. Everyone uses them, I didn’t see anyone caring, and we all remain unscarred. If you don’t want to use unisex toilets, don’t. You have the privilege and luxury of making that choice. Some people don’t have that.

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  32. I’m sorry, but I don’t think people are born ‘in the wrong body’. Of course no-one chooses to be born with the ‘wrong genitalia’. Can you not see that these ideas are completely ludicrous and would only ever be taken serious in the political environment of a university campus?

    People get called names and ‘bullied’ (other people call it ‘growing up’) for many things. Personally, I feel the fact that there is no mens committee on YUSU deeply offensive and ‘victimising’ (cue buzz-words) but I don’t kick up a fuss about it.

    Seriously. Grow up and stop wasting our time and the money of YUSU.

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  33. 26 May ’09 at 10:39 pm

    James Stovold

    erm, Dan, if you feel that there should be a men’s committee, referring to article 10.9.1 of YUSUs constitution, all you need to do is to propose a motion, which requires quoracy of 2.45% and 2/3s majority to pass – so why don’t you set up the men’s committee, that’s the idea of the UGM.

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  34. I believe there should be no need for a Men’s, or a Women’s Committee for that matter, as the creation of these groups only seems to strengthen the percieved differences between men and women. If there was less of a focus on “masculinity” and “femininity” then issues such as GNTs would not cause such uproar, if there was less of a need to corform to gender confines, we could prehaps all be a little more accepting of one another.
    But that’s just what I think….

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  35. I agree with Aris and Dan, this is a complete and utter waste of time. Seriously. Get a hobby, join a society, play a musical instrument, play sport, just stop complaining for complaining’s sake.

    Luckily, I’ve got a solution for the ablution conundrum – put a load of “gender neutral” toilets in Halifax and let the “confused” weigh up the offence they are caused by gender specific toilets on the main campus against their need to relieve themselves.

    Job done.

    (My views are my own and have nothing to do with York Sport)

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  36. It has been suggested before. Same goes with converting Women’s Committee into a Gender Equality Committee or having a Male Rep on it. It has never happened though because people don’t want it enough. Go for it though; there’ll be at least some support. UGMs ftw.

    “Can you not see that these ideas are completely ludicrous and would only ever be taken serious in the political environment of a university campus?”

    http://inquirer.gn.apc.org/GDRights.html

    http://www.yogyakartaprinciples.org/principles_en.htm

    http://archive.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/equalitiesreview/upload/assets/www.theequalitiesreview.org.uk/transgender.pdf

    http://www.liberatinglaw.com/media//DIR_13185/FRYE11c1-StandardsOfCare.pdf

    Yeah. Because the UN, the British government, international conferences (the final link being over ten years old) and legal bodies worldwide are identical to campus politics. When has the UN ever discussed anything serious?

    http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSN26496097

    Oh right. 3 hours ago they put $300 million into Somalia. So I guess they have a slightly greater scope than the UK. Maybe if they take something seriously, you should too.

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  37. “When you lot get into employment (if you succeed where your predecessors have not) then you will recognise how the real world works”

    Firstly; I’ve been in employment since two months after I turned 16. I worked 8 hour night shifts that finished three hours before my first lecture started last spring to stay afloat at uni. I consider this to be employment.

    On the other hand, I wouldn’t count your own career aspirations over the next year or two to be “real life employment” as it’s perhaps a *little* isolated from most of real life. I’m not criticising your career (as it is considered a pretty good career for many people) – I’m just pointing out that it depends on the angle you look at it from.

    In other UN news, the UN security council condemned North Korea for testing nuclear weapons, pushed for a Sri Lanka war crime probe and its international discussions on dealing with a global economic issue have been pushed back for a month. Seems like they’re pretty busy looking at important stuff and still commission reports on LGBT issues. Why would they bother? Obviously it appears to be important enough to be discussed on a global stage. The ideas aren’t exactly “only ever taken seriously on a university campus”, are they Dan?

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  38. 26 May ’09 at 11:12 pm

    A Different Politician

    Have you never heard of the tyranny of the majority? The reason most of these motions do not affect most of society is because the rights of most of society are already ratified and accepted.

    Even if you believe trans-people are just crazy/mentally ill (which I do not believe) they obviously believe this have been attacked – even if ‘just’ verbally. Surely that is not right.

    As for saying they should just get help, waiting lists are long and it is not a simple process- what should people do in the mean time.

    Also, these ideas are taken *very* seriously in the business and people get in a lot of trouble for transphobic behaviour.

    Just a few points I hadn’t seen mentioned.

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  39. “Get a hobby, join a society, play a musical instrument, play sport, just stop complaining for complaining’s sake.”

    I am a member of 9 committees, a committee member of five societies (signatory of three), play the piano pretty well, played three football matches in the last week and think that it’s pretty justified to fight for the rights of people that I am not even able to sympathise with very well. It’s called caring for others and it’s something that more people should do.

    And I agree with what ^ said.

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  40. Saying that it is stupid to have forms saying “gender” instead of sex is not transphobic. You can call me intolerant to stupidity if you want, I accept that.
    Anyone with a sane attitude is going to vote against this motion. Motions like this are going to turn Europe into the new America – soon we’ll have people suing everyone and everything on the slightest occasion, except in our case, it will be on the grounds of emotional harm.
    A.

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  41. No… motions to ban trans rights will turn us into the new America. I very much doubt that anyone at this University will sue someone for putting a male/female box on an application form. It’s about respecting people, not only doing something for fear of a lawsuit.

    And I’m not calling you stupid, transphobic or the like. But there are people who *are* and these people are the reason that it is an issue for some people to go to public toilets; as Dan said there is a sex definable as what is between your legs… but if you don’t match the image of that (i.e. if you appear to be a woman but have male genetalia) then you are likely to get bullied by people like Dan himself despite potentially agreeing with him. The motion is designed to stop people from being transphobic, not to attack anyone who doesn’t understand the full science behind the issues or who thinks that they are all simply ‘personality defects’ etc. and I don’t understand what REASON you have to vote it down! What harm could it possibly do?! I costs no money, removes no toilets, hinders no people and helps a few individuals who seek it – what is the problem with it?

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  42. Jason,

    “I am a member of 9 committees, a committee member of five societies (signatory of three), play the piano pretty well, played three football matches in the last week.”

    You have way way too much time on your hands, I am a society chair and also a BOS rep and I don’t have much spare time after doing my degree work…

    Anyway, back on subject…

    As for the LGBT toilet issue, I can’t see why you are complaining. There are plenty of disabled toilets in the world, which are often used by the main population… By law there has to be disabled facilities which are more often than not unisex.

    Can’t people just deal with things and do something more useful with their time? If people are complaining this much about not having unisex toilets, when appropriate facilities exist, albeit with a different sign, your doing it wrong.

    Do straight, able body men take offence when we have to use a disabled toilet when the normal toilets are shut for cleaning in Tesco? I know I certainly don’t!

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  43. 27 May ’09 at 12:23 am

    Lloyd Sparkes

    Jason how does this STOP transphobia, it doesnt, it just moves it out of the bathroom.

    I honsetly cant see anyone at this university bullying anyone for having the wrong “image”, maybe in rough parts of london but university of york, NO! yes they might get a werid look, but no more of a werid look than a goth or emo walking around. Everyone gives odd looks to people who look out of the norm its human nature.

    If trans people getting beaten up in uni of york toilets happened at all then maybe i would reconsider my vote.

    This motion does nothing to stop transphobia it just moves it.

    And if GNT were built in new buildings then this would cost money, it would make toilet areas for current seperation of toilets smaller.

    If current disabled toilets are turned into GNTs, then this would most likely require a sign change which again costs money

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  44. Firstly, disabled toilets does not = gender neutral toilet. Yes the disabled toilets may be for people of all genders, however this implies that Trans identified people are disabled, which we are certainly not.

    Secondly, Gender and Sex are two opposite things. Sex is what’s going on downstairs that made the doctors slap you on the behind and exclaim IT’S A BOY! or IT’S A GIRL!
    Gender on the other hand is what’s going on inside the brain.
    Cisgender – someone of a certain sex who feels that their gender matches their socially defined sex.
    Trangender – Someone of a certain sex who feels that their gender does not match their socially defined sex.
    Genderqueer – Someone who does not feel that their gender matches either socially defined sex and therefore lives as neither male or female, simply themselves.
    To me, none of that sounds like a disability, simply human beings having feelings, of which we are all entitled to, wouldn’t you agree?

    The reason stands that gender neutral toilets are a step forward in acceptance of our fellow people, It’s a horrible feeling when you’re in a public place and you don’t know which toilet to use in case in either one you get the living hell beaten out of you, gender neutral toilets would stop this.

    Here’s two questions for those of you who oppose GNTs. Have you ever lived in a house with someone of the opposite sex? Have you shared a bathroom?
    If the answer to the second is yes, then guess what folks, you’ve used a GNT!

    GNTs to me, are an amazing idea because it means that others who feel like me won’t have to choose any more, we can just go and do our stuff in peace! And you won’t even have to be Trans or Queer to use them, no-one says you do, it’s simply a toilet that’s just a room with toilets, no specific people to be allowed to use it, no-one getting kicked out for going in to a room to pee, just plain and simple human rights to be able to relieve yourself in comfort.

    Personally I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

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  45. * Firstly, disabled toilets does not = gender neutral toilet. Yes the disabled toilets may be for people of all genders, however this implies that Trans identified people are disabled, which we are certainly not.

    So make disabled toilets simply “gender neutral toilets with improved access”. Also, I really do think that this fear of associating disabled toilets with trans people is misplaced – no sane person would ever link the two, especially if you rename the disabled toilets as GNTs.

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  46. There is a large part of this motion that it is difficult to find particularly controversial:

    “To provide, in addition to gendered facilities, at least one gender-neutral toilet at all events where possible.”

    Noting the last two words.

    The action that the given speech suggests is “a quick email and a paper sign on the door”. This is in reference to:

    “We converted a standard toilet into a Gender Neutral Toilet for our recent Icebreaker event without removing gender provision and it was highly successful. We met with no objections and it was used by a wide variety of students.”

    So, in this particular circumstance: an additional toilet was available for use, and it was ‘converted’ to a GNT by informing people of its availability and by putting a temporary sign over the door.

    Nothing to get all hot and bothered about.

    Perhaps this should have been addressed separately from the issue of provisioning gender-neutral toilets in new facilities, something which I think is much harder to convince people the merits of (the merits which, for what it’s worth, I personally firmly believe in).

    Disclaimer: opinions expressed are my own and do not represent the views of other consumers of chocolate biscuits and acoustic guitar players world-wide, etc.

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  47. “I’m sorry, but I don’t think people are born ‘in the wrong body’. Of course no-one chooses to be born with the ‘wrong genitalia’. Can you not see that these ideas are completely ludicrous and would only ever be taken serious in the political environment of a university campus?”

    Dan I ask you to read this:

    http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Gender-dysphoria/Pages/Causes.aspx

    In other words, whether you believe that people can be born in the wrong body or not simply does not matter; it is a recognised physical and psychiatrical condition, which you are a bit too keen to attack with more than enough spite.

    Quite frankly, our opinion of transgender people is completely irrelevant to this debate and I am truly and honestly shocked by the kind of backlash this has created.

    As I’ve said, I do not agree with the motion either, but this is purely for practical reasons; I think it is absurd to claim that a sign on a toilet can cause any actual offense in order to require this sort of action.

    Let us please stick to that debate and refrain from attacking groups of people on the grounds of their identity.

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  48. Essay Alert: This is what I get for leaving commenting too late. Apologies in advance.

    While the usual gubbins about personal opinions and not reflecting any union capacity applies, as LGBT Committee’s Trans Rep my biases should be pretty obvious. Anyway.

    Firstly, it’s fantastic that the Preferred Names motion (and also the Dyslexia one – though I never expected that to be controversial) seems to have been taken at face value and I’d hope that everyone will vote in favour of it irrespective of how you feel about the other two.

    As far as the need for these motions goes, they weren’t published in a vacuum. GNTs have been an on-going discussion both in York and further afield (notably Manchester) and primitive forms of the motion text have been bouncing around facebook and email since a need was identified – and it *has* been identified. Heslington isn’t exactly teeming with trans people, but we do exist (both students and staff) and the proposal and pilot at the last LGBT IceBreaker was well received and utilised. This isn’t a new thing – NUS events have had them for ages and they do get used, by cis- and transgender people alike. There are numerous reasons why people would want to use them. Particularly for transsexual people, there’s no defined cut-off in transition where someone goes from being male to female or vice-versa and the intervening period can be extremely awkward for both the person in transition and other people using the facilities. Unfortunately it still isn’t completely safe to come out as trans and people do suffer intimidation and threatened or actual violence for using what are seen as the “wrong” facilities – invariably without a good suggestion as to which the “right” ones are. Thankfully the worst I’ve had at York is funny looks from the porters for going into the loos that my birth sex would dictate are “correct”.

    If it were, as some people say, just about genitalia then we would have two rooms – cubicles and urinals. It clearly isn’t. For genderqueer (i.e. not necessarily male or female) students, there’s not even the fallback of preferred gender. We will get the strange looks or comments in whichever bathroom we choose. This isn’t just about how comfortable trans people are, it’s about some cis people’s attitudes towards gender and presentation too, and until that’s ironed out this sort of compromise is necessary. Irrespective of whether or not you think that’s the case, these facilities aren’t just for self-defining trans people anyway. Anyone can use them and they do get used – the ones on conference floor at NUS LGBT last year, where trans students are still a minority, had the highest traffic simply because they were nearest. Cis and trans people alike used them, and no-one had to disclose what was in their pants to do so. Yes, you can argue that people are uncomfortable in mixed sex facilities, but a lot of us are damn uncomfortable in single sex facilities.

    *pause for breath*

    Ok, so gender fields. Gender and sex are different. It’s a fact. The NHS recognises it, because they continue to operate on newborns so that their otherwise indeterminate sex matches up with whichever of the two “acceptable” genders it’s deemed easiest to raise them into. Unsurprisingly, they don’t always make the right choice. Someone joked above about the discovery of the Z chromosome, but they don’t need to wait. Klinefelter syndrome, an XXY configuration affects 1/500 – 1/1000 “male” births. That’s just one intersex condition, and one with relatively little noticeable variation. Note that I’m not saying that trans people are necessarily intersex or vice versa, though some may be. It’s also worth nothing that the NHS are getting better at handling this (and I do apologise in advance and welcome corrections from any trans or intersex person who feels I’m misrepresenting them – I can’t speak for everyone). The point I’m making is simply that it’s not that straightforward even by accepted scientific metrics. Humans are not exclusively male or female. Bizarrely enough, there are 3 times as many intersex people in the UK as the population of my home town (5 times as many as there are buddhists) yet official documentation will only allow the latter to be noted. Baffling. *ahem, rambling*

    Cold science aside, gender *is* an issue of identity. The majority of students here are satisfied that male or female adequately describes them – and many who aren’t sorely wish that one would. However, we are not being awkward or playing political games. For those of us who are questioning, that binary field is a sleeping policeman on a form we’d otherwise whizz through. Even if we’ve decided to transition to live full time in our so called “target” gender, there’s the issue of disclosure and indeed which side of the coin is being looked at. Clearly there are some things which gender reassignment will not change – it is only these things for which the question of “sex” is remotely pertinent. If your own gender isn’t something you lose sleep about, that’s really positive (I don’t think anyone *wants* to), but it is a big question for some people. 50% of trans youth attempt suicide. That’s a hell of a high incidence for some imagined discomfort.

    Allowing people to provide their gender as they see it provides in an insight into the actual makeup of our student body without taking anything away from those who define into the box typically associated with their birth sex. No-one is stopping people who already tick male or female quite happily from continuing to do so until kingdom come. What no-one who’s doubting the necessity of GNTs seems to have picked up on is the fact that the gender fields motion actual provides is with a new metric for determining whether such things are worth while. As well as its primary aim of avoiding discomfort, this motion will allow the union to positively consider the needs of its trans students in fair proportion, as a lot of the previous comments of called for, without forcing anyone into disclosing. It’s a win for all concerned.

    TL;DR: Yes these motions seem petty, but they’re serving a real need. It costs next to nothing to make these changes, they take nothing away from anyone and they’re fantastic for inclusion as a union and a university.

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  49. Did someone say phobia? Oh dear.

    There’s nothing ‘transphobic’ about thinking there’s only Male and Female. It’s a perfectly rational argument that sex and gender are biological (anatomical and hormonal) and to attack a person for a scientifically rational view as ‘transphobic’ is reactionary and immature.

    Of course, the alternative view of gender as fluid and a psychological concept is equally valid in psychological circles, also backed up by research.

    We have two rational yet conflicting views. No phobia. Irrational fear of people who have changed or are changing gender? Has anyone really got that fear? In a debate where language is so important, whoever used the word ‘transphobia’ is halfway to losing the argument through using a thoroughly inappropriate word.

    There’s no ‘phobia’ involved in believing a biological male in womens clothing with a girls name is still a man. It’s a rational point of view. Similarly there’s no ‘phobia’ or ‘hatred’ involved in attacking this view, or even believing that gender doesn’t exist at all. There’s even (dubious) research to suggest this as well.

    As soon as you accuse rational participants in a debate of bigotry, the debate becomes personal and unscientific. This is a scientific debate – scientists don’t throw insults and accusations at fellow researchers, they have to take into account other scientists’ work and results when conducting investigations of their own.

    That said, nobody’s answered the question about gender-specific research yet. And nobody’s come up with an adequate reason why a Male/Female sign stuck on the disabled toilet door would be a bad thing.

    But i am quite worried indeed by the notion that people won’t use a disabled toilet because it supposedly makes them feel less adequate. Its all well and good to preach about equal toilet rights, but for some trans activists to suggest (by implication) that disabled people are inferior is an awful thing to suggest.

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  50. Well said Em, a very very well researched piece.

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  51. 27 May ’09 at 1:05 am

    A Different Politician

    This is more a political discussion than a scientific one, while science is relevant (look up thread for a link to the scientific nhs website) it is not everything to this discussion.

    If someone called something homophobic would you make this argument? Using transphobic is possibly a bad idea in a group where people are not familiar with the terminology of trans rights. Language is fluid and therefore “thinking there’s only Male and Female” (and that male and female only exist for people born with correlating sexual organs) is part of the definition of transphobia. Yes, also some people also have an irrational fear of it, but in this case this term has come to mean something more than that.

    I think it is wrong to say these people should use disabled toilets. This is because these toilets are there for those that need them, physically. While their occasional use is ok, encouraging them leads down a bad road. Not all people who need disabled toilets will be obvious at first sight and they should not have to prove their disability to use the facilities provided for them if there was a queue. Also, some forms of disability which lead to need of those toilets can mean less warning about needing to use them. It is nothing to do with people thinking disabled people are ‘lesser’ in my opinion, though I can see how you get that from other comments.

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  52. “If Jason Rose only spoke about what he knew then he wouldn’t speak at all. Unless it was about the notion of speaking about things he didn’t know, which obviously he does know about.” Will the person who posted this hilarious comment please identify themselves because I want to buy u a beer!

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  53. 27 May ’09 at 1:58 am

    Something Good 2009

    Two points to make:

    Firstly, “Yes the disabled toilets may be for people of all genders, however this implies that Trans identified people are disabled, which we are certainly not.”

    Seriously? This is really just ridiculous! I’ve used a disabled toilet, but felt no inferiority or displeasure at using such a room. Nor was I considered disabled as a result of my use of the facility. In fact, it was much nicer and more spacious than a normal toilet. The disabled toilet is a suitable option. It isn’t a suggestion that a ‘trans’ person is disabled. It’s a bloody toilet which isn’t male or female (the fundamental problem, is it not?) Deal with it. We can’t just construct a loo – or changing room, gym, swimming pool or class room – for every individual or minority group who might feel in some way insecure about using such a facility.

    We – as a society, as a culture, as a species – really are in deep trouble if we have become so sensitive.

    Secondly – and now playing devils advocate somewhat; wouldn’t having a unique toilet available to trans, ‘gender-sensitive’ and whatever other title you care to use, persons (where they won’t feel so insecure or isolated by their identity/image/physical or mental state) surely single them out and make them exactly that – isolated by their identity/image/physical or mental state!

    In effect, by having such a ‘GNT’ or seperate toilet, are we not faced with a cruel and unfair sitution where potential users would be singled out for their use of such a provision? (Hurray, another opportunity to be sensitive and bothered by the nuance of life)

    This is just getting over the top. I have no problem with any person who identifies with the LGBT community. I have no complaint with how they live their life and respect their choices and the inevitable hardships they face.

    But to start analysing every minutae of life and worrying about how it makes one feel is not productive or healthy. Life is not fair. We each deal with our own problems and feelings, but manage to live (often successfully) despite them. The circumstances regarding the ‘need’ for NGTs does not warrant the expense and hassel involved in creating them. Simply, in this instance the proposer of this motion and it’s supporters are too sensitive. When they are physically threatened and harmed or regularly psychologically attacked in York’s toilets, then I will back this proposal to the end. The reality is they are not. If one does not feel at ease in the toilet, use the suitable alternative – the Disabled WC (see above comment!) – or grin and bare it as really, the unease is temporary and harmless; and if you are harmed by such unease then you should be professionally helped to come to terms with this and handle it (not meant nastily, as such a direct statement has the potential to come across as being).

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  54. As gender and sexuality aren’t binary, toilets will always be a sensitive issue. It’s where the cameras are off, it’s where you use your genitalia. It needs to be a safe environment, free from all kinds of sexual harassment. Trouble is:

    If you have only unisex toilets, women are at risk from being sexually harassed by drunk males. Rape is probably more likely to occur than in binary sexed toilets. Also, men might not appreciate using a urinal in front of women. The smell would also put off the women who like to linger in toilets.
    Of course, not everyone is heterosexual, and risks still exist in single-sex toilets, just less commonly.

    If you have only Male and Female toilets (as has been discussed), transgendered people are at risk from harassment in both places, or at very least feel uncomfortable about it. It’s not ‘political correctness gone mad’ if the issue is real, it’s basic respect.

    But if you change only one toilet to unisex (say, unisex and female), that would be considered sexist.

    Building a new toilet is costly, perhaps too costly in relation to the minority it affects.

    Turning the disability cubicle into a general WC seems the most simple, obvious and inoffensive solution. As long as there are enough of these around, transgendered people need not have to choose between male and female toilets. (It’s also very useful if there is a queue for the ladies)

    I know several transgendered people, and I have read up on the issue myself.
    As many have said- Sex is biological, Gender is psycological/social.

    Most people are the same gender as their sex, but not everyone is. There is strong evidence that gender and sexuality are formed in the hypothalamus. That is, you don’t choose to be gay, or transgendered, you just ARE.
    Wouldn’t it be nice to be known by what’s in your HEAD, not your pants?

    Some interesting articles (useful for those who know nothing but like to shout about it anyway)

    http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/343

    http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200811/transgender-children

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/6094782.stm

    http://www.pfc.org.uk/node/885

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  55. 27 May ’09 at 2:24 am

    One of the Shambles, (the funny one... )

    Surely we’re all missing the point here.

    If it’s about equality and understanding than what the bloody hell are we doing creating a clear devision between TG students by segregating them into having their own GN toilets?

    Here’s a suggestion for a real step forwards in true diversification. TAKE ALL THE SIGNS OFF ALL THE TOILETS. This would smash the walls of sex, gender and whatever and we’d all be able to piss where we see fit, free to look at the cubicle next to us and think ‘you know what, I don’t CARE who’s in there, I’m having a piss, and theres nothing they or anyone else can do about it.’

    Better yet, since the issue of having GN toilets arises from ‘transphobia’ either internalised or externalised, YUSU should consider holding seminars on the subject such as “Getting Over Social Hangups To Correctly Urinate in Public Restrooms”.

    I’m not wishing to sound sarcastic, but the concept seems to be so outrageous that sometimes, you’ve got to write something to curb the level of stupidity you see around you.

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  56. I have never though much about these issues before not being a part of the trans comunity.
    However i do find the opinipons of many people on this to be abhorent.
    I am greatly concerned that ‘anti-perversion’ has not been tackled by more then one person. This narrowminded elitist world view is typical of our entirely unchristian CU which does not seem to have the caperbilities for love, forgiveness and acceptence anyone with a half decent bible knowledge would expect.
    I dont think being trans is a disability but the disabled tolets do seem like an easy compromise, change the signs? it won’t make the uni go broke as some people seem to believe.
    As for being able to tell the difference between gender and sex, those who say “they mean the same thing, look it up” i suggest you follow your ow advice and realise they dont before you try and be smart because you just failed.
    having the option not to say, or have more boxes WHERE APPROPRIATE (to overide some people who didn’t read that bit) can hardly be that harmful.
    I think Warner-Medley may have put things oddly with thecock size analogy but i think he is proboly best advised on whether this is a genuine issue for students here.

    Oh and whoever mentioned ‘tyrrony of the masses’ (sorry i am not looking through it all again) Hear hear!!

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  57. A.Politician: “But i am quite worried indeed by the notion that people won’t use a disabled toilet because it supposedly makes them feel less adequate. Its all well and good to preach about equal toilet rights, but for some trans activists to suggest (by implication) that disabled people are inferior is an awful thing to suggest.”

    I agree with you, it would be a great shame if trans people and their allies were suggesting that disabled people are inferior – we should be campaigning together for cross-liberation, in a society that tends towards disablism and transphobia (albeit unintentionally).

    I’m a trans person. I’m one of those awkward, queer ones that doesn’t define as either male or female, and unfortunately (for those of you who are weirded out by such things) I don’t look like I define as one or the other either. My sex does not match my gender. I didn’t choose this; I couldn’t identify myself as either male or female no matter how hard I tried, not that I’d want to.
    I’m also disabled – I have various disabilities, but none of them currently mean that I need to use disabled toilets, or have any physical problem with non-disabled toilets – though that time may come.

    I’ve been asked to leave one gender of toilets (the one that matches my birth sex) and have been given many funny looks in the other. I don’t *like* using gendered toilets – I feel uncomfortable about advertising myself as either male or female to the world. I don’t live as either of them, so why should I imply that I am one or other by using those toilets? And I’m always wary of getting “hassle” in either toilet. But… I’ve never used a disabled toilet.

    I don’t need to – I’m not physically disabled in a way that means I need to use them, and they weren’t meant for me. The challenges I’d get of “why are you using the disabled toilets?? You’re not disabled” aren’t really any better than the potential challenges of “why are you using the male/female toilets?? You’re not male/female” (delete according to whichever toilet I’m in) that I can face whenever I use a toilet. It’s really no improvement. Admittedly I don’t have the problem of implying my gender to the world by using a male or female toilet… but I do have the problem of implying a physical disability to the world. And with this I mean no disrespect to those physically disabled people who do use the disabled toilets, but for me it’s just downright inaccurate. I’m not physically disabled in that sense, so why should I use the toilets that suggest I am??

    Until such time that I do need to use disabled toilets, I’ll leave them to the people who, due to disability, can’t use any other toilets – that’s who they are meant for and that’s why they have a wheelchair symbol on them.

    By contrast, I have used “accessible” toilets, and am happy to do so. By that I mean a single, accessible cubicle, intended either for people who due to disability, need an accessible toilet, or for people who do not wish to use a gendered toilet, and therefore are welcome to use the accessible toilet. Bingo! That includes me! I’m happy to use them, because a) they’re meant for me. b) nobody will challenge me about why I’m there – they’re for people of any gender and any ability/disability. c) they don’t necessarily suggest anything to anyone else about either my gender or my ability. It may only be a small change, in taking the wheelchair sign off, and putting a sign saying “accessible toilet” on, or alternatively leaving the wheelchair sign on, but also adding a male sign and a female sign, to show that anyone can use them – it’s a small change but it can make a big difference.

    People are saying the consequences of these changes are insignificant. I disagree. As Em’s mentioned, the suicide rate amongst young trans people is around 50%. As someone who volunteers with young trans people, I believe that in many cases this is related to the very real fear of being challenged or harassed every time they use a toilet, or having to agonise about which inaccurate box to tick every time they fill in a form, and worrying about what the responses to that ticked box will be… more harassment, perhaps?
    Changes to remove those barriers can only be a positive thing.
    There’s also the murder rate. Transgender Day of Remembrance happens every year, with the list of names of known trans people who were murdered is currently over 400. Around 30 were added last year. I’ll bet that a proportion of them died as a result of someone taking offence to them being in the “wrong” toilet. Now’s the time to take some action on this? York may only be one place, but Unions can pave the way on this… and York would be joining a growing number who have gender-neutral toilet policy (Bradford, Warwick, UCL, Manchester, Staffordshire, Bath, Birmingham to name but a few).
    So please don’t tell me this is pointless and unimportant – it clearly has potential to significantly improve life for a number of students.

    And to those who say there aren’t many – have you counted? Could you?? No, because trans people don’t go around with signs saying “tranny” on our faces just so you can count us in order to decide whether policy is “worth it” or not. Many of us are invisible, be that through having already transitioned and “passing” in our acquired gender, or through not yet being out, or through being genderqueer perceived as cisgndered, or many other reasons. We may be invisible, but we still face these issues. Quite how you can be sure that there aren’t enough of us to warrant the Union taking action on this I don’t know.

    Two very, very similar motions were passed at University College London just this evening. I spoke in favour of the gender-neutral toilets motion, which passed with a 2/3 majority. I put forward the same arguments as have been put forward at York, and cited experiences of UCL students who said they wished the Union did have gender-neutral toilets. I had only a few arguments levelled against this motion: that the number of students who would be “inconvenienced” by having to travel slightly further to their gendered toilets is far greater than the number of students who would benefit from gender-neutral toilets. This was countered by a) we don’t know how many would benefit (as explained above, there are no numbers on trans students) and b) Welfare issues are not, and should never be, simply a numbers game. If something can improve the lives of students without having a detrimental effect on others, it should be acted, regardless of numbers involved.
    The other arguments were cost, which was shouted down on the grounds that it costs maybe a few quid to put up a new sign -not going to break the Union bank, and the argument that a sign saying “toilets with urinals” rather than “male” or “men’s” looks silly. Firstly, it appears nobody cares if it looks silly, and rather like the idea of paving the way in equality, and secondly, surely a stick figure with a dress, given that these days women in dresses are the minority, looks very silly?!

    But as far as arguments against gender-neutral toilets, that was it. No arguments of “perversion, God made you the way you are” or of “political correctness gone mad” or of “gender and sex are the same thing (look it up) so this is irrelevant and ridiculous” or of “nobody’s born in the wrong body, this is all ludicrous” or of “this is a waste of time” or of “replacing ‘sex’ with ‘gender’ is stupid” or of “get a job and see what the real world’s like, it doesn’t have GNTs” or of “if you feel bad, you should learn to be less offended” or of “there are warped idiots who believe in this” or of numerous other arguments from people who have not sought to understand the issues that people affected are facing on a daily basis.
    UCL Union is by no means a bunch of namby-pamby lefties with a fancy for political correctness. They’re a fairly middle-of-the-road, well-run student union. But they didn’t bring forward any of the insulting arguements that York students have. They understood that they were faced with two opportunities to improve the lives of their students, and acted accordingly. Whereas here I’m told that at best I need counselling, and at worst I’m a warped idiot and a pervert. I can’t help but wonder what this says about York students…?

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  58. Why dont the people with the problem grow a pair (excuse the pun) and just use the toilets on offer?

    Jason, yet again on a message thread, you have shpieled on about the number of committees you are on, hobbies etc, and posted some google searched web addresses. I wont even start going on about my line of employmenr- I don’t need to justify becoming an army officer to you of all peope.

    Why do you insist on writing such rubbish on such a regular basis on every single comment piece, and have the cheek to tell someone not to post on something because they don’t know what they’re talking about? Actually, it’s patronising, condescending and downright rude. You are notorious for knowing NOTHING about what you speak; I have lost count of the times you claim ‘fact’ when what it really is is an illusion in your mind. Remember when you went trawling through The Yorker writing on all the traveling articles, telling people to visit the places that YOU HAD NOT BEEN, or when you bounded about figures on an article and then when asked to clarify, were exposed for being WRONG. It’s very simple- disagreeing is fine, but what you write 99% of the time is simply factually innacurate! Seriously. Step back, and take a look at yourself.

    I honestly think that these ideas are complete and utter bunkham. I think the whole concept of ‘transgender’, ‘transexual’, ‘gender-neutral’ etc. etc. and various ‘phobia’ illnesses that have been bounded about in this article are a load of complete and utter rubbish. I happen to think everything JR writes is just stupid- so I’m ‘defining’ myself as having ‘Jasonroseophobia’. I’m well aware many people have ‘Dantayorophobia’ but I happen to think it’s a cleansing illness that many people could do with catching. I think people who feel ‘victimised’ and ‘privacy raped’ because they have to fill out the sex on a particular form is ludicrous and am seriously of the opinion that most are just attention-seekers who received a bit of a hard time at school and have this urge to stick 2 fingers up to the ‘big bully of society’. Harsh? No. Just completely and utterly true.

    Anyone that actually believes these so-called ‘ideas’ as credible seriously needs a stiff measure of something strong.

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  59. “We – as a society, as a culture, as a species – really are in deep trouble if we have become so sensitive.”
    I agree completely.

    “those who say “they mean the same thing, look it up” i suggest you follow your ow advice and realise they dont before you try and be smart because you just failed.”
    I know, I already apologised for that.

    Once again: people, stop being overly sensitive! If you have a problem, try to resolve it rather than try to change society to fit your needs.
    A.

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  60. “If it’s about equality and understanding than what the bloody hell are we doing creating a clear devision between TG students by segregating them into having their own GN toilets?”

    We’re not – the motion is called “toilets for all” because the plan is to simply turn toilets into open-gender toilets in which anyone can go. It’s a point worth mentioning.

    And Coen, learn to write.

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  61. 27 May ’09 at 10:07 am

    From Leeds With Love

    I think that until you have experienced assault or discrimmination due to your gender presentation not matching your sex, saying that these issues are ridiclous, a waste of time and political correctness gone mad only serves to show that there are still plenty of ignorant and misinformed individuals about who do not have the capacity to empathise with someone else, even for just 2 minutes, which is about how long it takes to have a piss.

    I speak as someone who gets read as male and female in different places and senarios, regardless of my preferred gender, or what I may wish to be read as. I’m too slight and baby faced to be read as male in toilets that are full of adult men, and too boyish looking to pass as a woman in toilets that are full of extremely feminine women. This is the case in the toilets at my university and the surrounding pubs. My legal documents and identification (i.e drivers lisence and passport) say female on them, and so while I cannot completely pass as male I use the female toilets, at least that way I can back myself up with ID. It’s not a nice senario, but it’s necessary.

    On a night out a few weeks ago I went into several pubs. In the first pub I was queuing with some female friends in the ladies when an enormous security guard burst into the toilets to forcibly remove me infront of a small crowd that had formed. This is embarrassing. It makes a person feel horrible. It makes on-lookers whisper and ask questions like “are you a man or a woman”. While this does not come across as outrageous as asking “do you have a penis or a vagina”, it amounts to pretty much the same thing.

    When in the second pub I get thrown out of the toilets again, because a group of girls think I look to boyish to be in there, this is embarrassing and it makes a person feel horrible. When a group of men start groping me and prodding me and making comments because they can’t decide if I’m a male or a female and the landlord wont remove them because one of them is his son, this means I have to either endure insult or leave a public house to avoid abuse and empty my bladder elsewhere.

    None of the people here who are against GNTs or have shown ignorance or misunderstanding towards trans issues will have experienced these kinds of issues. Whatever may be going on in my head, the hassle I get in toilets is not due to whether I feel male or female, it is a result of the way other people choose to see me. They never stop for a minute to ask themselves why I would be in the womens toilets if I was a boy. They see short hair, a lot of height and a flat chest and assume that I’m in there to perve on them doing their makeup. I was left with a bust lip and strangle mark bruises around my neck because someone couldn’t believe that I could be female and look the way I do. This is why we need GNTs in addition to gendered toilets. It will be at least one place in the world where trans and genderqueer people can perform an every day task without fear of harm or judgement.

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  62. 27 May ’09 at 10:07 am

    Elliott Smith

    I am a transexual man. Here in York, I use the Male Toilets. This is not the easiest thing in the world for me to do, it involves forethought about whether i look “male enough” today not to be questioned, knowing which toilets are relatively unused, which hours of the day there are least likely to be other men in them, choosing those that are a little out of the way so i don’t get strange looks when I go in and out of the door… Thus far, in the 5 weeks I’ve been using the correct toilets for my gender rather than my physical sex, I’ve only been questioned 4 or 5 times and got quite a few strange looks from other men.

    On days when I don’t think anyone will believe that i’m a man because my female body is being stupidly obvious, I have used the Disabled Access Toilets – and been questioned just as often. I look able-bodied, people find it highly offensive that I should dare use those toilets.

    For the first couple of terms, I followed society’s idea that i should use the toilets of my biological sex. Not only did I constantly feel like I shouldn’t be there, like i was invading the sanctity of a women’s only space, but I was often questioned there as well.

    Those of you who think this is “ridiclous” etc please tell me what I am supposed to do? I am a man, with the body of a woman. I apparently look too much like a man to use the toilets “appropriate” for my biological sex without upsetting people and yet look too much like a woman to use the toilets assigned to my gender without making people uncomfortable. GNTs would be available for all *where possible*. Anyone would be able to use them without having to justify their right to use them, without anyone feeling uncomfortable about what genitals the other people in the room may or may not have.

    The “Gender Fields” motion is basic courtesy. If a form asks me for my “Sex” that is an invasion of my privacy. If I answered such a question, I would have to put “Female” based on my biology. In some contexts, such as medical forms, this is relevant and i would personally have no problem answering them that way. However, in most cases, my biological sex is irrelevant and not what the writer of the form is necessarily interested in. Changing that one word will make me more likely to actually answer the question – “Male”. As for other options, my partner is genderless, a friend has two genders, others i know are genderfluid.. Wouldn’t it be better, in circumstances where gender is *actually relevant* (it often isn’t) to have a more accurate reflection of the actual genders of the people filling in the form?

    I am the Queer Rep for YUSU LGBT and I accept that I cannot necessarily speak for others on these issues but this is a daily experience for me. This is my life, whether you want to tell me that i’m crazy or convince yourselves that this is somehow a “choice” of mine or not.

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  63. I heard that Ziggy’s has had gender neutral toilets for quite some time…

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  64. This Warner Medley person should get a life. Students are struggling with the recession, stress and drop-outs on campus are skyrocketing and all he is worried about is some ridiculous motion straight out of a Germaine Greer book.

    The vastly huge majority of students, who are indeed male or female, do not care one jot about such stupid niche issues. What about restroom privacy for the majority rather than bending over backwards to appease the very few? In three years on campus i have not seen one transvestite or transsexual.I defy you to find one student who doesn’t make their own compost or indentify themselves as ‘Ms’ on paperwork who has ever even let this issue pass through their mind,

    I hope these stupid issues will be voted down heavily.

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  65. 27 May ’09 at 10:55 am

    To Jason Rose

    How many hermaphrodites do you know then?! And how is something as simple as a toilet in any way ‘threatening’? I’ve never seen anyone go into a loo and start a fight because someone doesn’t have the so-called ‘correct’ genitalia as prescribed by their sex, ahem, I mean ‘gender’. No one cares- just have a piss and get out!

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  66. Completely farcical motions.

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  67. These comments are maybe disheartening but symptomatic of wider concerns and misunderstanding, which is easy to forget when in the liberal university bubble. People on both sides could probably do to step back and be a little less angry – I’m pretty sure that a lot of the hurtful comments are down to ignorance rather than just prejudice.

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  68. I would suggest entering the toilet you feel most comfortable in. If people challenge you, explain the situation. If you feel uncomfortable doing this, I should think you feel uncomfortable with who you are.
    Similarly for the sex question. Answer as you wish. And no, it is not an invasion of privacy. Enough with this concept. When you feel in a form, you forgo some privacy by definition. As I’ve said, should I not give away my name then? Is this not an invasion of privacy by your definition? Surely in a country with quite a few xenophobes, I should be unwilling to give out a clearly foreign name. This is a wrong attitude though. I have no problem with who I am, and neither should you, or anyone for that matter. If you do, I understand it can be difficult, but instead of trying to tailor society to your needs, maybe you ought to try and address your personal issues.
    A.

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  69. 27 May ’09 at 11:24 am

    Simon Whitten

    The simple fact of the matter is that some students do face a threat from abusive bigots.

    If you were trans would you want to encounter a drunken Dan Taylor in the toilets?

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  70. “Once again: people, stop being overly sensitive! If you have a problem, try to resolve it rather than try to change society to fit your needs.”
    Would you advocate this response for disabled people? There’s not very many of them, and surely it’s their problem – why should we change society to fit their needs? Installing a disabled toilet is far more expensive than just changing signs on toilets, surely we should cater to the majority?
    If you say that disabled people have no option but to use the disabled toilets, read my earlier post and From Leeds With Love’s post explaining how many trans people have no option but to use no toilet at all… or alternatively face harassment to the extent that it can and has lead to their death.

    Clearly there are double standards, if you’re happy about the existence of disabled toilets but think that gender-neutral toilets are “ridiculous”.

    “In three years on campus i have not seen one transvestite or transsexual.”
    Really?? How do you know?? Do you have x-ray vision, so you can see through people’s clothes to see that their genitals do not match their gender presentation?? That must be fun for you.
    As I said, we do not have signs saying “tranny” on our heads… you don’t know if you’ve seen us or not. You might see me and perceive me as a woman (albeit a dykey one) and not give me a second thought, not think that I’m trans for a moment… but the next person who sees me could be the person asking me to leave the women’s toilets. What you perceive is not what everyone perceives – I get called both Sir and Madam enough times in a day to learn that everyone’s perceptions of gender are different – and who you think is a cisgendered person may not actually be.
    You can never guarantee that you’ve never seen a transsexual or transvestite, or even generally transgendered person, unless you’ve asked every single person that you’ve ever seen in the last three years whether they’re trans or not.

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  71. Disabled toilets are different. They are not in place because disabled people feel bad using normal toilets, rather these toilets are easier for them to use. It’s a matter of practicality, not psychological issues. This is a very bad analogy.
    A.

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  72. “wouldn’t having a unique toilet available to trans, ‘gender-sensitive’ and whatever other title you care to use, persons … surely single them out and make them exactly that – isolated by their identity/image/physical or mental state!”

    As is my understanding the toilets are not for the exclusive use by those sensitive to the current binary gendered toilets but rather much more inclusive, available to anyone. By entering a GNT you could be trans, or it could just happen to be the nearest toilet, no concrete aspersions can be cast.
    Contrast that with making the disabled toilet the universal GNT – we do not want to get into a situation where anyone is encouraged to use the current disabled facilities as this removes a lot of the benefits which Another Politician has outlined above. We would then have a situation where only disabled and those sensitive to gender issues are encouraged to use the toilets, singling people out again.

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  73. I dont believe in this UGM due to my personal views on the practicality of it but I will vote for it.

    I dont know why all of the anti liberalism commentors on here have a problem with these UGMs. In the end, I have no problem with a UGM that grants others the rights they deserve if they dont take away from my rights.

    There are people on here which are walking the line closely with what is homophobia. If there are two toilets for the same gender at a uni event then what is the harm of changing one to a gender neutral one. It doesnt take away from my rights while allowing trans people to have peace of mind and enjoy their rights. Sorry to put this out there, but the LGBT community do have rights as well.

    As for personal attacks on Peter Warner-Medley, he does more for this university than people could imagine, and just because its work with the minority doesnt mean its not important to the majority.

    These are my own beliefs and do not represent Langwith JCRC, although I bet everyone on there would stand up and defend Peter for having the balls to stand up for something the minority believes in even in the face on right wing criticism. 3 of us have already commented on here to defend him and like I said, although I dont completely agree with this motion, I will vote for it in order to allow others the rights they deserve.

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  74. 27 May ’09 at 1:48 pm

    Gareth Liptrot

    “People get called names and ‘bullied’ (other people call it ‘growing up’) for many things. ”

    Dan, that’s absolute bollocks. I’m sorry, but to call all bullying “growing up” is an absolute travesty and incredibly ignorant. Personally, I don’t think I would vote for this motion, but I think something that can be agreed on is that bullying is not a universal standard of growing up.

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  75. I believe I have found a solution to the problem, for the affordable price of £18.75.

    The LGBT committee or YUSU could purchase one of these signs and affix it to the door of a disabled toilet in whichever building an event was taking place in.
    http://www.online-safety-signs.co.uk/ekmps/shops/safety/images/1757.jpg

    No hypersensitivity, no political correctness, no stupid demands that the university build additional toilets, no removal of current single-sex toilets. Job done.

    (or we could just hold more events in Roger Kirk…the toilets there are halfway to being unisex as it is.)

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  76. Just wandering through.

    I’m really glad that the usual gobs on sticks – on both sides of the argument – are here. It really helps me know what side to be on.

    Not that I really need to be told what side of the argument I should be on. To use the cliché I haven’t spotted yet, “Some of my best friends are trans.” I’m genderqueer (agendered, not that that’s a term familiar to most of you), and my boyfriend was introduced to me as a lesbian.

    I try to look as ambiguous as I can when I’m around the people I’m comfortable with, because that’s what I’m most comfortable being. That’s fine if we’re out at someone’s house, or in a bedroom on campus, but during lectures or trying to eat on campus, I’m probably going to need to use the campus toilets.

    At the moment, I still am easily identified as female (generally, as soon as I open my mouth), so that’s where I “go”. I’d like not to be considered female. I still don’t know what I want to be considered as, but it’s certainly not female.

    Folks, I genuinely don’t care whether you think gender neutral toilets are relevant to you, or useful in general. Just respect that some people feel differently from others. If you don’t understand that concept, perhaps you should do some thinking about yourself.

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  77. Online Awareness week is aimed at just this sort of behaviour. Some of the views expressed here by named individuals can and will come back to haunt you. Most employers promote inclusivity in the work place and prefer their candidates prejudice-free.

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  78. ME REMEMBER THE DAYS WHEN MEN WERE MEN, WOMEN WERE WOMEN, AND UNIVERSITY DIDN’T COMPLAIN ABOUT MY EXPENSES.

    SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE, EH?

    SEE YOU IN NEW YORK!!!!!!!!!11##

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  79. “Some of the views expressed here by named individuals can and will come back to haunt you…”

    I’m quaking in my boots.

    “I still don’t know what I want to be considered as, but it’s certainly not female.”

    I’m sorry, but what the hell? It’s very simple. Going to the loo is a genetic ‘thing’. Where you piss from has *nothing* to do with your gender, it is to do with your sex. If you have a vagina, then you use the Ladies’ toilets.

    I’m also sorry if this makes you uncomfortable, but at times, we all feel that way! If someone with a bigger cock comes up to pee next to me, I might just feel a little uncomfortable, but THAT’S LIFE. Seriously, when you get into the real world, you will see just how ridiculous your ideas really are.

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  80. Jesus Christ. I had no idea we still had such idiots here. I almost didn’t bother voting for these motions because I assumed they’d pass. Guess I know better now.

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  81. “I bet everyone on there would stand up and defend Peter for having the balls to stand up for something the minority believes in even in the face on right wing criticism…”

    Are you kidding? This has nothing to do with left or right wing. It shows how grossly simplistic you are making this issue. It’s about whether or not this Union should waste time, money and even be considering such mad proposals. What in blue hell is ‘trans-gender’, ‘a-gender’, ‘gender-queer’ for goodness sake? I honestly find this one of the most ridiculous proposals I have ever heard. I ask again, what’s the difference in me calling for a white, middle-class loo to piss in if I claim to feel ‘uncomfortable’ with anyone other than that using the loo? Absolutely nothing. It’s just not politically fashionable though equally stupid. So yes, you vote for the motion because it appeases your conscience in one way or the other. It certainy makes absolutely no sense.

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  82. I’ve said that before and I will say it again – some of the people who commented here should really be ashamed of themselves.

    Instead of discussing the practical implications of this motion in a mature and unprejudiced way, what we’ve seen is a group of uninformed brutes trying to turn this into a debate on whether it is socially acceptable to be transgender.

    Initially, I opposed this motion because I thought it was trivial and impractical; in my opinion, it qualified as identity-politics. Now, however, I am going to vote in favour, simply because of the group of imbeciles who have essentially transformed this into a referendum on whether transgender students are worthy of our respect.

    I still have strong objections with this motion (which I think has clearly created far more welfare concerns than it will ever solve) but I simply refuse to be on the same side with these spiteful bullies. I urge you all to vote in favour.

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  83. “If someone with a bigger cock comes up to pee next to me, I might just feel a little uncomfortable”

    Seriously, every time you go to the loo you get uncomfortable? Wow, so much about you suddenly makes sense!

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  84. LOL at P. Nusenvy’s comment above. Brilliant. Seriously though, regardless of what anyone thinks of the main issues raised (and though there are clearly one or two narrow-minded morons I think the majority of people on both sides are at least trying to engage in the debate) I hope people take the time to read some of the very reasonable comments above. I wasn’t 100% behind this motion at first, for the practicality issues that some have mentioned, but after reading Em’s and Rowan’s comments in particular, I can see that this issue has more significant consequences for people than I (in my ignorance) appreciated at first.

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  85. What’s wrong with making a few peoples’ lives better, for heaven’s sake? Because that is what GNTs would do – make people’s day-to-day life that little bit easier. How can anyone possibly object to making students feel safer on their own campus?

    Dan Taylor – I think you’ll find that transgender is a fairly well recognised term: by employers, universities, and guess what, even regular people on the street. Because the definition has so far escaped your consciousness does not mean that it does not exist. Please bear that in mind before insulting peoples’ intelligence on a subject they seem to have researched quite well.
    The difference with yourself asking for a white, middle-class loo is that as (presumably) a white, middle-class man, you are not made to feel uncomfortable by virtue of being white and middle-class by being in a male toilet (presuming that is the one you would use, please feel free to correct me if I am wrong). Not to mention the fact that it’d be terribly classist and racist to single out one ethnic group and social class, particularly since they are majority groups!

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  86. I am not prejudiced in any way. I am completely for LGBT rights. I, and most opposers of this motion, do not oppose it in order to limit such rights, but because we believe society is not meant to avoid any possible offense ever. As I have pointed out repeatedly, without receiving a single answer, what about all other possible offensive fields in questionnaires? If I run a UGM against a “height” field being included, will you vote for it? If I run one against a “name” field, will you vote for it? Weight, eye colour, parents’ education level, ethnicity, degree, political affiliation, age… all can be considered sensitive private data, thus they could all be removed. Please someone explain how these are different to the “sex” field.
    A.

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  87. Dan Taylor…

    If you don’t have an understanding of what ‘trans-gender’, ‘a-gender’, ‘gender-queer’ are, then please look into it before you conclude what decisions should be made in relation to such people!

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  88. First of all thankyou so much to Em, Elliot, Hann and everyone else who was talking sense..

    I *am* trans but only a couple of people know this.. This is because I can’t openly admit to who I really am with all this transphobia.. I could only read a few of the comments before I couldn’t take any more of it.. Just as my confidence was starting to grow I have seen what people *really* think..

    Also I have seen someone I know has commented and although they didn’t say anything particularly offensive they made it clear which side they are on so I can no longer be friends with this person which saddens me.. I thought they knew better..

    And the last thing.. Thanks to Peter and Elanin for putting these motions forwards in the first place.. I love you both!

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  89. Mr. Limklügmanentwistle W-M is officially a hero! Woo!

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  90. For some reason my last comments have not been posted..

    First of all I would like to thank Em, Elliot, Hann and anyone else talking sense, I’d also like to thank Peter and Elanin for putting these very real issues forward in the first place..

    I have to admit how hurt some of these comments have made me.. I *am* trans but only a couple of people know as I am too afraid to come out and face the discrimination which I know would follow.. And the amounts of transphobia posted on here does not help at all.. You people may be lucky enough to be able to be the person you truly are without fear but not all of us are so lucky..

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  91. Oddness.. My earlier comment has magically returned..

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  92. “Weight, eye colour, parents’ education level, ethnicity, degree, political affiliation, age… all can be considered sensitive private data, thus they could all be removed.”

    Very few of these are on forms with the frequency that sex/gender is. They do tend to be used in a more considered manner (if just to avoid overloading people with questions so they don’t fill out the form) unlike sex/gender which tends to be on most forms, whether it is really necessary or not.

    They also tend to be more flexible questions too – age is put into age brackets (20-25, 26-30 etc.) because people are sensitive; ethnicity is left open with a wide range of common values and the ability to specify an “Other”. The proposals bring gender up to the level of ethnicity.

    ” If I run a UGM against a “height” field being included, will you vote for it?”

    If you can find me a condition where people have a medically recognised difference between their physical height and the height they identify with which is largely unrecognised and misunderstood by the general populous then yes, I will seriously consider it. If you can find me a significant group of people who are seriously affected and upset by having to so frequently reveal their height then yes, I will seriously consider it. If you can find me a significant group of people for whom height is a significant part of their identity which is often not recognised by the general population then yes, I will seriously consider it.

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  93. @Dan Taylor:

    “Seriously, when you get into the real world, you will see just how ridiculous your ideas really are.”

    I think it is YOU who needs to get into the real world because you will actually find that major employers take this issue seriously, even the beloved M.O.D do. You are showing a severe degree of ignorance in thinking that in the “real world” they laugh off transgender issues.

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  94. “The vastly huge majority of students, who are indeed male or female, do not care one jot about such stupid niche issues.”

    If you don’t think this affects you just ignore the debate, rather than insulting people.

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  95. 27 May ’09 at 11:53 pm

    Elliott Smith

    I would just like to point out to people that they do have the option to vote to “Abstain” rather than feel forced to be “For” or “Against”. I would suggest that people worried about the PRACTICAL implications of this motion, should their concerns persist after a close reading of the actual motion, might be more comfortable voting to abstain as there do not seem to be many reasons to object to this useful and vital change to toilet facilities.

    YUSU LGBT is not asking for new toilets to be provided. They are asking for some toilets to be *redefined* as available to all, regardless of a person’s biological sex or their gender (or anything else). This is an amazingly simple request and anyone who has ever had to search ages for a toilet of the “appropriate gender” will appreciate that they will be useful. If you don’t mind what kind of genitals the person in the next cubicle has (and i suspect that most people don’t) then you will have no problem using these facilities. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of using the same toilet as someone with different genitals to you then gendered facilities would still be available to you. Everyone would be able to fulfill this basic need in peace. Wouldn’t that be nice?

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  96. All I can say is when you leave and venture into the real world, I hope you are able to display more sensitivity to your colleagues, otherwise YOUR success will be sufficiently limited. Your record over the past three years hasn’t exactly been exemplary.

    I think the debate about the motion has been an interesting one, and perhaps one which needs to be aired. It’s a shame however you are unable to do this without making inappropriate, offensive comments.

    Being able to conduct an argument in a sophisticated, mature manner…that’s part of ‘growing up’.

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  97. 28 May ’09 at 12:00 am

    Elliott Smith

    To the “Anonymous” who is not out as trans – YUSU LGBT is here for you if you need someone to talk to. I know it’s hard to believe but i’m pretty sure that most of the comments here are not indicative of the general population of this University. I’m sure that many of these people would rethink their opinions pretty quickly if they were(knowingly) friends with a trans person.

    Details of how to contact YUSU LGBT are on this website –
    http://www.yusu.org/academicwelfare/lgbt/

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  98. for all those (incorrectly) claiming that sex and gender are the same thing surely as one is an (apparent) synonym for the other you should have no problem dealing with a change from sex to gender on official forms.

    i also find it odd that people who obviously have little to no knowledge about transgender issues think that they have some thing of worth to add to this debate. if you are willing to admit that you don’t know what transgender or genderqueer means, than do you really think anyone is going to take your comments on this matter seriously?

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  99. I’ve just copied and pasted this comments section into Word. Including the names and dates of the comments, the word count comes in at 16,773 words. I’ve seen shorter dissertations.

    Honestly, those of you who have a problem with inclusiveness and want to turn issues like this into a big political argument – Get a life.

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  100. I think some people need to get off their “zomg, PC gone mad” bandwagon and start looking at the facts.

    The trans-inclusive motions proposed call for sensible and cost effective changes to be made *where possible*. No-where do the motions call for shiny new toilet blocks to be erected all over the university to the detriment of the cis-gendered majority. They do not ask for the university to redirect tens of thousands of pounds away from vital mainstream facilities provision to cater for a minority. They do not ask for there to be no mention of sex or gender on forms that require this information.

    These motions ask for changes to be made where possible:

    + For gender neutral toilets (also known as a toilet everyone can use, a facility with “WC” on the door) to be provided at events, *where possible, without removing gendered provision*. As was demonstrated, this is hardly an expensive move and it’s frankly absurd to let this get up your nose when it doesn’t take anything away from you and doesn’t hurt anyone.

    + For GNTs to be provided in new developments *where possible*. Clearly, if the funds are not there and there is no space to extend a development to include GNTs, this is not possible.

    + For forms to refer to gender when it is gender the forms creators are interested in, and to make such a field optional with an appropriate range of options. Hardly a bank-busting, time-wasting move. Obviously, if information on sex or gender is needed (say, on medical forms), this would not be the case. These motions ask simply that personal information is handled with care and sensitivity. Would it be appropriate to require people to state their sexual orientation on a form? Should a gay man (for example) have to ‘come out’ to university and Union staff? No, so why should someone who isn’t cisgendered have to make their gender identity obvious in this manner? By the same token, why should they have to lie to protect themselves?

    Not all of us can relate to these issues. I don’t know what it is like to be trans. I don’t understand the pain, the struggle and the confusion that many trans people feel. I don’t know how hard it is for a trans person to use a binary-gendered toilet facility. However, I have the brains and general human compassion and decency to know that these motions propose cost effective and practical changes to a woefully outdated system; changes that have the power to make the lives of a very real group of people that little bit simpler and that little bit better.

    It saddens me to think that some people find the notion of helping others so offensive and unpalletable. Perhaps certain people here should take off their glasses, contaminated by a limited life experience, and start trying to be human beings. We’re more than animals and we don’t make our lives any richer by blindly ignoring aspects of our collective human experience that we don’t understand or can’t relate to.

    A final word to those who express dismay at these ‘demands’ which are a ‘waste of time’ – these motions are being presented to the student population for a vote. There is nothing demanding about them, and the time they have ‘wasted’ is the time of officers and a committee that was elected to fight for the rights of certain minority groups. They’ve done that they have been elected to do and are presenting motions that will further their cause to the student population.

    I might ask what is so disturbing about democracy and representation in action?

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  101. I have to say i was in a similar boat to Nick. I thought these would be fine, not important to most people but fair enough if it makes marginalised people feel more comfortable.
    I would of abstained through lack of knowledge but due to the hateful comments that have come through so strongly i voted for it. I come from Brighton where there is a wonderfully excepting attitude from the general population. I have found the locals here occasionally wanting in his regard. I find it really disappointing that the student body has made me most concerned for the persoanl safety of people here though.
    I think certain people, Dan Taylor I am looking your way, should take a careful look at what they have said. Just because you don’t understand something or you haven’t experienced it does not mean it is not a real problem.
    This thread is shaming for this university and i dare say will mean a few less LGB and especialy T students will be joining us next year.

    Also with regard to people thinking Warner Medley is stupid for bringing up these marginal issues – he is LGBT rep, he is there specifically to raise issues that affect LGBT students as we can’t rely on others to do this.
    If you look at who in YUSU supports this Charlie Layland (the seconder) stands in the running for some praise. It is a pity she stays above using this (unlike some) as i think her, and Warner Medley, would offer a lot more credence to the sensible side of the equation. Ad maybe keep us to the facts rather then wonderous hyperbole that is not representative of what was suggested.

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  102. Okay, so.

    1 – Before you vote on this UGM motion, yusu asks you to tick a box, confirming that you have read AND understood the motion. UNDERSTOOD. As in, comprehended what the motion is saying, the terminology, it’s central argument etc etc.
    1a – Dan Taylor – “What in blue hell is ‘trans-gender’, ‘a-gender’, ‘gender-queer’ for goodness sake?”

    Sit down, Dan Taylor. This argument was out of your understanding before you even began your ignorant rants.

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  103. Could I proffer the notion that ‘gender’ was, in fact, a concept created by feminist historians to refer to the exploration of different aspects and meanings of masculinity, femininity and sexuality, and to distinguish these areas from biological sex?

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  104. I’ve said that before and I will say it again – some of the people who commented here should really be ashamed of themselves.

    Instead of discussing the practical implications of this motion in a mature and unprejudiced way, what we’ve seen is a group of uninformed brutes trying to turn this into a debate on whether it is socially acceptable to be transgender.
    I would just like to re-post this from George as it was SO good.:

    Initially, I opposed this motion because I thought it was trivial and impractical; in my opinion, it qualified as identity-politics. Now, however, I am going to vote in favour, simply because of the group of imbeciles who have essentially transformed this into a referendum on whether transgender students are worthy of our respect.

    I still have strong objections with this motion (which I think has clearly created far more welfare concerns than it will ever solve) but I simply refuse to be on the same side with these spiteful bullies. I urge you all to vote in favour.

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  105. 28 May ’09 at 3:35 am

    Self-rightous Postgraduate

    It is YUSU’s responsibilty to represent ALL students at this university, not simply the majority. Additionally, the GNT motion is not proposing taking away any existing facilities, and thus, the cisgendered majority won’t be adversely affected. If a minority of the students, no matter how small, are being made to feel uncomfortable by the university’s facilities, or lack thereof, it is thus YUSU’s obligation to do whatever they can to help rectify this. Now, if I, as a cisgendered heterosexual univeristy student, am open-minded, empathetic and intelligent enough to see this, why can’t some of you??

    Oh, and Peter Warner-Medley is not an idiot. As someone who considers him to be a good mate of mine, I can assure that he is a very intelligent, dedicated and knowledgeable guy. He is also one of the YUSU LGBT Officers, and, as such, all he has done by proposing this motion is fulfil the requirements of his elected role by seeking to make the lives of some of those who come under his remit more comfortable.

    A quick word to all of those people who felt the need to direct such comments as “grow up”, “get a life”, “quit whinging”, etc, at trans students; I cannot even begin to imagine the emotional, psychological and psychological anxiety that a trans person must go through. I’m pretty certain that the bigoted views of those vocal few who don’t understand, or simply don’t want to understand, are particularly helpful. Maybe think next time how hurtful some of the things you’re saying are, and if you’d want folk saying them to YOUR brother, sister, closest mate, etc, if they were going through a similar experience.

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  106. Elliot I love you! Don’t worry I already know all you at YUSU LGBT.. I’ve just not yet come out as trans.. I’ll get there.. In fact I probably trust you enough to tell you who I am next time I speak to you..

    A huge YAY to most of the last few people who have posted.. Clearly all the logical sensible ideas are on our side and the others are just scared by the fact that this is something they don’t understand and are just being argumentative for the sake of it.. Or something.. ‘A. Mouse’ was so right.. People have blown this way out of proportion.. They are perfectly reasonable requests and surely making some people who already have it very difficult ‘s lives easier can only be a good thing.. We’re not asking for miracles here.. Just a bit of recognition and a bit less discrimination..

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  107. Oh I understand the concepts of these ideas. I just happen to think that they are aompletely and uttery ridiculous. As yet, no-one has addressed the issue of height, put forward by a commenter up the board. What if someone feels uncomfortable about consistently writing down their ‘height’, and even ‘age’ on forms? Some pieces of information are necessary and I re-iterate my previous point. I’m afraid that life includes being made ‘uncomfortable’ at times and ‘offended’ and all these fashionable buzz-words. I just think it’s absolutely ridiculous and goes too far.

    Also, contrary to what is being banded about on this comment-wall, this has nothing to to with the ‘respect’ we give these particular types of students. On the contrary, there are a HUGE majority of other students- students who just dont give a toss about things like this- who think it’s all complete madness as well. People who think up things like this live in a little bubble. They are the type that throw about the terms ‘discrimination’, ‘offence’, ‘gender-neutral’ and ‘liberation’ as a matter of course. However, I think it is a complete waste of this Union’s time to (yet AGAIN) be dealing with motions that are just a complete and utter waste of time. I go back to what I said regarding the ‘real-world’. For those who graduate, what are you going to do when you go to work wherever and they don’t have ‘gender neutral’ loos? Petition Goldman-Sachs to to get them installed? Seriously, get a grip.

    All these motions boil down to one thing, as most UGM’s do and that is an extreme minority of students wasting Union time, money and resources by putting their extreme and fringe ideas onto 99% of care-free students on campus; I would hazard a guess that this debate on this comment thread has taken place between around 30 to 40 people, max. It’s not about ‘hating trans anything’ or having no respect. On the contrary, I find people who can’t go to the loo without feeling victimised quite ridiculous. As another comment said, just do your thing and get out. You’re not going there to have a cup of tea. These motions are absoutely ludicrous and I hope are voted down as such.

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  108. 28 May ’09 at 8:20 am

    this is ridicuous

    do the people that proposed these ugm’s actually believe them? ROFL.

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  109. “Very few of these are on forms with the frequency that sex/gender is. They do tend to be used in a more considered manner (if just to avoid overloading people with questions so they don’t fill out the form) unlike sex/gender which tends to be on most forms, whether it is really necessary or not.”
    In all my masters applications I had to fill in my date of birth etc – and being younger than most students (I was only 17 when I came to York), that can be a disadvantage. In some of them, I had to indicate my parents’ level of education. How is this not breach of private data?

    “I still have strong objections with this motion (which I think has clearly created far more welfare concerns than it will ever solve) but I simply refuse to be on the same side with these spiteful bullies. I urge you all to vote in favour.”

    This is just flawed logic. So if someone with whom you disagree says something positive, you will go against it just because it is them who said it? Can anyone be more immature than this? It does not matter whether Dan Taylor supports the motion or not, what matters is your own personal opinion, and you should vote in accordance to that. If you are shallow enough to be convinced to vote for a motion based on what other people vote, then you should not be voting in the first place.

    For the last time, people like me have nothing to do with phobias. I am absolutely in favour of LGBT rights (in fact, as a member of the ISA, I assisted in organising an event with the LGBT community last term). I believe however that this motion has nothing to do with such rights. It is a silly motion, put forward by clearly over emotional and over sensitive people. In addition, I believe that this motion will harm the LGBT community if anything – do you really believe that segregating your members from the rest of the population is really a clever idea?

    Someone mentioned above that they lack self-confidence. I completely understand this. Surely however, the way to go is not change the status quo so that this person is not reminded they are different. What one should do is accept who they are. I understand this is not an easy task, but this is why we have communities like the LGBT to assist you with such problems you may face.
    A.

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  110. And as a sidenote, I believe it is very shallow and offensive to label someone as a transphobe just because they oppose a motion. If there is anyone who believes I have treated them with anything less than outmost respect for who they are, I ask them to say so. Otherwise, try to think a bit more: there are more reasons to oppose this motion than hatred for the LGBT community. I would hope that educated people would realise this.
    A.

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  111. 28 May ’09 at 10:48 am

    Stellar Sparrow

    “As yet, no-one has addressed the issue of height, put forward by a commenter up the board.”

    Dan, I would like to refer you to a previous anonymous post which you seem to have overlooked, where you will find that this issue has already been addressed:

    “If you can find me a condition where people have a medically recognised difference between their physical height and the height they identify with which is largely unrecognised and misunderstood by the general populous then yes, I will seriously consider it. If you can find me a significant group of people who are seriously affected and upset by having to so frequently reveal their height then yes, I will seriously consider it. If you can find me a significant group of people for whom height is a significant part of their identity which is often not recognised by the general population then yes, I will seriously consider it.” (Consider it in context meaning consider voting for a similar data collection motion for height).

    Even if you refuse to gain a basic understand of the subject on which you’re commenting by, for instance, googling terms like “‘trans-gender’, ‘a-gender’, ‘gender-queer’”, perhaps you would consider at least reading the comments before wading blithely into the debate, utterly uninformed…

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  112. YUSU LGBT are all heroes.

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  113. Stellar Sparrow, so I take it you do not consider possible discrimination and disclosure of sensitive private information a matter of principle? Because it were a matter of principle, it shouldn’t matter if there is a “significant group” of students who are offended. If a single student is offended, by your logic, the forms should change. But now you claim it is a matter of numbers. And if we were to adopt this logic, what is the threshold to consider a question offensive? 10 students being offended? 20? Make up your mind. Is this a matter of principle, or not?
    A.

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  114. I know this derails the conversation slightly, but I have a question (and I don’t mean this at all offensively, it’s a genuine question): we hear this idea that some men feel like women and vice versa, and I gather that this is where the trans culture emerges. My question is this: in today’s world, what does it mean to feel like a woman/man? I mean, nowadays, the stereotypes attached to one’s sex are fading away – it’s sexist and idiotic to say for instance that women clean the house or cook better, and men play more sports. So what is the actual difference between a man and a woman? What does a woman mean when she says she feels more like a man?
    A.

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  115. 28 May ’09 at 11:19 am

    Paul Chambers

    Personally, I do not have an issue with these motions being raised. I do not think they are ”ridiculous,” as dismissing a person’s or persons’ concerns off-hand as ridiculous is narrow-minded, selfish and approaching the dictatorial. It’s what we have the democratic process for, if you disagree with the motion, vote against it, let the ballot do the talking and keep your venom to yourself.

    Now, to address a few of the claims made above (that which is in quote marks are paraphrases not actual quotes):

    ”this is political correctness gone mad… LGBT are a minority, fair enough, and should recognise this and accept their position”

    This is an absurd claim. Any minority has the right to further their position and agenda within the democratic process. Truth is, if it harms noone else, why shouldn’t we allow them what they want? Dismissing the claims of a few offhand is undemocratic, just think of how many minorities down the years (racial, religious, or otherwise) have had to go through such a challenge – were their causes any less significant?? Or do we now only skirt round those issues because we recognise that racial discrimination is abhorrent, but for some reason we think it’s ok to denigrate those with gender-concerns because they are still more disadvataged?

    ”if not three separate toilets, then why two?”
    This neatly moulds into my above points, for dismissing peoples’ concerns just because they are those of a minority is pathetic – imagine if we abolished all male washroom facilities simply because men were a slight minority in the population. Does this make sense? No, it certainly does not.

    Now, this does not mean I necessarily support the motion in its entirety, for I have a few concerns:

    1) As mentioned above we may not always have the facilities or resources to provide extra toilet space in existing buildings. Some of the shared toilet facilities already in place are in very remote areas, and are often in a less hygienic state. Part of the solution to this might simply be a higher awareness of the location of such facilities, and an attempt to clean them up.

    2) Given that construction of Hes East is already under way, I can’t help but feel the boat has been missed to really make a difference and find the additional planning space that would be required for a third set of toilets in these new buildings.

    3) Like some people above I do not fully understand the ”cock-size” comments. I think there is some value in the motions, but perhaps the wording of Warner-Medley’s speech has served to put people off, which is a shame.

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  116. A Catstambas,

    Really, you can’t keep saying that you aren’t trans phobic because you helped out on an LGBT event or that you’re generally pro-LGBT rights because you understand that LGBT people shouldn’t be persecuted because a), this isn’t LGBT, this is T and b) I would certainly hope that you would understand the basic rights of LGBT people. Pragmatically, LGBT rights are really LGB rights. When, in the past, have you lobbied or been in favour of T specific rights or acknowleged the fact that the issues that they face are far different to those of LGB students? It’s like you’re saying that you can’t be racist because you have black friends and we both know those two are not always mutually exclusive.

    Secondly, you are putting yourself in an extremely dangerous position when you say that it’s a “silly” motion, set forward by overly emotional students or whatever but if you would actually take the time to see how selfish you are being – taking a piss might not be an issue for you and to be honest all the better for you, that’s great, it’s fantastic. But don’t try and act like that’s the same for everybody else out there. It takes almost NOTHING to change the WC facilities into GNT ones which, can I point out, will NOT segregate the trans community because they won’t be the only ones using them. There will be a very VERY small minority of students who are going to go out of their way to find gender specific toilets because they don’t want to use GNTs and whether this is for religious reasons or WHATEVER, they’re still a minority.

    What you’re saying when you say that these motions are silly, is that you actually do not care for the rights of a minority. It doesn’t matter how small this minority is, it’s their right and the UGM is there to pass motions to make sure that all students have a student experience that caters to their very basic rights. If this motion was going to somehow detract from your own rights, that would be a different thing, but it isn’t and it never will. By refusing to seriously consider the issue behind the motion, you’re refusing to consider a basic human right and that’s your problem right there.

    The union’s money is not, at the end of the day, your money. It’s the money of the students and one way or another we ALL have a say. They don’t even want that much money. And they don’t want to segregate themselves, they just want to make it a little easier to take a piss. Sharing toilets isn’t that huge a deal – those of us unfortunate enough to not have ensuites have to do this every day. Why not in campus buildings as well?

    I don’t think you actually appreciate how hateful you’re being – not by saying overtly nasty things but by point blank refusing to consider how. people. actually. feel. You have NO authority on that because you insist on repeating these reactioary buzz words ‘ridiculous’ and ‘silly’ and ‘unnecessary’. Please stop pretending like you know what is best for a minority that you are not part of because you are making a freaking idiot of yourself. I don’t know how the shame of being the way you’re being isn’t crippling you.

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  117. I quite agree that life isn’t easy and offense and difficulties are sometimes par for the course. However, that doesn’t give us carte blanche to ignore the needs of minorities for the sake of the “99% care-free” population. As human beings, I would argue that we have the capacity to improve the lives of others through care, kindness and consideration for their needs. If we have this power, what is so sacred and vital about NOT using it? What harm does it do to help people out? There is little virtue in maintaining a society full of “buzz words” (which I would argue exist and are often used for a reason) simply so we can say we soldiered on. If people don’t need to soldier on, if there is an achieveable solution to a problem, why make them? What good does it do?

    We’re not all in the army. We’re not all hiding in fox-holes and dug-outs, focused on winning the fire-fight. Yes, soldiering on and ‘dealing with it’ are sometimes the only way to survive and sometimes coping with discomfort and considering one’s prioreties is important for the sake of a little perspective. However, it is not the place of arrogant, sheltered university students to tell the rest of the population what rights they have and what hardships they must undergo. Live and let live. If you don’t like a motion for practical reasons, abstain or vote it down.

    If you are so certain of your smug, ‘realistic’ outlook then sit back and watch to fireworks. Watch people’s lives crash and burn as they grow ever more pathetic and sensitive. Watch people cease to cope with basic tasks as they expect more and more support from society. However, I think it’s pretty pathetic to sit on an internet forum, lecturing people about wasting time and having unrealistic expectations. You think the fact that come on here and tell us all exactly what you think of us is earning you any credibility?

    It’s Online Awareness Week, people. Something to think about. Oh, and those of you with welfare committments would do well to consider carefully what you say here. Accessibility is a huge part of welfare and I’m not just talking facilities here . . .

    Oh, and before you accuse us of not responding to the ‘height’ issue:

    I think all personal information should be optional unless necessary. When people have their forms rejected or not processed because they omitted some personal information that was deemed important ‘for the records’ or to generate some statistics, we need to have a hard look at our administration and work out exactly what information we need and what information we like. I’d like all unessential information (information without which the purpose of the form could not be fulfilled) to be made optional – height, weight, ethnicity, parents’ education, age, gender . . . it obviously requires discretion and judgement to determine what is important and what isn’t, but that shouldn’t be too much to ask?

    No virtue in being a bull in a china shop. We’re not all errant school children who need a lesson on character building. A little sophistication, compassion and human decency wouldn’t go amiss.

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  118. A.C. –

    What does it mean to feel like a man or woman, in this age? Very good question.

    I refer you to the comment(s) on the ‘Vote for inclusion!” Facebook group. Tara Hewitt posted some interesting and pertinent information about why some people are trans and the differing male and female brain.

    There may well be some rather better sources avaliable but this is a start. If her response doesn’t satisfy you, I refer you to Google, the library and possibly Amazon. Have fun!

    My opinion? It is certainly the case that male and female brains are different. If someone has a male brain, they’ll probably ‘think male’ and feel male. It’s like being in love – you know when you know.

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  119. I cannot understand how people keep accusing me of being dismissive of people’s rights. What right did I speak against? How can you be so narrow minded? Can I not express an opinion without being labelled hateful?
    This is a fascist approach: personally attacking anyone who speaks against you, rather than examining their view and understanding where they are coming from. If you really were liberal, you would allow me to express my opinion, without resorting to cheap personal attacks.

    This motion does not actually promote any rights, by any definition of the term. It is just a debate on semantics, gender vs sex. I know I was mistaken earlier when I claimed they mean the exact same thing, but let’s face it, it is just a word. If you choose to take offense, you will. If you choose to understand it’s just a word, you won’t. After all, no matter what box you tick, no-one is going to come along and blame you for doing so. And if they do, you can always explain the situation to them.

    Plus, no-one has mentioned all the practical issues up to now. What about colleges that have designated male and female dorms? Obviously, you cannot have the gender/sex question optional.

    Finally, people keep mentioning the distress trans persons experience. The fact that they are in distress is an actual problem, is it not? And as a problem, it requires assistance, help and counseling, not avoiding dealing with it.
    A.

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  120. “This motion does not actually promote any rights, by any definition of the term.”

    What about the right to be able to go to the toilet without feeling like you’re being judged by other users?

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  121. A. Castambas

    Trans people aren’t trans so they can go from one stereotype to another. As you rightly point out, gender roles aren’t so rigidly defined these days. But they still exist, and as we can see many people in this thread are actively supporting segregation in at least one area of life. I’m not into sports, I’m into poetry. All of the things I want to do with my life, I could, hypothetically, do as a woman. Except that I couldn’t, because I wouldn’t know where to begin. Being female felt like being in a foreign country with only a crap phrasebook to guide me. It’s not logical. I’m a very logical person, and I’ve struggled to come to terms with the illogicality of my transsexuality. But ultimately, when I attempted to live as a woman, it felt like a charade. Now that I live as a man I’m happier, calmer, more purposeful, I feel like myself. So that’s my reason. I’ve tried to make ‘sense’ of it, but it doesn’t make ‘sense’, it just IS. But being gay, when you think about it, doesn’t really make much sense either. When it comes to LGBTetc rights, it’s less about logic and more about how people feel, about themselves and others. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard for some people to accept, in a world where reason is always considered before emotion and experience.

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  122. “Plus, no-one has mentioned all the practical issues up to now. What about colleges that have designated male and female dorms? Obviously, you cannot have the gender/sex question optional.

    Finally, people keep mentioning the distress trans persons experience. The fact that they are in distress is an actual problem, is it not? And as a problem, it requires assistance, help and counseling, not avoiding dealing with it.”

    I’m not going to attack you, because I do believe that you’re making an effort to understand, unlike others in this thread. Some of the things you’re saying are really problematic, however.

    1. Gendered accomodation is a huge issue for many trans people. Just like gendered toilets, just like gendered everything else. Things other people take for granted. So yeah, some trans people have to seek out mixed-sex accommodation. Some, like me, have to take a year out before uni so that they can be more physically capable of fitting in in their preferred single-sex dorm. Anything with gender attached to it, which is a lot of things in this society, potentially poses a problem for trans people.

    2. So, should black people forced to go to different schools have sought counseling for the distress that caused them, instead of trying to change the system? The distress caused to trans people by harassment/embarassment in toilets is caused by the gendered toilet system and the attitudes of others that use it, not by something within that trans person. The only way counselling could, hypothetically, help trans people in that area would be to stop them from being trans, something there is a wealth of evidence saying is impossible. Saying that trans people should seek counselling for distress due to gendered toilets is like saying gay people should have counselling to make them straight to get over the distress caused by not being able to get married. Telling trans people to get counselling to help them with this distress IS avoiding dealing with the problem, because the problem is the system, not them. It’s blaming the victim instead of the perpetrator, and it’s not productive.

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  123. “What about the right to be able to go to the toilet without feeling like you’re being judged by other users?”

    As I’ve said, by no definition of human rights… I don’t think the U.N. has included the above clause in any document…
    In addition, you are going to be judged anyway – regardless of whether you are trans. You will be judged if you are emo, you will be judged if you are goth, you will be judged if you are over-dressed, you will be judged if you have a funny haircut, you will be judged if you are too chubby, you will be judged if you are too thin, you will be judged if you are too tall or too short, you will be judged if you don’t wash your hands… maybe we should have different toilets for all the above then, if our goal is avoiding judgement?

    c. thank you for your response. May I ask what you mean when you say you tried to live like a female? What did you do differently?
    A.

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  124. c., on your first point, there is a flaw: if the accommodation system for trans people is flawed, I would be all in favour of changing it. The current motion does not attempt to do such a thing however – it’s just aiming to change the question in a questionnaire, something which does not have tangible effects on the well-being of trans persons.

    On your second point, I do not believe the analogy you draw holds. If you feel trans people are discriminated against, to the extent of not being offered places at unis, jobs etc, I would again side with you and try to change that. However, the issue on which most people in this forum focus is the psychological distress caused to trans people for being different. Now, this is a whole different issue: it means that some people are not content with who they are, and have identity problems. The solution to that is to try to accept yourself (like you said you did, by taking a gap year), through counselling, professional help etc. I am by no means suggesting trans people ought to stop being trans. I am trying to say that people should try to accept they are trans, and be happy with that, that’s all.

    A.

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  125. Would it be worth mentioning at all that these could also really help parents with children?.
    Personally it wouldn’t bother me using GNTs even though i don’t identify as trans. From what I can tell, many others would think like me so (given that most seem indifferent, at best) it wouldn’t really just be for a very small minority, it’d just be an extra toilet here and there – if that.
    As for the names, I like this rather a lot, personally I wouldn’t know how to go about asking for my supervisor etc to call me by a preferred name (though actually I’d quite like that, currently it’s just my friends who call me by a name I actually like and respond to).
    Sex and gender being different, surely it’d make for more accurate demographics if there were at least an ‘other’ box, for all we know we could be vastly underestimating the number of trans people purely because they just don’t show up on surveys etc.

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  126. “What about the right to be able to go to the toilet without feeling like you’re being judged by other users?

    As I’ve said, by no definition of human rights… I don’t think the U.N. has included the above clause in any document…”

    That response is laughable. The UN declaration of Human Rights isn’t the definitive answer to this question. Different people value things differently – a large portion of Americans view the right to own a gun as essential. In this case, transgender individuals view the right to go to the toilet without feeling awkward and upset as one which is important.

    In the end, this whole debate is ridiculous. Turning disabled toilets into gender neutral toilets hurts NO ONE and helps SOME. Therefore, why wouldn’t we do it?!

    Also, the argument that toilet allocations have something to do with sex is ridiculous. It’s about attitudes – the cubicle toilets in the men’s are exactly the same as those in the women’s.

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  127. Let’s face it, there was no need for this particular motion.

    If deemed necessary, these very simple provisions could have been offered, even if there was no vote about it. The real reason it was proposed was to increase the visibility of trans students; in my opinion in a very wrong way that has clearly backfired. In other words, it was a textbook example of identity politics.

    On the whole, this has probably created more shock and more frustration than any gender-specific toilet could ever have. This motion was just a bad idea; an attempt to make a political point out of a personal and rather trivial situation. It should not have been put forward in the first place.

    “This is just flawed logic. So if someone with whom you disagree says something positive, you will go against it just because it is them who said it? Can anyone be more immature than this? It does not matter whether Dan Taylor supports the motion or not, what matters is your own personal opinion, and you should vote in accordance to that. If you are shallow enough to be convinced to vote for a motion based on what other people vote, then you should not be voting in the first place.”

    First of all, do try to understand someone’s arguments, or at least engage with them, instead of rudely attacking while unprovoked.

    What I actually said is that the nature of this debate has been changed completely. I do not care who supports and who opposes the motion.

    What I do care about, however, is this. Instead of disagreeing on the proposed policy and the motivation behind it, some have reduced this into a petty dispute on whether transgender students have a right to be transgender. We even heard that this universally recognised physical and psychiatrical condition does not really exist and that it is in fact ‘completely and utterly ridiculous’ to suggest that it actually does.

    For that reason, if this motion fails, it will send a very negative message to these students. I do not think it should have come to that, but it clearly has.

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  128. I agree with humm. Changing some gendered toilets into gender neutral toilets will NOT segregate people because they will not just be toilets for trans people only, they are for everyone to use, especially as mentioned before, fathers with small children. It is ridiculous to think that only trans people would use GNTs. For gods sake, GNTs exist everywhere, in cafes, in our homes, and elsewhere.

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  129. “What I actually said is that the nature of this debate has been changed completely. I do not care who supports and who opposes the motion.”
    Whatever George. If a motion is right, regardless of what it has turned to, you vote for it, and vice versa.

    “That response is laughable.”
    No, it is not. My point was that there is no human right promoted here. Now, if you want to come up with your own definition of human rights, this will lead to many issues. Like you said, Americans may consider it a right to carry a gun, others don’t. We cannot go around proclaiming that a motion supports human rights, before these are established. And, like most people, you picked out a single point from my whole response. What about all the other people who may be judged for the way they look?
    A.

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  130. 28 May ’09 at 1:36 pm

    Oliver Franks-Pedrick

    Hang on in there, guys. Knowledge, understanding and empathy will prevail over bigotry and wilful ignorance. As they are doing in the case of rights for many other groups.

    I’m currently reading up on the history of palaeoanthropology. 150 years ago, it was indisputable “scientific fact” that black people were inferior and less capable than white people. It had been “proved” through all sorts of “objective scientific experiments”.

    Racism is obviously still endemic. But scientists aren’t allowed to shout that kind of thing from the rooftops any more.

    Currently the “scientific fact” that there are two sexes, male and female, is enforced violently, through surgery on intersexed children to make them male or female. It’s like deciding that all humans have feet under a certain size, then removing the toes of the <1% of infants whose feet don’t fit.

    We don’t do that, but we’ve decided that the WORDS “male” and “female” are more real than actual human bodies.

    I was going to spend this comment making sarky comments about the commenters who are all My ignorance, let me show you it! and I know that would be the reaction of my lovely partner were he to read the thread, but I might as well try and say something useful.

    So, the one point for people ignorant of the issue to keep in mind:

    The WORDS “male” and “female” ARE JUST WORDS, and DO NOT APPLY to some humans, no matter how they are used. Human bodies are more real than words.

    Finally, as someone said – Peter and Elanin are heroes.

    Go on then, one sarky comment. I’m more of a man than Dan Taylor will ever be – but that doesn’t say anything about my sex or gender. So’s any woman alive. So’s the average potted plant.

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  131. What I finds utterly ludicrous is that someone feels victimised going to the loo. I think this is madness. Just do your business, and leave. Where do we draw the line? I feel uncomfortable on occasions. We *all* do. Cant you see that its perhaps this victim mentality of a few on this wall that annoys people? It does seem like it is the same old people with the same old qualms. For goodness sake, just get on with it. Many people are far, far too sensitive.

    I also reject this claim that anyone opposing this motion is ‘anti-LGBT’ or something like that. The phrase, “I don’t know how the shame of being the way you’re being isn’t crippling you…” I find to be abhorrant. People have a right to oppose this motion without guilt-trips by people like yoursef. The same old tactic is frequently used by people in debates about immigration- if you support limits, you are labelled a ‘racist’.

    I am not ‘anti’ LGBT. I just find the victim mentality espoused by many people on this wall very, very sad indeed. To sum up, I think it’s a complete joke that someone finds going to the loo intimidating. I’m sorry, that’s not the problem of society, thats your own problem and you probably need to cut the paranoia and just get on with things. That is why I support sex-specific toilets and disabled facilities for practical reasons- they have the necessary assistance for disabled people. Secondly, I also think ‘feeling intimidated’ by filing out data on forms is complete bunkham. I literally find it laughable that there are human-beings out there that find this the case. For goodness sake, you are meant to be adults. Grow up, stop spreading this cancer of political-correctness and just crack on with life, for once not as the victim!

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  132. “That response is laughable.”
    No, it is not. My point was that there is no human right promoted here. Now, if you want to come up with your own definition of human rights, this will lead to many issues. Like you said, Americans may consider it a right to carry a gun, others don’t. We cannot go around proclaiming that a motion supports human rights, before these are established. And, like most people, you picked out a single point from my whole response. What about all the other people who may be judged for the way they look?”

    Thankyou make my point for me. Your citing of the UNDHR is an example of the very same subjectivity.

    As for how to deal with the issue of judging other people by how they look – well if there’s one thing we can do to stop it, which doesn’t hurt anyone, then why not?!

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  133. Oh Oli! I can now no longer take a word dan taylor says seriously.. I can’t stop imagining him as a potted plant with a face on the side.. In my head its a shoop da whoop face..

    Dan you are wholly missing the point.. People do not feel victimized going to the loo.. Some get dirty looks/comments because they may not appear to be in the right gender of toilet.. There are some people who suffer this in both toilets. I think it should be a basic human right for someone to be able to go for a pee without worrying about all this..

    Also I don’t think people have been calling you anti-LGBT.. Just anti-T.. Which you very clearly have been acting.. I can totally understand people opposing the motion for sensible reasons and logically explaining these reasons but this is NOT what you have done.. You have (again) implied that Trans just doesn’t even exist and the people who have to suffer because of an ACTUAL recognized medical condition are just making it up.. There are scientific explanations and everything.. This is the reason why you are very correctly being labeled as trans phobic.. By all means debate the motions.. But it is unacceptable to be so hateful towards a group of people who already find life extremely hard..

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  134. “As for how to deal with the issue of judging other people by how they look – well if there’s one thing we can do to stop it, which doesn’t hurt anyone, then why not?!” Well, let’s see… because then we would have to have special toilets for each possible look – emo, goth, sporty, posh…

    Don’t you think that the best thing to do about it is each one of us accepting who we are and being happy about it?
    A.

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  135. Thought I’d chuck my 2 pence worth of solution in:

    – Change the disabled toilet symbol to have ‘man/woman/disabled user’ symbols (then no one has to decide which gender they are to use them, and this would also make them suitable for parents of either sex/gender accompanied by a young child of the opposite sex/gender, who should also be catered for).

    All disabled toilets I’ve ever seen are a single cubicle anyway, so anyone querying you about their usage is just a wee bit too interested in your toilet habits if you ask me…

    – Add an ‘other’/ ‘would rather not specify’ box onto forms where gender specification is required (and change ‘sex’ to ‘gender’ whilst you’re at it),

    …and bada-bing bada-boom, you’re done.
    Little expense, little hassle, and we can all move on with our lives.

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  136. “As for how to deal with the issue of judging other people by how they look – well if there’s one thing we can do to stop it, which doesn’t hurt anyone, then why not?!” Well, let’s see… because then we would have to have special toilets for each possible look – emo, goth, sporty, posh…”

    Missing the point completely. Transgender individuals are explicitly affected by labelling toilets on the basis of sex, rather than gender. The same cannot be said for your other ridiculously trivial examples.

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  137. “But it is unacceptable to be so hateful towards a group of people who already find life extremely hard…”

    Victim mentaity again. You just cant post without alluding to it can you- I guess that’s a medical condition as well, no?

    You miss the point of what I’m saying. LOTS of people find life hard. Dare I say, me writing things on this comment thread and arguing my point(s) will resut in getting one or two dirty looks whenever I go on campus. It’s one of those things that we just have to get on with in life. It doesn’t require some form of token statement in the form of a UGM.

    “Some get dirty looks/comments because they may not appear to be in the right gender of toilet.. ”

    Dirty looks? Dear, oh dear. Dirty looks- whatever is the world coming too? Who’d have thought it, people getting all upset and sensitive about getting a dirty look. Can you really not see how laughable this is? Peope get “dirty looks” all the time for all sorts of things!!! I’m sorry, I find it hard to take your arguments seriously what so ever.

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  138. “Missing the point completely. Transgender individuals are explicitly affected by labelling toilets on the basis of sex, rather than gender.”

    This is not what you said earlier. Last time, it was all about “the right to be able to go to the toilet without feeling like you’re being judged by other users”. Now you say that the problem is just the sign on the door that causes distress.
    A.

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  139. I think the major problem with where Dan’s coming from is all this talk about ‘victim mentality’ and ‘oversensitivity’. Contrary to what is being implied, no one is bursting into tears when confronted with a form. There aren’t people who are so outraged by the selection of toilets currently available they’re pissing themselves in indignation at the offensiveness of it all. They’re simply requesting something a bit more appropriate.

    As it is, it’s all nice and convenient for cisgendered people to tick the correct box and pee in the correct place. For the most part it’s also fine for trans people who’ve done all their transitioning and are happily passing as the gender they are. There’s a whole massive gap between these things, inhabited by people who are in the process of transitioning and people who are not willing to. Expecting those folkes to just pick a gender as everyone else has isn’t appropriate.

    Not inappropriate because they’ll get all upset about it, but because it’s simply inaccurate. The whole point of data forms is to collect imformation about demographics, so logically it’s obvious that you need options for all demographics to be able to identiy themselves.

    Similarly, it’s simply innacurate for a person who doesn’t consider themselves inside the categories of male or female to use a toilet that is labeled as exclusively for that gender. In the case of those currently transitioning, even if they do chose the toilet of their gender, they may still be percieved as being in the wrong place because of their physical sex. In the case of a biological male in a female toilet, this could cause the kind of shock and outrage from the comfortably cisgendered female users that seems to be so scorned as needless offsense-taking.

    ‘In the real world’ there are still transpeople, ‘in the real world’ these are still issues that require addressing, and ‘in the real world’ those who refuse to appreciate the importance of things simply because that don’t directly affect them don’t get very far.

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  140. Why do debates on these boards always come down to personal insults and cries of ‘ridiculous!’ or ‘phobic!’?

    I never realised there was such thing as ‘trans’ before coming to university. I’d seen transvestites (always seen to just be a bloke in drag) and I’d seen a documentary on people who were born with XXY chromosomes, but I’d never considered that people could be free of gender altogether, or could have a penis and call themselves a woman. This entire concept was completely alien to me. I’d imagine a majority of the world’s population had never given it a thought either.

    What saddens me is that according to posters on this board, this ignorance makes me a bigot or a transphobe, or some other hateful being. Please, please try to understand that this is a niche issue, a debate confined to LGBT(Q?) groups and a few gender studies students. Before wheeling out the insults, please try to understand that people simply aren’t aware of trans needs, or even the concept in the first place.

    If this motion fails, it does not mean campus is ‘transphobic’ or ‘bigoted’. It probably means you need to look carefully at how the Trans/Queer lobby interacts with Joe Public, make the case in simple, non-offensive terms and try again. Peter’s comments about the sex option being invasive and akin to asking penis size were very confusing for most people who don’t normally consider these issues.

    Dan Taylor raises a point which does need to be answered properly, not with a shower of abuse. – To what extent are these facilities available in the ‘real world’? Swimming pools, gyms, sports clubs, council buildings, schools, public loos, shops, offices, pubs, restaurants, clubs etc… all have male and female facilities. If installed in university, would people who felt uncomfortable using male or female bogs here only put off having to use these facilities again?

    How is this issue being sold to councils, businesses and public bodies, and has there been any response?

    I make no apologies for defending Dan Taylor – as someone who is trying to keep an open mind about this issue (will abstain, not because i’m a bigot but because I don’t think the motions were practical – de-gendering the womens toilets is a pervert’s dream) I am finding it hard to actually hear decent, sensible debate amongst all the hate and abuse.

    Perhaps if the ‘yes’ lobby realised that the public is ignorant and tried to make the case empathising with people who will be confused about your position, without making them feel stupid, you’d have a better chance of success.

    I hope this post won’t be dismissed as ‘over-sensitive’. I’m just trying to get the facts right so I can make an informed decision next time.

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  141. Am I going insane or is this comment thing not working for me?

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  142. “Delia”, if you’re having issues with the commenting system, please drop me an e-mail at [email protected] and I’ll try and find out what the problem is.

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  143. “This is not what you said earlier. Last time, it was all about “the right to be able to go to the toilet without feeling like you’re being judged by other users”. Now you say that the problem is just the sign on the door that causes distress.”

    What are you talking about? The two things are linked. Transgender individuals feel their right to go to the toilet without being judged is *because* of the system that uses the signs on the doors.

    Really Aris, you’ve totally lost this argument. Time to disappear back into your illiberal closet.

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  144. That should read “transgender individuals feel their right to go to the toilet without being judged is broken *because* of the system that uses the signs on the doors.

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  145. “Really Aris, you’ve totally lost this argument. Time to disappear back into your illiberal closet…”

    Seriously, what is that supposed to mean? 12345, I’m afraid the way *you* are articulating yourself is ridiculous. What a childish attempt at a closing statement that was. Aris has been carefully articulating his arguments and you would do well to respond to them with a substantiated argument rather than ‘telling him where to go to’.

    Mallard, I take your point, but your argument is not the same one as is being articulated on this wall. I have previously cut, copied and pasted statements from previous posts taking about people ‘feeling victimised’, ‘uncomfortable’, getting ‘awkward stares’ and the like. My point is that we all feel like this at points in our life. Our very being as individuals suggests that these are very subjective concepts. If we attempt to legislate for any ‘offence’ that is given (and in this example, there appears to be a serious case of hyper-sensitivity), then where do we draw the line?

    However, i reiterate my main points. I think the very idea of trans-gender loos is in itself, ridiculous. It’s a fuss being made over nothing. Get on and use what’s on offer. I don’t particularly like using public loos, but that’s the way things go. Secondly, I simply DONT UNDERSTAND how writing your sex on a form offends you. If it does, then it’s your problem, not the forms. Stop being so sensitive and Mallard, I’m afraid that that is the way the motion is being articulated, as you can see from the interview with the proposer in the main article.

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  146. I think it’s important that people vote based on their feeling on the motions rather than on these arguments. Perhaps it’s good that these issues are being discussed, but we should all remember to read the motions and speeches carefully before we vote.

    A. Politician is right: “If this motion fails, it does not mean campus is ‘transphobic’ or ‘bigoted’” They do, however, face the serious prospect of failing through a little hysteria maybe created on both sides. The trans community does not want a big argument. These motions were not written in such a way as to wave their difficulties in everyone else’s faces, but merely to ask for help during a difficult time and that everyone allow them a few little conveniences that won’t hurt anyone.

    The debate has become somewhat heated since these motions were labelled “ridiculous” and the community as “warped idiots” and the ‘no’ camp described as “bigots”, “homophobes” and “transphobes”.

    I hope that everyone will read what they’re voting for and why before they vote. I also hope that those who don’t understand or don’t see the point will abstain and leave “against” for people who truly disagree with the motions.

    Once again, I’m so pleased that YUSU LGBT considers these issues important and that ‘T’ is seen by then as more than just part of the name.

    As for Warner-Medley’s comments on sex being what’s in your trousers, he does have a point, but perhaps he’s aiming it at the wrong audience. I don’t think – and his speech certainly suggests this – that he was expecting this level of interest or intrigue to surround particularly the motion on data capture. Such quick quips are his wont, but in this case they’ve been repeated to a larger audience which doesn’t quite follow. The best way I’ve heard it described is that sex is below the belt: gender, above. To ask for sex, therefore, is to ask for intimate biological details and may not always be appropriate, particularly when it does not match someone’s gender or presentation.

    Once again, I think you’re all heroes! Thank you so much for caring!

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  147. A Politician, probably the best comment so far. The same goes for Mallard. Your comment is very rational and insightful, however, I have an objection: “Not inappropriate because they’ll get all upset about it, but because it’s simply inaccurate”, you say. Yes, it may be inaccurate. But no-one will come and complain if they discover an error in your questionnaire. And, to re-iterate my previous point, even if they do, just explain the situation.

    12345, you are being offensive and do not contribute to this discussion at all. As I’ve said, many of us get judged in toilets, for reasons other than the sign on the door. So, just because this judgement is not due to us being in the “correct” place, it is more bearable or pleasant?
    How can you even claim that I am illiberal? I have not given any labels to anyone, I have not tried to hinder or end this discussion. I am more open and willing than anyone to hear all views and points, as well as examine them. You (and a few others on this forum), jump to the conclusion that anyone who opposes this motion is a transphobe. Be more understanding and kind in the future, and don’t jump to conclusions that are simply out of order.
    A.

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  148. 28 May ’09 at 5:40 pm

    (Yet Another) Anon

    My tuppence-worth:

    I already voted, in favour of all the motions. re. the gender field argument, I didn’t think much of Warner-Medley’s argument (one’s own perception of one’s gender is so individual and personal, that to be asked about it is as intrusive as being asked one’s political views, one’s emotional well-being, whether you are in love; which is why I am glad that the proposal also asks that the fields be optional, since this saves trans students from having to lie or ‘come out’ to university admin if they do not want to).

    re. the toilet issue, it seemed simple enough – whilst those trans students who wanted to could continue using a gender-specific toilet, those who felt awkward or threatened in those could use gender-neutral toilets. I still think that seems fair. It did occur to me that, if disability access toilets are to be redesignated as GNTs, it would possibly be unfair to disabled students; but I reflected that, whilst the trans population of the university may be larger than Dan Taylor appears to believe, it is probably not large enough to create real issues of disability access.

    Now, though, I am starting to regret my vote there. Above, I have read – “It takes almost NOTHING to change the WC facilities into GNT ones which, can I point out, will NOT segregate the trans community because they won’t be the only ones using them. There will be a very VERY small minority of students who are going to go out of their way to find gender specific toilets because they don’t want to use GNTs and whether this is for religious reasons or WHATEVER, they’re still a minority” and “Changing some gendered toilets into gender neutral toilets will NOT segregate people because they will not just be toilets for trans people only, they are for everyone to use, especially as mentioned before, fathers with small children. It is ridiculous to think that only trans people would use GNTs. For gods sake, GNTs exist everywhere, in cafes, in our homes, and elsewhere.”

    If (besides pious hopes for built-to-purpose GNT toilets at some point in the future) the sole real outcome of this measure will be to redesignate the current stock of disabled access toilets on campus as GNTs, with an understanding that they are ‘toilets for all’, it will be very damaging to those amongst us who need them most: who potentially need the extra space that they provide, and who potentially need them to be less in-demand. If events nights in the Courtyard and Derwent will see the newly renamed GNTs being used as freely as the GSTs, what will happen to those who may not have the mobility to get to another toilet, and who may (unlike their peers, be they cis- or trans-) be limited to using only the one easy-access toilet.

    I still think that GNTs are a good idea in principle, and I don’t understand those who object to the principle (to a certain extent, I take a point from Aris’ arguments – our society would be better, not if we segregated trans from cis, but if cis-people were forced to challenge their prejudices and accept the presence of trans-people, in bathrooms and elsewhere; but I take the points of the commentors above, that gender-specific toilets can be dangerous – and a tolerant society should always be willing to ensure that its members do not have to face harm or death if they do not wish to). But I think the practicality will be too damaging – because in this case, I think the issues the trans- members of our community face on campus (which is not a hotspot for violence or death) are not as serious as those the disabled members of our community would face if they could no longer use accessible toilets easily; they need those particular toilets more than the trans-community does.

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  149. A.Politician: Thank you. This is the level of debate one would have expected to see in this thread.

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  150. 28 May ’09 at 5:48 pm

    (Yet Another) Anon

    Oh, forgot to say – whilst I didn’t agree with the ‘penis-size’ analogy, I nonetheless voted for the gender motion because, unless biological sex is actually needed, gender seems more appropriate anyway – if the term a student puts down is going to be the basis of university interaction with that student, it makes sense that it should be based upon what the student wants and what is true for the student, rather than on biological sex, which may not be relevant to the student.

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  151. “If you have a cock, you are a man. A vagina, then you’re a woman”

    And what if you have both Dan? What are you then? A freak, an outcast, not welcome on campus? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intersex

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  152. Then it seems pretty simple- you get the choice of two loos, don’t you?!

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  153. 28 May ’09 at 9:16 pm

    Elliott Smith

    Since several people have asked and people do not seem to have answered, i will explain why a trans person may not want to reveal their “Sex” on a form.

    A person with a name of one gender and the biological sex of the other may feel obliged to answer the question “Sex” with their biological sex – thus effectively out-ing themselves as trans. This may not seem like a big deal to most people but many trans people hate their bodies and their “gender history” and would rather not be reminded that there is something that feels so wrong about them.

    I’m not trying to portray us as victims here but it’s a fact – being trans hurts. Living in a body that is so completely wrong hurts and we’d love to just be able to forget about it and carry on. For many of us, the support of our friends and families can help us feel more comfortable living as who we are, going along fine until a ridiculously simple thing like a box on a form or the sign on a bathroom door reminds us of the ugly fact that we are not like others of our gender. Should we lie about our “Sex” on a form? (I have) What bathroom should we use? Simple things that remind us that we have the wrong body type for who we are.

    Similarly, in a bathroom on campus, if we are challenged about our right to be there and answer “I can be here because i am transexual” (explaining the situation as i think it’s Aris keeps suggesting) then we are putting that other person in a position of power over us, telling them an incredibly personal fact about ourselves that can be, and sometimes is, used against us. Not wanting to do this is NOT feeling somehow ashamed of being trans, it’s wanting a little privacy, wanting not to be reminded about the body that we hate, wanting not to be known as “that tranny” but as a person. I am happy to come out here in a public place, using my real name and admit to being a transexual. But i know many who would not be able to do this and i would never make them.

    Also, there are very, very few people in this discussion who are truly transphobic (a term that does not imply a “fear” of trans people but a negative stance towards them and / or a denial of their rights). I can still remember not knowing that trans people exist and i know some people on the supporting side have used language that is inaccessible to those outside the LGBT community (and, indeed many in it :-) ) and i apologise if i have been one of them. I would be very willing to explain terms etc. to anyone who is confused.

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  154. 28 May ’09 at 10:00 pm

    Ralph de Cordova

    First of all, gender and sex are different. Sex, for argument’s sake, denotes certain anatomy. Gender, however, is a cultural production; a performative articulation before an audience that can be social or sexual. As such, it is a performance negotiated through what society will recognise under the existing masculine-feminine, male-female, hetero-homo binary identities.

    For people who feel fundamentally alienated by such binaries – people who are either intersexed or who cannot identify with a prescribed gender – it is an extremely uncomfortable thing for one to go into this kind of environment, where gender is systemically asserted and questioned.

    What the motion simply does is offer individuals a choice, which would only take a certain redefining of toilet facilities currently reserved for disabled users. It would make the lives of real, existing York students a lot easier, and would be relatively painless to implement.

    As such, I’d encourage people to vote in support of an inclusive motion, rather than follow some of the rather drab and ignorant commonsense views posted above.

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  155. I notice Aris didn’t respond to my point about “rights” and “signs”, and rather picked out one issue from my post and jumped on it. Ironically, exactly what you accused me of doing! Hypocritical much?! Also due to the fact that you know you are utterly in the wrong, I suspect.

    P.S the closing remark was an attempt at humour…. not that many of you would get it considering how seriously you take yourselves!

    PPS. How can you say you’re “more open and willing than anyone to hear all views and points” when your facebook status from Wednesday until today has been advocating voting against this motion (as you have already said you have) without any mention of these discussions?

    I just hope no there are no international students at York reading this – I’d be ashamed of having an elected ISA Officer with these views.

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  156. This can be easily solved by everyone either pissing in the lake or on Langwith. No discrimination whether you are male, female, both or neither!

    This is an intriguing topic but one for a UGM? Please! It’s things like this that really make me laugh about our union. The debate of Sex vs. Gender is simple. Sex is biological, gender is a social construct and something we can choose.

    Simple. Sorted. Done.

    Who’d have thought at a top 10 university there would be such a debate about where people go to the loo?

    Comment edited by a moderator

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  157. Also, people keep mentioning the rights of the minority to be able to urinate in peace, avoid so called dirty looks and be safe.

    What about the majority? People get so dragged along by paranoia and hype that they forget that most people either, don’t care or don’t want these changes and will vote out of ignorance or sympathy.

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  158. A. Politician, perhaps the most rational post. Hopefully it will be acted upon. Raising awareness of all niche issues is always a challange though.
    It is a pity that this is how the yes lobby is coming across ( i am quite possibly fitting under that classification). So i am going to refrain that kind of angle. I think this anger in the yes lobby has come alot from the agression the No Lobby had. Lack of awareness is different to finding something ridiculous and whiney. I have found some of the objections raised very fair and sensible, it is the narrowminded ones that have caused dispair and riled me, and I’m sure others into making similarly scathing and generalised responses.

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  159. 12345:
    Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with Aris, it is unfair to suggest that he was seeking to target anyone by expressing his views. He opposed the motion for the reasons he explained, not in order to spite people. He has already said that he never intended to cause any offense, and he has already admitted that he made his share of mistakes.

    This whole situation is exactly the reason why this motion was ill-thought of as an idea. The fact of the matter is that we are suddenly expected to vote on an issue that most of us will know pretty much nothing about. This kind of polarisation was simply inevitable. In all seriousness, how many students do you expect to know much about transgender issues? I will not be hiding behind my own finger here, I know almost nothing about trans issues. They are simply never discussed where me and Aris come from, and I am pretty sure that many students here would have a largely similar level of knowledge.

    That said, do you honestly think that this friction was really the best way to raise awareness and promote understanding about trans issues? Would it not have been a better idea if this motion was put forward after the end of a relevant campaign – in other words, after people were educated about these issues and after awareness had been raised? I bet that most of this would have been avoided.

    However, there was no such campaign, and we can all see the results. Everyone supporting this motion is automatically labeled as over-sensitive, attention-seeking and generally mentally unstable, whereas everyone opposing it is automatically labeled as an illiberal phobic bigot. None of this is what I’d be describing as ‘understanding’, by any definition of the term.

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  160. “I simply DONT UNDERSTAND how writing your sex on a form offends you”

    Well, Dan (and any others who may feel the same way), therein lies the main problem with your arguments. Until you can understand this (and you have surely seen in this comment thread that there are people who are uncomfortable writing their sex on a form, and therefore that there is something to be understood), how can you have a close enough understanding of the motion and the way it would affect people to be able to vote or comment on it one way or the other?

    As I see it, it is just a matter of simple courtesy to at least slightly research what is being discussed before weighing in. If you did research it, you would learn, amongst other things, that sex and gender are very different things, that many people have a different gender from their sex, and that it is entirely possible for someone to be agendered.

    To be honest, despite being on the YUSU LGBT committee, I still don’t understand every single issue that concerns trans people and as a cisgendered man I’m not sure I ever will, however hard I try. What I do know is that many feel uncomfortable filling out forms that ask for their sex rather than their gender, and even more so using a toilet that they don’t belong in yet feel pressured to use by other members of society. As such, given that these motions only ask to do certain things ‘where possible’ and will therefore not impede on anyone else’s happiness or comfort, I don’t see how any harm can come of voting for the motions.

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  161. I shal re-phrase, Tim. I don’t think someone SHOULD feel offended by having to put their ‘sex’ on a form. It’s hyper-sensitive and creates an awful precedent. How about people who have just reached 65 and have started receiving a pension? Maybe they feel uncomfortable. How about people below 5ft or over 6ft 8 who feel uncomfortable about that?

    I think it’s very petty to be honest with you. The debate on this wall seems to have become more reasonable and Elliot, I appreciate your post as I am sure many others opposing this motion will. However I am still unmoved from my original position, viewing these motions to be PC, motivated by the over-vocal minority and frankly, a compete waste of time because I don’t think people that are *so* easily offended should be legislated for through a UGM. I honestly think it sets a terrible precedent and for reasons not of ‘anti-LGBT’ or any other hysterical reasoning, but for sound reasoning, I voted against these motions.

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  162. 12345, at least I have the decency to publicly express my opinions, under my name, rather than hiding behind anonymity. I provide people like you the platform and the opportunity to criticise me (and even facebook-stalk me). For the record, I believe in complete openness – my facebook profile is open for anyone to see (not just friends/networks), and I have never (as long as I remember) made an anonymous comment. It is very easy expressing opinions and offending people (by labeling them as transphobics or whatever), if no-one knows who you are. And by the way, my new facebook status, changed before you wrote this, is to vote regardless of your position.

    In addition, I did answer the point on signs. I said that now you’ve changed your position, claiming that the problem is not the harsh judgement in itself, rather that it is provoked by a sign on the door. As if it would be perfectly fine judging anyone under different circumstances. Simple as this: you either believe that the whole problem is that transgendered persons are being harshly judged or offended by people, to which I responded that so do numerous other social groups, or your problem is that there is a sign in the door that makes all the difference, which seems a bit petty on its own.

    “would rather not be reminded that there is something that feels so wrong about them.” This is what I have been saying all along: you think the answer is to simply forget there is something about yourself that is bothering you? I believe that the best way to deal with it is face the fact that you don’t like something about yourself, and try to grow out of it, a task which I realise must be extremely difficult. However, there are people who can help with such problems. Running away from a problem does not solve the actual issue though. It is like saying that having a problem is fine, as long as you can avoid facing it.
    A.

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  163. Did my previous comment disappear?

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  164. Nathan, again people have missed the point.

    “What about the majority? People get so dragged along by paranoia and hype that they forget that most people either, don’t care or don’t want these changes and will vote out of ignorance or sympathy.”

    The majority will STILL HAVE THE SAME AS EVER. This is ONLY where there are multiple toilets and no objection to changing them from staff (i.e. in Langwith there are three toilets near each other so one would become an unlabeled WC) or where building new ones to include all three. It’s common decency and it’s STANDARD policy now.

    http://www.ecu.ac.uk/your-questions/which-toilets-should-trans-people-use

    “In the longer term, you might like to consider making some toilets unisex so that gender is not an issue”

    Standard, nationwide. It’s not a uni thing and it’s not a nonissue. Again, most of us won’t understand the problem because we’re not trans but the people who *do* understand the problem, out of the entire 31,000 word thread, have all said that they’re voting *yes* to the motion. So why the hell, when there are NO NEGATIVES, would you vote against it?

    We’re still keeping gender toilets there – we’re just having an unlabeled toilet as well!

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  165. “I voted against these motions.”

    Did you, Dan? I’m shocked.

    Anyway, they all reached quoracy and all passed. Including ratification of Union Council minutes, which is rare.

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  166. 29 May ’09 at 3:38 pm

    Anon once more

    Goodness, people get angry about silly things! To ignore trans issues is ridiculous, especially on the basis of nature, which to remind some people, is not entirely flawless.

    I am a fairly sensible person, and a pragmatic one. I therefore, when first hearing of the motion, took the “This is ridiculous stance”, purely on the basis of practicality. However, having read it thoroughly, I quickly realised that the measures Peter is advocating are entirely possible. ‘Where possible’ seems to me to be an important part of the argument. Within practical confines there is no reason why these measures cannot put in place, using existing toilets would bypass the cost and building issues.

    Whether one agrees or not with the concept of transgender, whatever my personal views on those who ignorantly dismiss the condition may be, this Union has taken a stance to improve trans rights and awareness. It would, therefore, be inconsistent to ignore such a simple and easy method to make people feel more comfortable in what is their university.

    Do not marginalise people simply on their number, we would certainly not hear people dismissing the need for disabled toilets on the basis that disabled students do not make up the majority. Although I find drawing similarities between trans people and disabled people a minefield, perhaps the similarity that both may be referred to as differently-abled may help some students, such as Mr. Taylor to understand their needs in a way that does not challenge his limited perspective on the world.

    I do find it worrying that we may see Mr. Taylor in politics at some point, although these fears are allayed slightly by my faith that most people would not vote for someone whose arguments are so frequently shallowly based on his long-held opinions, whilst ignoring the facts, and are put to them in such an aggressive tone. Whilst I would consider to take it upon myself to recommend to him that a calmer, considered approach would be more effective, I will refrain, hoping that he will continue to cock-up his argument through his inability to express himself sensibly (Of course, this decision may have something to do with my personal dislike for his right-wing opinions!).

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  167. What on earth? What will warner medley come up with next?
    YUSU have better things to do, this is ridiculous.
    It will totally alienate the rest of campus, i certainly wouldn’t want to use a gender neutral toilet, and certainly not have my fees paying for one!

    Edited by a moderator

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  168. Faceplaces, read the motion please. Nobody will be paying absolutely anything.

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  169. Correct me if I’m wrong here….. is the proposal from Warner-Medley basically to have unisex toilets at events and around on campus?

    I don’t see a problem with gender neutral toilets, I quite like the idea. I’m female (sex and gender) and wouldn’t have a problem using gender neutral toilets (or as I see them, unisex toilets, or should that be unigender, I get confused). If some people feel uncomfortable using male or female specific toilets then I think its unfair not to offer a gender neutral toilet.

    I understand some people (due to either religious or other personal beliefs) might feel uncomfortable using a unisex toilet but I’m sure the vast majority of students wouldn’t have a problem with using one.

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