Dr. Anneliese A. Singh, Associate Professor and Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the College of Education, presented a lecture on Oct. 13 at 3:30p.m. The lecture, titled “What if Trans Liberation was for Everybody?: The Importance of ‘All-Gender’ Bathrooms,” took place in the Campus Center Ballroom.
She spoke to students about trans liberation in light of the incident that occurred in the Ingram Library weeks ago. On Sunday, Sept. 18, a UWG student removed temporary all-gender bathroom signs from single-occupancy restrooms.
During her presentation, she addressed the safety concern for transgender individuals using bathrooms. She displayed an image of a transgender person deciding which bathroom to use. If they use one bathroom, then they could face jail time. If they use the other, they could be harmed.
“Nearly 80 to 90 percent of trans people report being hurt in bathrooms,” Dr. Singh said. “I want you to go to the last time you used the bathroom today. I want you to imagine feeling the anticipation that you might be hurt in that bathroom.”
Her presentation highlighted the benefits of all-gender restrooms for everyone.
“Single-stall bathrooms are 100 percent good for people who identify as gender-queer and nonbinary, who really may not want to be using the bathroom with everyone else.”
She also said these bathrooms can be helpful to people with disabilities, those who may need to inject medication and for mothers and fathers with children.
“For all of us, a single-stall bathroom can be our best friend,” she said. “We need to have some privacy, right?”
Later, she described the elements of shared trans liberation and defined what liberation meant.
“It’s the act or process of freeing someone or something from control,” she said. “That’s like the foundation of this country, right? The removal of traditional social, sexual roles, attitudes. It’s kind of freeing yourself of stereotypes.”
One element that can lead to trans liberation was self-reflection. She wanted students to think about the stereotypes and roles they have been placed in because of their gender.
“I think for us, if we’re going to get to shared gender liberation, we have to think about our gender deeply,” she said. “And so, I want you, again, to think about who taught you to be a boy or a girl and how did you get out of those stereotypes.”
“Think about right now,” she also said. “What’s one way you beat your own body up or judge yourself or kind of feel like you have to look and be a certain way? That’s all related to what trans people go through as well.”
Centering the margin or focusing on those who are oppressed was another way to liberation.
“We’ve got to figure out who are the people who are the gender outlaws, who are targeted, who are made fun of,” Dr. Singh said. “If we can make this campus safer for them, guess what? This campus is going to be safer for everyone, right?”
She also touched on accountability. She mentioned taking a stand for what is right and wrong when it comes to injustice toward trans gender individuals. Students can also educate themselves and others about transgender issues.
“That matters, folks,” she said. “It really does. And then we can start to support and encourage social justice and making sure that these things don’t happen. That’s what the bathrooms are about. It’s about supporting and encouraging, and I would say even preventing. The bathroom, on multiple levels, is a public health issue when people don’t feel like they can use it.”
Afterwards, she expressed getting involved in discussions about inequality.
“We cannot be neutral, right?” she said. “And then we’ve got to be curious and learn about trans people’s lives and the lives of people we love who have been hurt around gender. We’ve got to do that with curiosity and respect.”
The final component was healing.
“Trans people, their lives is not going to be made better by you helping them out,” Dr. Singh said. “Trans people’s lives are going to be made better when we all self-reflect on our own gender, how we’ve been hurt, how we’ve learned to live and be differently than we actually were born to be.”