Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1122/32098
From The Socialist newspaper, 24 February 2021
LGBT+ history month
Tories tout toilet tensions
Maddy Steeds, Manchester and Salford Socialist Party
The Tory government has opened a call for evidence regarding the availability of men's and women's toilet facilities. The call suggests that women have been disadvantaged by the removal of gendered toilet facilities in favour of gender-neutral facilities. The call further suggests that the use of non-gendered language in signage causes 'public confusion'.
The lack of appropriate facilities that this call is aiming to address is not the fault of trans people and the movement towards more inclusive infrastructure, but is in fact due to the years of austerity we have faced in Britain. Councils have cut public restroom facilities, rather than fighting the Tories for the funding they need for these essential facilities and the rest of our public services.
Councils have got away with such cuts by instead getting private businesses to allow members of the public to use their facilities - if they are willing to buy from them.
For many working-class people, it is not feasible to buy a snack in a café just to gain access to essential facilities. For those with children, or medical or hygienic needs that require more frequent access to toilets, this can become very costly. In 2017, figures suggested that one in five people will avoid going out due to a lack of public toilets.
Trans people have long fought for the right to use bathrooms that match their gender identity. Many trans people have faced abuse when entering the bathrooms for being trans, and as a result may avoid using public restrooms for fear of attack. While at times there are gender neutral, disabled facilities available, many trans people would prefer not to use those facilities when others may need them.
This problem becomes more complicated for non-binary people, as neither male nor female facilities can feel appropriate.
For this group, gender-neutral facilities are essential, as they allow all people to feel comfortable using the bathroom and avoid feelings of displacement and dysphoria that can arise from using gendered facilities.
Overall, while the government consultation suggests that the lack of public restrooms is due to the increase of gender-neutral facilities, it is in fact years of austerity that have caused a lack of facilities across Britain.
We need councils that will fight to reverse the cuts to public facilities and will fight to use the local council's reserves to set no-cuts budgets. We also need to fight against the scapegoating of trans people in society, and fight for a socialist society that meets the needs of everyone.
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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.
The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.
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In The Socialist 24 February 2021:
Where's the road map to jobs and wages Boris?
Johnson's 'road map' for schools: Act together to protect safety
Vaccine algorithm can't solve capitalist inequality
Garment workers and Covid: Dying for less than minimum wage
What we think
Starmer's speech a return to New Labour
Justice for Moyied Bashir
Uber drivers win case - they are workers
Social care: End privatisation and let workers decide how it's run
Lessons from history
How militant trade unionism defeated the 1971 Industrial Relations Act
Usdaw elections - right makes gains but Broad Left builds
HMRC: Divisive pay deal leads to expulsions
Hinkley Point electricians fight 'deskilling'
"I'm here to fight for the future education of children in Hackney"
London bus dispute against low pay, pay cuts and longer hours
GMB members continue fight against 'fire and rehire' in British Gas
Scunthorpe steelworks scaffolders: Fifth week of action
Liverpool Unite branch supports 'no cuts' budget strategy
Scottish TUSC election campaign launch
Keep the fighting fund rushing in for a TUSC stand in May
W. Sussex children's centres on the chopping block
Coventry success building subscriptions
Socialist Students conference - postering
Save John Carroll Leisure Centre
Getting the Socialist out in lockdown
LGBT+ history month
Pride flag is about unity in struggle
Tories tout toilet tensions
Nigeria: Abbey Trotsky on trial for assisting workers' struggle
Facebook v Australian government: nationalise the bosses' media!
Film Review: The White Tiger
Tories admit guilt for asylum seeker neglect
Tories target universities in free speech shakedown
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