THIS IS A TEXT ABOUT TOILETS

I loathe my body.


I despise the physicality of it, the concreteness of my existence, the lack of control that I have over it. I have no gender, but my body clings to the myriad of elements that deny my identity, trapping me into a constant battle between me and people’s perception of my existence.


Each day, most of my energy is spent trying to rearrange my body, pushing, straining, compressing it, so that people will not misgender us. But there is only so much that I can do. My body, like virtually all bodies, has certain immutable requirements, some of which obligate me to attend shared restroom facilities. As a student at the UvA, I must attend in person lectures and tutorials, so in these situations, my options are limited by what the University has made available to me. In most cases, I have to choose between using the bathrooms labeled for men, women, or the single lavatories that are equipped for mobility aids. Whatever of these I choose, I lose. I do not want to use the ‘accessible’ bathroom because I do not want to take the only space that is available to the people who need it, and I should not have to, but when I enter one of the other restrooms, the genderless impression that I have so strongly tried to create shatters. Most of the bathrooms that I have encountered in the University have multiple stalls, meaning that I very often encounter multiple people who learn how to interpret my body, who know how my body is structured and will understand me in that manner unless explicitly told otherwise.


I am fortunate enough that I do not incur the risk of being interpreted as incorrect when in a public restroom, which for some people could mean being attacked or abused, but I do not know when that might change. In my efforts to reshape my body, I could reach the point when neither location remains safe for me, and, even if I never make it, I should not have to face this situation. In their ‘Mission & Vision’, the UvA administration mentions wanting to create a space where “everyone feels welcome and safe”, but their decision to keep their bathrooms gendered establishes an environment in which many trans people like me cannot be comfortable. I do not have a quick and easy solution to offer. Changing the current structures will require time and investment, but I firmly believe that it is a necessary step if the University really wants to be as accessible as they claim. I may loathe my body, but I hold a deeper fury for the people and organizations that make my relationship with this physical existence a struggle that they force me to lose.

Link to the UvA quote: https://www.uva.nl/en/about-the-uva/about-the-university/mission-and-vision/mission-and-vision.html


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