Inclusion Or Exclusion? Bhopal To Have Separate Toilets For Transgender People

There’s been a lot of talk going on about the Transgender Bathroom Debate. Some people in conservative America seem convinced that it’s “dangerous” to have transgender people using bathrooms meant for either “men” or “women”. Some have even gone so far as to make ridiculous claims that transgender people might attack children inside said bathrooms.

Erm, it’s a bathroom! Pick a stall, do your business, and get on with it! It’s that simple! Or at least that’s how simple it would be. In a sane world. Anyway, this is what sane people have to say about this non-issue that’s being blown way out of proportion:


Now it looks like the transgender bathroom debate has finally made its way to India. The mayor of the Bhopal Municipal Corporation, Alok Sharma, announced yesterday,

Kinnars (as the transgender community is referred to) have to struggle for things that we take for granted. I have spent my childhood in the walled city and I am aware of their problems. Constructing a separate toilet for them also concurs with the directives of the Supreme Court… BMC will construct separate public toilets for the transgender community, beginning in areas where it is most needed, including near hospitals. Depending on the response to these toilets a decision will be made to create more such spaces in the future.


The hijra community has never had it good in India. Relegated to the sidelines, they’ve learned how to make do with what little they have. They’ve learned to live on the periphery of our world. In recent times, however, the transgender community has received some respite in that they have been recognized as the third gender by the Supreme Court of India and are being given employment opportunities, and, by extension, access to a life of dignity, that was heretofore denied them.


In a country where far too many people still do not have access to basic sanitation and sewage disposal needs; constructing bathrooms for the transgender community seems somewhat suspicious. Is this a move to include the transgender population into mainstream society? Or is it yet another way to tell them that they don’t belong? Could these bathrooms that are being presented as an altruistic thing end up becoming the new arenas where a marginalized community could be abused – physically, and more frighteningly, sexually?

The jury’s still out on the rationale/agenda behind the construction of separate transgender bathrooms, and on whether this idea will work for, or against, the transgender community. For now, the powers-that-be are claiming it’s a humane idea being executed in good faith. Here’s hoping!


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