A fundamental right to bodily privacy

This is what happens when you cater for the exceptions in society.

The AskMeFirst campaign which was launched in February has released its second YouTube video highlighting the decision of Auckland University of Technology (AUT) to reassign over 165 toilets to be All-Gender toilets – a decision labelled by a group of current students as ‘irresponsible’, ‘backward’, culturally insensitive and unsafe.

“We were contacted by a number of current female students of AUT who were concerned with the decision but said they were never consulted on the changes and also feel that it would be unsafe to speak up. It is shocking that they are made to feel this intimidated in expressing their view on such a personal safety issue – a view that is probably held by many others students, including male students,” says spokesperson and researcher Rachel McKenzie.

“Students have a fundamental right to bodily privacy. Being around a biological male, in a bathroom or changing room, for women and girls who have been a victim of sexual or physical violence can be a trigger for them. The need for privacy in bathrooms and changing rooms for vulnerable young girls also becomes even more important in light of the emotional and physical changes we experience as women.”

In a touch of irony, some of the female toilets became All-Gender, but the male toilets stayed male. The students called out AUT on this. Anika (not her real name) asks “If AUT is all for equality, how is this an option that gives all students equal rights? AUT should be protecting its female students. This decision doesn’t make sense and is irresponsible and unethical in many regards.”

Pacific Island students Flora and Vivienne (not their real names) argue that the decision is culturally inappropriate and unsafe, and is effectively excluding their society group.

“The Ask Me First campaign simply requests that in considering such changes, the safety and comfort of all students deserves equal consideration. These students were never asked their opinion. They are simply saying – ‘Please, Ask Me First’,” says Rachel McKenzie.

A recently released report which analysed over 200 peer-reviewed studies in the biological, psychological, and social sciences, concluded that the belief that gender identity is an innate, fixed human property independent of biological sex – so that a person might be a ‘man trapped in a woman’s body’ or ‘a woman trapped in a man’s body’ – is not supported by scientific evidence.

In other words, it’s a mental disorder.

Not one of the more debilitating ones, admittedly, but wanting to have a different body from the one that your parents gave you is, so far, scientifically all in their heads.

So stop dicking around and just provide toilets that allow for privacy no matter which combination of plumbing, identity or personal jollies people get from pretending to be what they are not.

The thing that really makes me sad about Universities is that going to the toilet is such a widely debated issue with screeds of research and man person hours invested, but you want to run a single European Club, you get run out of town before the ink on your posters is dry.

 

 


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