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Rory Blundell, Bathroom Rights

Rory Blundell, Bathroom Rights

— By Minus18 | Photos by Georgia Smedley 21 June 2017
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At 21 years old, Minus18 Crew Member Rory runs education workshops to help others understand what gender identity and being trans is all about. 

 

I run LGBTIQ education workshops for students through Minus18. I love working with other young people and I really believe that that young people have a lot to contribute. I didn’t have anything like Minus18 growing up - a place where LGBTIQ people can connect and belong. When I moved to Melbourne I was incredibly jealous that others had the opportunity to be part of a community, so when I had the chance to join and run workshops that others can relate to and that validate their identity - I jumped on it. 

For me, advocacy is about dialogue and being someone that people could actually talk to, someone with a relatable experience. To help others through that is such an important thing. I would have loved to have access to that growing up.

So what are you working on at the moment?
I’m working towards getting into law and getting my black belt in martial arts. I guess I’m also working towards getting that acceptance of myself as well. I’ve socially transitioned (where I’ve come out as a transgender guy) but I want to find that balance in myself. I feel such a pressure to conform to that idea of what a guy is - so finding comfort within myself and navigating an identity that might not fit other people’s expectations. Oh - and working on finding a toilet really.

Bathroom access for trans people is a really visible topic at the moment. Talk me through it.
For a lot of people there isn’t a place where you can comfortably use the toilet - which sounds ridiculous - but it’s true. For a lot of trans people it’s quite intimidating to use bathrooms. There’s such an expectation of gender in these spaces, and there’s a real fear of being physically or verbally harassed just for wanting to use the bathroom.

People feel like they have authority to question you in a bathroom. I find that when I go to women’s bathrooms I get that look from people that’s the “Are you supposed to be in here?” uncomfortable thing. And I don’t really want to be in there, but in men’s bathrooms I have this immense fear of my physical safety and I find that really uncomfortable. It’s really tough, because I’m judged either way.

Any gendered space really has that. I’ve gone to the barber before and when they realise I’m a trans guy they literally just kicked me out saying they “don’t cut women’s hair”. 

Because I’m not on testosterone I’m often seen as a 15 year old boy. It might be easier to go on testosterone - but why should I have to just so I meet other people’s assumptions of what a man looks like? 

Like I just want my hair cut. I just want to pee. It seems so silly to be anxious about something so small but it’s generally quite upsetting. It usually means I won’t pee when I’m out or I have to hunt for a place that will give me a men’s haircut. 

What are the laws like here in Australia?
The laws actually work in trans people’s favour here, if you look at workplace discrimination for instance there shouldn’t be any policy or infrastructure that discriminates against people, so that does include toilets for trans people. But luckily Australia doesn’t have any laws that demands your birth certificate match the toilet you use, or anything like that. Thank God. 

The real problem is the disconnect between law and how that is actually implemented, so workplaces or schools in particular create their own policies, and a lot of the time they’ll be the ones to discriminate against trans people.

So what are you doing about it and what can others do?
I’m trying to create visibility by talking about it, and trying to emphasise in any work space I’m in and school too, talking about this issue that can be very easily fixed. 

So you can do things just as simply as relabelling toilets as Gender Neutral, especially when they are self contained. 

And if I’m ever at an event that’s supposed to be trans inclusive and they haven’t done that, that’s when I might raise my eyebrows. It’s such a small change that can make a huge difference to a lot of people.

 

 

This post has been created as part of the new Converse Pride Collection, launching June 2nd 2017. $10 from each pair sold goes to helping us support LGBTI youth Check them out here

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