Transgender People Are Harassed and Assaulted in Public Bathrooms, Survey Says

San Francisco Weekly
By Rigoberto Hernandez
June 25, 2013

Relieving yourself outside the comfort of your own bathroom will give even the overly confident some understandable anxiety. But for transgender people, it’s more than just nerve-racking, it’s dangerous, according to a survey released this week.

The survey, published in the Journal of Public Management and Social Policy, found that 70 percent of responders have been denied entrance, were harassed or assaulted when attempting to use a public restroom of their identifying gender.

And it’s no surprise that these traumatic experiences affect the daily life of transgender people, the survey points out. More than half of respondents reported having physical problems, including dehydration or kidney infections, because they “held it” to avoid using public bathrooms.

More than half also said they have skipped leaving the house because they didn’t feel safe in public, the study says.

In addition, more than 25 percent of respondents say they experience problems using bathrooms at work, which, in some cases, was the reason they left or changed jobs. About 10 percent of respondents who attend school reported having excessive absence rates or dropped out.

Although the survey focuses on the Washington D.C. population, researchers say the problems could be more widespread as transgender people become more visible.

The Transgender Law Center found similar results in San Francisco when it completed a a similar survey in 2002. Herman said she is not sure how much has changed in the City, however this problems seem to occurring nationwide.

“Just because it took place in D.C. doesn’t meant they aren’t having those problems elsewhere,” she said.

The survey concluded that cities should adopt laws that explicitly give transgender people legal protection in bathrooms. Additionally, it recommends creating unisex bathrooms to avoid the problem altogether.

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