Monday, 9 November 2015

Great news! Parliament is looking at introducing special bogs for transgender folk!

No, I'm not making this up. The story is in today's Telegraph, here. According to the paper:
MPs could get transgender loos as part of a series of recommendations being made in a “gender insensitivities” review into the House of Commons. Sarah Childs, a professor of gender and politics is currently being seconded by the University of Bristol to carry out an independent assessment of inequalities facing men and women in Parliament. One of the areas professor Childs is looking into is whether Parliament should provide more lavatory facilities for transgender people and women.

I have no idea why Bristol University should feel the need for a "professor of gender and politics" in its School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies. According to her entry on the university's website, "My research centres on the relationships between sex, gender and politics. It is concerned, both theoretically and empirically, with questions of women's descriptive, symbolic and substantive representation." (Huh?) Professor Childs also mentions new research "on how women representatives experience and act in the UK parliament as gendered institution." I don't have a clue what that last bit means either, but there may be some words missing. Who knows? Who cares?

When I first read the Telegraph headline, I thought it was referring to those disconcerting single-occupant unisex toilets one sometimes encounters on the continent, but, no, they're seriously thinking of introducing special khazis for members for members of the transgender community, of whom (as I pointed out recently here) there are estimated to be a maximum of 2,500 in the whole of Britain.

As was shown in Michael Cockerell's excellent documentary series, Inside the Commons, shown on BBC Two earlier this year, the Houses of Parliament are in a dreadful state of disrepair - they're literally falling to pieces. Estimates of how much it would cost to refurbish the enormous complex go as high as £7.1bn. When it comes to the question of whether we should spend that much money on an institution whose members haven't exactly covered themselves in glory in recent years, I probably find myself in a tiny minority of tax-payers (although there are probably more than 2,500 of us) who think it would be money well spent. But I might change my mind if the plans include the sort of silly virtue-signalling folderol represented by transgender toilets - quite enough of our money has already been wasted on ludicrous projects solely designed to make liberal-left, identity-politics compassion-mongers feel really good about themselves.

Women's toilets? Well, fine, obviously - depends on practical considerations, such as numbers of potential users and average time spent on each visit (considerable, judging by the lengthy, slow-moving queues for the Ladies at public events). Besides, there's a very simple rule for transgender people to follow when deciding whether to use male or female toilets - are they equipped to pee standing up, i.e. do they possess a penis? There - sorted. What gender they "identify" as is irrelevant, and if they're in the middle of being physically transformed they can do what the rest of us do in extremis and sneak into the Disabled toilets, which are almost invariably empty.

Professor Childs will be spending several months in parliament, no doubt wasting the time of MPs (mind you, that's no bad thing in itself). Her final report, due next year, will "set out the agenda to meet the international standard for a 'gender-sensitive parliament'. Overseen by an advisory board, which is chaired by the Speaker John Bercow, as well as a panel of cross-party MPs, male and female, the secondment will: 'Address issues of inequality and existing gender insensitivities at Westminster, and instigate a process of reform.'"

Oh, goody!


  1. I am afraid that this post seriously calls into question whether the Gronmark household is a sufficiently gendered institution. In particular, your outmoded male/female stereotyping of micturitional positioning options shows that both theoretically and empirically you are guilty of gender insensitivity on a truly epic scale. I very much doubt whether Professor Childs will be calling on you to help with the much-needed process of reform by joining her advisory board.

  2. "....are they equipped to pee standing up, i.e. do they possess a penis?" In Switzerland, gentlemen living in an apartment block are required to sit down to take a pee after 11 pm so the problem is partially solved. Also, it is against the law to mow the lawn on a Sunday. Like the Norwegians the Swiss are not members of the EU and can pass any law they want.

  3. I've been thinking of returning to the local book group which, sadly, I had to leave off attending due to chronic fatigue last summer - a pity, because I used to enjoy the monthly meetings. It forced me to read the sorts of books I wouldn't normally bother with, and, as a result, I got to read some absolutely wonderful novels. I almost went along to last night's meeting, but decided to leave it till next month. Narrow escape, as last night's book turns out to have been "The Danish Girl" by David Ebershoff. Inevitably, the central character in the novel is a transexual. There's a film version starring Eddie Redmayne due out in January. I so can't wait.

    I wonder how one gets back through the looking-glass.