As of February 2021, the British government has begun an open consultation on “toilet provision for men and women.” In light of the continuous onslaught of aggression against trans bodily sovereignty and public health, this move can be plainly understood as another thinly-disguised attack on transgender and gender-nonconforming people. As violence against us escalates, the government hides its complicity in our oppression behind endless public consultations.
We have responded to these consultations relentlessly, only to be dismissed and ignored. It’s time to build something bigger.
What is going on? #
Under the guise of a public consultation, the British government is making a long-anticipated move to eliminate ‘gender-neutral’ toilets and more strictly police ‘single-sex’ ones. The purpose of this crackdown is to shut out trans and gender-nonconforming people, specifically with a view to preventing trans women from accessing women’s facilities. The framing of the consultation sends a message: that we — trans and gender-nonconforming people — have no right to exist in public.
This is nothing new: the public toilet has always been a site of political struggle. Throughout modern history, the provision of toilets has reflected who is assumed or allowed to exist in public space. Until the 20th century, public toilets for women largely did not exist in Britain, reflecting the dominant patriarchal belief that women belonged in the home. Massive disparities in numbers of women’s and men’s facilities have persisted into the late 1980s and even today. Similarly, disabled people have historically been excluded from infrastructure design, and have had to continually fight for facilities that fulfil a range of access needs.
These struggles are far from over. Many spaces, both public and private, still fail to provide suitable toilet access for disabled people, women, and non-binary people. Major employers (such as Amazon and other delivery companies) are known to prevent their workers from taking bathroom breaks, and private businesses frequently bar homeless people from using their facilities through the use of locks, passcodes, and customer-only policies. Toilet access is an issue of basic human need, and as such, it is also an issue of labour rights and social justice.
The issue of bathrooms points to bigger questions about capitalist society as a whole: whose needs are unquestioningly met in public spaces, and whose needs are never even considered? Why do we have to pay for services that we all need to survive? How do we organise for liberation in a society intent on our oppression?
What are we going to do about it? #
Our response to the bathroom consultation is simply this: we must exist in public spaces, and we will defend ourselves doing so.
BogOff is a campaign built to fight for equitable toilet access for all people — particularly those who are being denied it. We oppose this attack on the rights of trans and gender-nonconforming people to use toilet facilities in peace, and we hold that our struggle is inherently connected to the struggle of all workers, disabled people, and unsheltered people to access toilets as well.
We demand: #
- Provision of free and accessible public toilets, including gender-neutral facilities, especially in areas frequented by workers and unsheltered people
- Complete freedom for trans and gender-nonconforming people to use the facilities of their choice without harassment or policing
- Removal of existing financial and architectural barriers to facilities
We are sick and tired of consultations. Our communities cannot continue begging for our rights; we must claim them for ourselves. There is no harm in filling out a response or sending an email, but we have to recognise the limitation of such tactics: we know by now that those in power aren't asking what we want, they're testing whether they can get away with what they want. The government doesn’t care that trans people feel upset or threatened — they encourage the anti-trans respondents, those who pushed this consultation as part of a strategy to expunge us from public life. In the radical tradition of the LGBT movement, we need to get organised and take our liberation into our own hands.
Here are some first steps you can take: #
- Put up our stickers in toilets near you to tell transphobes to Bog Off, and raise others' consciousness about our struggle. Check our store to get some!
- Contact your union to get fellow workers organising around the connection between the push for anti-trans policies and other aspects of the struggle for toilet access at work. Not in a union? Join one today.
- Start a conversation with workers at local businesses or communities you’re a part of. Ask them about what they are doing to make their facilities safe and accessible for gender-nonconforming people, disabled people, homeless people, workers running on tight schedules, etc.
- Get in touch and share your thoughts. Whether you’re an individual wanting to help or a group with a new idea, we want this campaign to be yours as well as ours.
This is just the beginning. As we grow, we want to build BogOff to not just raise awareness about this issue, but to equip people and groups to actively create the changes we need. If spaces are not gender-neutral and accessible to all, we will make them so.
Visit the BogOff Store!
Our stickers are sold at cost, accounting for postage and payment processing fees. StoreEnvy also adds a charge. We've included a 'Solidarity Price' at each of the costs - buying this will allow us to provide campaign materials for below-cost or free to people in need of this, and may also allow us to reduce costs further by buying in larger quantities. If you can't afford the pricing, or if you or an organisation want to arrange a bulk purchase that circumvents store fees, get in contact with us below.
BogOff campaign is originated by Red Fightback, an intersectional Marxist-Leninist group organising in Scotland, England, and Wales.
You don’t have to know, support, or even like us to get involved with this campaign! What matters here is organising for trans liberation and in opposition to the government consultation on the provision of public toilets. This is a fight to claim our rights to health, safety, and dignity — a resistance against the continuing attempts to excise trans people from public existence.
To contact us, or for further information, check out our website.