It Must be a Joke!


Just as I begin to think I’m not an Alien and the world isn’t getting more insane by the minute, and the lettuces are beginning to grow and there are no signs of the sleepless slugs then Wham! I read a headline that threatens to send me into orbit again. However, I have learned to listen to my one and only husband (notice I’ve dropped the ‘so far’) and now I pause before I blow my top. And in that pause I realise a particular headline must be a joke, though a joke in rather bad taste.

Here is the headline in question: “Students call for sanitary bins to be placed in male toilets for transgender men on their periods.” You can tell the students involved are British because there’s no nonsense about ‘bathrooms’.

Birmingham and Cardiff universities are pressing for these changes with Southampton going one better. Students there have drawn up a “Trans Inclusion Policy.” The word ‘trans’ is defined as a “wide umbrella term, covering those who transcend traditional boundaries of gender and sex, those who are gender variant, and those whose gender identity does not match their assigned gender.” The statement goes on to say that the majority of negative experiences among trans students was caused by single sex toilets and changing rooms. “All suggestions for improvement included either the number of gender neutral toilets available, or adding sanitary bins to male toilets for men who menstruate.”

I’ll pause now while you either tear your hair or roll around laughing.

The NUS estimate there are about 28,000 trans out of a total student population of 2.3 million. Which means that a majority of female students would probably be made uncomfortable sharing a toilet with a bearded person with a penis, whereas many others would know it’s just a piece of nonsense.( You don’t imagine, do you, that there were any sanitary bins in that 28 seater Chinese toilet I was writing about last week. One can always make one’s own arrangements.) After all, students these days are not known for their tolerance, if unplatforming efforts and their need for safe spaces are anything to go by.

At this point I must declare an interest. I was once a student at Southampton. I was the first of my extended family to go to a university and my parents had to face widespread disapproval along the lines of “What’s the point. She’ll only get married.”

After the nurturing encouragement of a grammar school I learned to live in a most unsafe environment, surrounded by people much cleverer than I was, from all sorts of backgrounds, who constantly challenged my views and opinions and beliefs. For my first year I was usually out of my depth and frequently scared stiff but I thought that was why I was there—to grow, to develop, expand and stretch out to all that was out there.

Pondering on those days a thought suddenly struck me. Evolution doesn’t happen quickly; even half a century is just a blink of an eye. Students can’t have developed into alien beings in 50 years, therefore they must be having a joke—seeing what they can get away with. Alternatively, the few who have drawn up this inclusive policy document for the sake of menstruating men are quite sincere—sense of humour lacking activists—and the great mass of students are too busy finding un-safe spaces in which to grow, or merely grow up, to bother with bins of any sort, anywhere.

The clincher was provided by my one and only—a former President of Southampton University Students’ Union, who is convinced that the average student, these days, is likely to be a pembwl* gwyrion.


*tadpole. Some colloquial expressions don’t translate.

This blog looks very boring. For some reason it won’t let me add any photos.

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