Forum addresses transgender people and public restrooms – Greg Tasker

Ferndale – For Knoll Larkin and other transgender people, using a public restroom is often a harrowing experience.

“Bathrooms are sites of violence and harassment. Whether I use the women’s or men’s bathroom, I get harassed,” said Larkin, who is transitioning from female to male. “I’ve had people tell me I’m in the wrong bathroom. Or they’ll ask me to leave or they’ll leave. They’ll pull their children away. It’s frustrating.”

Larkin, 26, of Swartz Creek, was one of about 20 people who attended a town hall forum, “2 Pee in Peace: Making Bathrooms Accessible for Transgender People,” last week at the Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit in Ferndale. The forum included the viewing of a half-hour film, “Toilet Training,” which chronicled incidents in which transgender people across the country were harassed or arrested for using public bathrooms.

Organizers and participants hoped the two-hour forum would initiate dialogue about what the transgender community needs in terms of public restrooms and safety. They also hoped the forum would educate the non-transgender population about the issue.

“What this is all about is that bathrooms are a different situation for our community, and we don’t talk about it all that much. This is a chance to talk about this issue and support each other. It’s not easy being us sometimes. It’s nice to come together for support,” said Rachel Crandall, executive director of TransGender Michigan.