A transphobic incident reportedly took place last week at the women’s restroom of the Reynolds Bar at Charing Cross Hospital, against a member of women’s rugby.
The trans student involved was grabbed by the arms in an attempt to forcefully eject them from the women’s restroom. Thankfully one of the student’s team players was there to explain and help pacify the situation before there was a chance for escalation. “We both went to the women’s bathroom. When we entered there were several girls there already, one girl turned around and starting yelling “Boy in the bathroom”, and grabbed [me] by the arm and starting dragging me out the bathroom. My friend backed me, going “No, no, they’re not a boy: they’re non-binary”.
“They then got very awkward and I was ushered towards the next free cubicle. My friend initiated a conversation with them, where the girl initially refused to apologise, with a line of thought “How was I supposed to know”. I quickly left the bathroom, and said “It was fine, it happens all the time”, I just didn’t want to make a big deal about it, or let it ruin the night.” Such experiences are not rare amongst Imperial’s trans population. Most trans students are uncomfortable in gendered toilets and will usually try and find one that is gender neutral, especially during big socials, when people tend to drink and are more likely to act inappropriately.
While Imperial has made some progress, introducing several gender neutral toilets in the last couple of years, there is still a lot of work to be done. The Union bar gender-neutral toilet, for example, is almost always in use, as is the Metric gender-neutral toilet, due to it being the nearest one to the dancefloor. This means that, despite such facilities existing, trans students don’t necessarily have easy access to a gender neutral option.
“I often have problems in bathrooms, but this was the first time it was physical, and had I been alone or in an unfamiliar environment, or had I not been significantly larger than the girl, it would have been a lot more of a upsetting experience. Some of my friends following this continued to argue with the girl about her actions and many of my friends at rugby kept on checking I was okay. I have had far more transphobic experiences in the Reynolds toilets compared to the Union or any other at Imperial.”
Allegedly, one of the students involved in the incident later lodged a complaint with the Reynolds Bar management. We have reached out to the management for comment.
Amendment: The Reynolds management has issued the following statement since the publication of this article:
"We have not received any complaints regarding any transphobic incidents in the Reynolds Bar. Imperial College Union stands firmly against transphobia, and we are proud of the work we have done with Imperial's trans community to improve access to facilities, sports and activities.
"If any transphobic behaviour is found in any of our spaces, we will act swiftly to remove the perpetrator and call for disciplinary action against them."