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December 7, 2008

Last Class

This Tuesday (12.9) is our final class. As I mentioned last week, there is no reading assignment. Instead, we will end by talking about the course--what you learned, what you liked/didn't like, etc. Also, you will be filling out your course evaluations. See you then!

December 5, 2008

Due date extended for final critical responses + annotated bibliography

In class this past Tuesday, I extended the deadline for your final critical responses and your annotated bibliography. You may turn them in (without penalty) as late as (but no later) than 5 PM on Friday 12/12. You may turn in hard copies to my mailbox in FORD 425 or email them as word documents. Please save them in an earlier version of word (not docx). I will also accept other assignments (engaging assignments, extra credit) up until that date, although those assignments will be marked down for lateness.

December 2, 2008

Safe Spaces - Kim Hanlon

Places I feel safe include:
My apartment
My girlfriend's house
Caribou (work 1)
Parent's house
Warehouse (work 2)

I feel safe in the places I visit most often. I try to steer away from those places that I do not feel safe at. Some of the places that I do not feel safe include certain sporting events, straight bars, and certain restaurants. I do not feel safe at these places because I get this sense of threat. The sense stems from mostly the feeling of the straight men around me who I get the sense of that they feel somewhat, somehow, threatened by me being in the same space as them. I do not know what it is, but it is just this lingering feeling that I get when I am around certain people. I try and stay away from such people, but I do not go out of my way to in any way, shape or form change my plans because of such people. I will not change where I sit because of them, but I also do not go out of my way to make my presence overly known to them either. I will say that I do feel most safe around other queer/GLBT people and/or atmospheres. It is just a sense of belonging and feeling accepted and "normal". One place where I thought I would feel the most inclusive, but where I have found that I am more of an outsider than anything else, is around my hockey team and community including staff. The one place where I thought for sure I would feel accepted and included I feel more pushed away. Some of them acknowledge me and my sexuality, but others avoid and make me feel more like a non-member than anyone else. It is saddening to me, but it is what it is.

Safe spaces

Places I visit in one day:

My house in a rural/suburban area.
The woods (for a walk)
The University of Minnesota Press
The streets of Minneapolis
Campus
My classroom

In keeping a log of the places that I visit during the day, I found that I considered most of them to be very safe. I am lucky enough to live outside of a small town where I am surrounded mostly by fields, trees, and the occasional small, family house. I feel very safe in this area, though I imagine being a gender queer person inside of the town would make me feel differently. I find that the people in my small town are very kind, but with an older, rural population it is likely that some people might hold prejudices against GLBT people. After this, I commute to the cities where I intern at the University of Minnesota press. Being a very liberal and academic setting, I have no doubt that I would feel safe in this space no matter who I was, or what I looked like.

Next I head to class where I walk through the streets of Minneapolis as well as the campus. Urban Minneapolis is probably the most unsafe place that I travel through during a day, but I have never felt unsafe in this space. I imagine my reaction might be different however, if I appeared to be gender queer or otherwise "different." I feel that campus is a relatively safe space to exist in. It still has the occasional mishaps, but as far as urban spaces go, the campus is likely one the safer spaces that one could find.

When I think about all of the places that I visit, I find myself making exceptions for GLBT people, because I feel that these places would likely seem at least less safe for those individuals. When I think about the possibility of being robbed or injured it is primarily because I have something expensive on my person and feel I might be a target because of it, and then only if I am in a less-than-savory neighborhood - never simply because of the way that I am expressing my gender or sexuality.

For GLBT people, I believe that a space is safe when it contains individuals who are educated as well as open minded. Sadly, the number of places of which this is true are relatively few and far between. I believe spaces can become dangerous when it's inhabitants are ignorant and have been indoctrinated against those who are unlike themselves. I don't know that spaces in and of themselves are necessarily safe or unsafe. I believe that a space that breeds ignorance is unsafe and one that promotes inclusiveness and open-mindedness is safe.

~Erin

The Club House

Safe space. It's funny now that I think about it. Where do I feel safe? Given some thought I find that it's not places that come to mind, but people I feel safe around. My sister, my friends, my roommates and neighbors in the dorm, my boyfriend; these are the people I feel safe around, that I feel safe being myself. That's what a safe space is about right? Being able to let lose, let go. Not having to stress about keeping an image up all the time. Feeling safe means you can be who you are. It's the people that make the space. There's nothing inherent in the places themselves; it's the people that occupy it that make it matter. Likewise, safe places can quickly become unsafe depending on whether the wrong people show up or not. The only reason these places remain the way they are is that the people there decide to. It can be something as easy as living there to actively making it a safe place. Either way, it's the people that make the space safe.

A few places I frequent are: my dorm, my house, classes, Target, the mall, and Riverdale.

My dorm and classes I’d rate safe. Target, Riverdale, and the mall I’d rate mostly safe. And home I’d rate mostly unsafe.

When I say safe I mean for myself. In these spaces it’s socially acceptable to be who I am. It would be unsafe for people who can’t be who they are, who deviate from the expected norm in those spaces. This is the reason why safe space is important. You can relax there. Take this example. In my safe spaces I feel like I can be my gay self and not get hurt, physically or mentally. Maybe that means excluding the people that would react like that. Maybe my safe space isn’t a safe space for them. Maybe safe space is like a clubhouse. Certain people get in, certain people stay out.

Sonya Boeser Critical Response #6 (last one)

Sonya Boeser
GLBT Critical Response #6

Response to Transgender Studies Reader article:
“Divided Sisterhood?

A summary of this article is that it is actually a summary in itself. The author of the article, Carol Riddell, critically analyzes Janice Raymond’s book The Transsexual Empire, saying that the arguments in the book “present a picture of transsexualism that is empirically false (p. 144). In this response, I will be discussing both how I agree with Carol Riddell’s criticisms, and disagree with Janice Raymond’s arguments about transsexuals.
Raymond is a feminist; many feminists are pro-GLBT, but Raymond believes that transgendered and transsexual people present a problem to society. This, as Carol Riddell points out, shows that feminism can support a broad range of opinions and positions. Riddell makes a valid and effective statement on page 145: “Trans-sexuals are not a major social problem. We have some curiosity value to the media as freaks. This occasionally results in incredibly naïve statements from trans-sexuals conned by publicity, which can be incredibly irritating to feminists, but trans-sexual women are not now, nor ever will be, a threat to the female sex’s existence.? Again, I will say that this is an effective, true, ad valid argument.
Some ineffective arguments made by Raymond in her book are “Trans-sexual women are not women. They are deviant males. Trans-sexual men are not men, but women? (145). Another incredibly blind sighted argument is “The practice of trans-sexual surgery, in its blindness to the wider human ethics of the trans-sexual problem, has parallels to the Nazi experimentation in concentration camps? (147). How can transsexual women be men if they have chosen to live as women, and even altered their bodies to be women? How can transsexual men be women if they have done these same things? Why is genital surgery “experimentation,? if it is done with consent from the person having the surgery? All of Raymond’s arguments against transsexualism are illogical.
This article provides an accurate description of the world because of the fact that everyone has their own opinion. Sometimes strong opinions (like feminism) that you think might connect to other opinions (like support for transsexuals) do not meet up. I, for one, support GLBT rights but do not believe in abortion as I know many gay and lesbian people do. This article is also important because (after bisexuals) the Trans community is probably one of the most overlooked and ignored groups of the GLBT community that I know of. Books and articles of hate and discrimination that are published should be looked at thoroughly by the publishers before they send them out to the community at large. There are other books that are published, such as Kate Bornstein’s stories and poems, which fight against this kind of discrimination; those are the books that the community needs to be paying attention to.

Sonya Boeser Critical Response 5

Sonya Boeser
GLBT Critical Response #5

Response to “All Together Now: Intersex Infants and IGM?, in Queer Theory, Gender Theory by Riki Wilchins.

The main story told in this chapter of Riki Wilchins’ book is a story about a baby named Charlie who had unidentifiable genitals and was thus labeled as a female named Cheryl since the doctors transformed the genitals into a vagina. Wilchins tells us that the term “intersex? is the correct term to describe people with ambiguous genitals; “hermaphrodite? is frequently used and yet is an archaic medical term. Using this word makes people think of a person with both kinds of sets of genitals, though this is impossible. Other things mentioned in the chapter are ways that politics has tried to prevent females from becoming too ‘butch’, and males from becoming too ‘sissy.’
Wilchins very effectively addresses the issues with doctors today and the decisions being made to label babies with “incorrectly sized genitals? as male or, in most cases, female. One quote says, “If your organ is less than three-eighths of an inch long, it’s a clitoris and you’re a baby girl. If it’s longer than an inch, it’s a penis and you’re a baby boy? (p. 80). The next paragraph states how common it is for babies to have genitals that are in between these measurements, and how “through the miracle of modern Science? you can be transformed into a normal baby girl. The argument that the doctors make about changing intersex babies into females relates to Lydia’s presentation, and her quote: “It is easier to dig a hole than to build a pole.?
The story about the transformation from Charlie to Cheryl addresses limitations of the medical profession today. Wilchins’ chapter on intersexuality has no limitations or bad arguments, but the issues that she raises for the reader to learn about are things that need to change. For example, “Charlie was a year and a half old when…doctors decided that Charlie was actually a Cheryl. This meant that his small penis was actually an abnormally large clitoris. So they cut it off? (73). At a year and a half old, babies are still developing their personality. Their organs are still developing, and speaking of organs, did Charlie have a womb? Why did they change Charlie into a woman if he did not have interior organs that were female? It should be up to the actual intersex person to decide what happens to their genitals, once they are old enough and mature enough to make such a decision.
The information in this chapter is relevant to what we have been talking about in class, because every person is their own person and should be in charge of what happens to their bodies. Just like all people should be allowed to use whatever toilet they want to use. All people should be allowed to make the choice about surgeries for themselves. This reading makes me wonder about people more because “are you intersex?? is not really an appropriate question to ask someone. But if many children with ambiguous genitalia are being turned into females (maybe males), I would like to know who they are and if they chose to have it done.

Safe Spaces

There are a lot of unsafe spaces in everyday life. In my opinion, any space that does not promote respect for individuality is not a safe space. Also, any place, public and private, can turn unsafe at anytime, like when a person is put in a vulnerable position. I have always taken the freedom to walk into a women’s bathroom without fear for granted. However, I can understand how sexed bathrooms can be a daunting place, especially when one really needs to use it.

This is the way I look at it: A place is as safe as I allow it to be (unless my life is in danger, of course). I can step into the most conservative anti-gay place and still feel safe if I don’t allow other people’s opinions make me feel bad. Safe spaces come in both a physical form of a safe place AND how mentally safe you feel. If you put yourself in safe places AND mentally tell yourself that everything will be ok, chances are, the place will become safe to you.

These are the places I have been in the last few days:
- My home
- My girlfriend’s family’s place
- The U of MN campus
- Queer Student Cultural Center at the U
- My old high school

I generally feel safe at home. My family is accepting of me, for which I am very fortunate.

I went to my girlfriend’s family’s place for Thanksgiving. We were surprisingly greeted with opened-arms, despite how closed minded some of the people were there. Even though I knew there were people there glancing at us (because of our sexuality), I never felt unsafe. Sometimes it felt like the space was safer for me and my girlfriend than for the people who were looking at us. I don’t really know why – maybe it’s because she and I don’t let people’s opinions bother us… and on the contrary, the other people are afraid of our ‘lifestyle’ and our opinions.

The U of MN campus: Feeling accepted and safe was one of the main reasons I picked this university. I feel safe enough on campus that I can be an out-Asian-tomboy-lesbian on campus. I spend a lot of my time on campus at the QSCC (Queer Student Cultural Center). This space is probably the safest place I can go, not because this place accepts my sexuality, but the people here accept everyone overall.

My old high school: I went to a small charter school in Northfield, MN. I felt safe there generally but unfortunately they do not have a GSA or GLBT group for youth there. I think that the young people need a safe place to go to because as a teen coming out, I sometimes wish I had a home away from home to be myself.

Everyone needs a safe place to go to, public and private, for any reason. This would make for a happier world, I believe, if everyone had some where to go.


Alyssa Sison

Safe Spaces

The Mega Bus
Alterra Coffee Shop
My Roommates Mothers house
Walmart

Over the course of this assignment, I guess you can say I purposely chose location that I knew I would find myself and that I could talk about. I went back to Wisconsin for break and in doing so I had to catch the Mega Bus which most UofM students utilize for its cheap fares. The bus itself is obviously not a “Safe Space? or welcoming in anyway to person who expresses a different gender than what there physical appearance my project, but its bathroom is Gender Non specific letting any person who has to use the restroom, able.
But that doesn’t change the fact of the stares you may receive while entering the bathroom or even making your way toward it. I was accompanied on the Bus by my close Trans friend and she hates trying to make her way to the bathroom and usually holds it until we reach our rest stop. I myself do not have this problem so I did use my friend as an example through the locations I chose.
After returning to Milwaukee with my roommate and our friend, the next morning we eat lunch at a near by coffee shop called ‘Alterra’. The space is hands down GLB friendly, I guess like most trendy coffee shops, but Trans I am not to sure. The bathroom my friend exclaimed our nice because they are hidden around the corner and they lock once inside, she felt no pressure to use the men’s bathroom. So I am not sure if I would consider Alterra a safe space or not. The environment is welcoming and the bathrooms we secluded…
My roommate’s Mom’s house is quite GLBT friendly, my roommate is an ally and a GLBT Minor (trying to make it a major). Her mom is super open and friendly and is willing to talk to you about anything…maybe. Heh! For Thanksgiving my roommates mom had her daughter the ally, two gay males (one being myself) and a trans (m+f) in her home for Thanksgiving and we never brought up gender or sexuality and if it did it would probably never be in any negative context. This being a kind of “Safe Space’ that kind of reminds me of the QSCC on the second floor of Coffman. Making you feel safe and welcome and almost forget you live in a world that is so judgmental on sex, gender and of course race.
The last place I used for my assignment was the Wal-Mart in Milwaukee Wisconsin on Capital. It was predominantly African American and I had grown up in that neighborhood but accepting is not something I could say about exists within those blocks or store. Within the first few seconds of entering the store I was being glared at up and down, and my friend was called out by a young man “Man! That’s a dude!? Not a safe place what so ever.
Its obvious that homes can be more of a ‘safe space’ as well as few public places. Buses are almost always a no and neighbor hoods in which your sexuality of gender is not of common.
After doing this assignment is so apparent that you cant always go home to use a bathroom and you cant always hope while driving through somewhere if a place is going to be accepting or not. The privilege of ‘Gender’ is not something that most people even the GLB community thinks about really, I know I don’t. It was hard to be so self conscious about it for a week. I can only imagine stessing about this on a daily basis.

Unsafe spaces in the twin cities

This project comes from the Twin Cities Avengers, an all-inclusive queer direct action group committed to dismantling all forms of oppression.

According to Jill Bartel (a GWSS major), "right now the Avengers have created an interactive map for folks to record personal experiences of "gender injustice" (or any kind/multiple kinds of "identity injustice") that limit your everyday mobility. we are operating from the assumption that instances of street harassment happen all the time, and for many reasons are not documented. once we have a substancial number of posts we hope to use our map to reclaim public space using a variety of methods. feel free to email suggestions for how to best act upon the results of your experiences to tcavengers@gmail.com. most of the posts already on the site are examples in which folks were verbally or physically harassed or attacked as a result of their sexuality, race, and/or gender presentation. we are open to any and all submissions. please read the posting guidelines. the link to the map is www.tinyurl.com/unbashtc".

Safe Spaces

There isn’t a whole lot of variation in the spaces that I consume on a day-to-day basis. The safety of these spaces of course varies depending on the circumstance, and also changes when considering physical or emotional safety. My work, shipping and receiving at Barnes and Noble, is usually less physically safe than emotionally safe, unless I happen to be working near an ex of mine that day. At home is usually emotionally and physically safe for me, unless my mom happens to be in a rage or one of my pets happens to be sick. My significant other’s house is probably the most “unsafe? place, as there I have routinely happened upon information I would rather not have known.

Considering the video we watched in class the other day, Toilet Training, I do not face such identity of safety crises in any place that transgendered people face merely using a public restroom. Not every space is perhaps as gender binary-ed as a bathroom, but really I think transgendered people would experience many places that I usually find to be safe as potentially unsafe. It’s hard to determine exactly what spaces are unsafe, as this is usually at the whim of other people who inhabit said space.

A space is usually safe if the people in that space are similar to each other. A fight might be more likely to break out and threaten someone’s safety if maybe a flamboyantly gay guy walked into a bar filled with burly tough guys. In trying to think of situations that would be unsafe, its always the minority in a situation that would feel unsafe. GLBT people usually are the minority in most situations (with obvious exceptions, like pride parades or our GLBT class), and thus are more likely to lack in safe spaces that more visibly normal people like myself might take for granted.

engaging assignment #5

Safe Spaces
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I decided to take the whole break to pay attention to what spaces that I use that are safe for GLBT peoples. Over the break, I did a lot of things: I went to concerts, I went to both of my places of employment, and I went to the movie theater and other places. In all of these places, I asked myself if these areas would be considered safe for glbt persons. I especially looked at the bathrooms to see if they would be safe for transgendered persons. Even though I was expecting the majority to places to be unsafe, I was surprised especially with bathrooms.
I found that the spaces that I frequent are quite safe for glbt persons. Both of my places of employment, the Walker Art Center and a store in Minneapolis are safe, as long as the person in question fits into a higher socioeconomic situation. They people that would not feel welcomed are those that are not middle to upper class.
Going out to bars, I can see how some spaces would not be safe. Over the break, I went to two bars. One of the bars was more of a music venue, and that seemed to be a safer space than the bar that did not have live music. In the bar without music, there were more groups of people that seemed to be watching each other and drunk people that wanted to fight. In the bar with the live music, nobody was really paying attention to the other bar-goers, they were mostly watching the band. In both of the bars, the bathrooms were gender specific. I don’t think that the ladies rooms would be an issue in either bathroom because of the stalls, but in the men’s bathrooms, there were only urinals and in one of the bathrooms, a toilet that didn’t have a stall around it. I don’t think that would be considered a safe space.
The idea of not being able to go to the bathroom and feel safe is an idea that I hadn’t really thought about before. Potty Training really pushed me to think about the privileges that I have that I don’t think about.

After recording every place I went I could not come up with a place that was dangerous. But I did come up with one thing that most of these places have in common that would quickly turn them from same places in to dangerous places, and that is anywhere that you have to show an id. Although I did not encounter any safety issues myself, my id is questioned A LOT…and I mean A LOT. I look young and it seems people do not want to believe I am 21. This is a minor nuance and I usually have to show a second form of id in which case I often dump my entire wallet of credit cards on to the counter with my name plastered across each one, declaring, “SEE! I AM AMANDA ERICKSON! THIS IS ME!?
This weekend I encountered this at the following places where I was required to show identification: the liquor store, the gas station, Bath and Body Works, Boynton Health Center, the pharmacy, and Mall of America (they did not think I was 16 so they needed to see an id). With how upset I was after the Mall of America incident (which if you ask me is incredibly prejudice of people’s age to ask to see an id only of people that look young, although we have not committed any kind of crime and are going about our own business) I got so infuriated that I started thinking about the jerks that usually are checking ids. I felt that my dignity and rights were being stripped because of how I look. Then I started thinking about GLBT 1001 and the topics we have been discussing in class and this assignment. What if I had an id in which I was a “female? but I was a man? Or what if my id classified me as a “male? but I was a woman? The discrimination I felt that day could not even begin to compare to the amount of discrimination I would receive if the sex on my id did not match my gender.
I cannot imagine how unsafe these situations would be if you do not have identification that looks like you and categorizes you as the gender you feel the most comfortable in. I think that if I were a transgender individual I would want to be the one causing violent because it is infuriating to have an id questioned or have people tell you it is fake. If it were for a reason like that I can see how violence could easily start. I also can imagine the jerks who usually ask for the ids to start violence because of their bigoted, ignorant, and entitled power-trips they are on.
I was very surprised that literally every place a transgender individual goes to that requires a form of identification is a place of potential danger. Every place, whether well-lit, in public, in private, in broad day light etc. can become unsafe in the blink of an eye because you never know how the person who is looking at your id is going to react. They could harass you verbally, make snide remarks, or just simply resort to violence. It is sad that this is the kind of world we live in.
-Amanda Erickson

Engaging Assignment #5

For my list, I decided to keep track of two vastly different days in my life--a day in my hometown for the holidays (which means more people who know me are present) and a day here in Minneapolis, in my usual routine. These are the main places I frequent:
-My parents' house
-Stores/restaurants/bars around Ironwood (my hometown)
-My previous college
-My apartment
-Jefferson Community School (workplace #1)
-U of M classrooms and common areas
-U of M gamerooms (workplace #2)

My parents' house is hard to classify. While I can't imagine my parents or sister ever doing anything to harm me in any way, it still speaks volumes that I'm not out to them--clearly some mental or emotional safety point is being compromised for me, and so by all technicalities my parents' house is not a "safe space�? because I can't be who I am there, and pretend to be someone else to avoid some kind of unpleasant situation. Stores/restaurants/etc. around my hometown aren't safe spaces either. I'm out to 3 people in my entire hometown, and I would actively fear for my safety if I were to try and, say, use the men's restroom at this point (pre-T, pre-anything else). I can't think of a place that has a unisex bathroom in my hometown, either, so that option is out the window. My previous college is almost like an entirely different community within my hometown, and while I wouldn't feel completely safe there, I would feel exponentially safer within their walls than I would in the rest of Ironwood. 2 of the 3 people I'm out to in Ironwood are previous professors and subsequent good friends of mine, and they're nothing but supportive of me. I can't imagine that other staff in the building wouldn't be, either. The students could sometimes be called into question, though, so that's why I'd classify GCC as somewhat of a safe space. My apartment here in Minneapolis is also about half of a safe space. While it's my apartment and I do what I want, when I want, my roommate is also oblivious to my transgender status and I have no idea if she would be supportive or not. So, to keep myself safe in my home, for the time being I let her call me by whatever name/pronoun combo and try to not let it get to me.
Jefferson Community School is also half of a safe space. While the program staff that I work with in Americorps are all completely aware and supportive of me, the District staff and students are not, and after much pronoun confusion are often blatantly disrespectful (yes, some teachers, too). Luckily we have a unisex staff bathroom in the building, so that makes things much easier. However, it's still tentatively safe; I work with middle school kids, and I'm a small guy so I tend to try to not stir the waters too much, especially if I don't have all of the staff on my side. The U of M classrooms, common areas, and gamerooms have been, by far, the safest space I've encountered thus far. I haven't encountered one problem on campus, and for the most part am confident in using the men's restroom wherever I go. While I had mentioned before that technically my employment with SUA isn't protective of my gender identity, my specific supervisors are more than supportive and are amazing--one even called SUA'S HR people in disgust when she found out that transgender people aren't protected in the EEO policy. While there have been instances where I've felt intimidated on campus, I can count on one hand the amount of times I've felt that way, and the support I've received otherwise seems to compensate for those few times.
These spaces are important because it's impossible to constantly operate as if you're in danger--and if it is possible, it's detrimental to your health. Beyond that, a society without safe spaces can't last because eventually it will self-destruct.
It's hard for me to classify things I encounter as safe for anything other than gender, to be honest. Being white certainly is a privilege and I would have no idea what it's like to not feel safe in that manner. And when I identified as lesbian, 95% of that time was spent in Southern California in places that I can't ever imagine being discriminatory toward anyone for anything; pretty much, my brain interprets things in terms of gender these days. But I am reminded of something one of my 8th grade boys told me during class one day regarding underground gangs and racial prejudice in Minneapolis--he said something like "You can be in danger anywhere you go, it just depends on who's there at the same time.�?

December 1, 2008

Safe Space?

In my compiling of the list of locations I inhabit on a daily basis, surprisingly, none of them feel unsafe to me. Unless I am alone at night, I usually do not question whether or not my surroundings could be particularly threatening to me.

My Dorm Room: This is a personal space where I live everyday, surrounded by my own belongings and a roommate whom I trust. The doors lock when I want them to and I rarely feel unsafe here. I think this would apply to a member of the GLBT community as well. Besides the sparse mentioning of the rape of a young girl in my residence hall last year, I rarely feel unsafe here in the dorms.

Women’s Restroom: Again, at the dorms. A single sex restroom in which I always feel welcome and safe. As far as a I know, the residence hall conforms to a binary gender system in relation to bathroom assignment. This could be considered unsafe and or at least uncomfortable for someone who is not entirely considers “normally gendered? by common society standards.

My home and hometown of Milwaukee: This is a place I have always felt comfortable and safe in. I live in a relatively quiet neighborhood that has never had problems with crime until recently. The gay couple down the block has been robbed and assaulted by intruders twice in the last year and I have a hard time believing this is a coincidence. I have always felt I lived in an accepting community, but through the eyes of a GLBT individual, I am not so sure.

The U of M campus: This place feels especially accepting to me because of the diverse age, race, religious and sexually orientated population here at the University. Depending on the people encountered, the categorization of safe or unsafe for a GLBT person is up in the air.

I feel this is the way a lot of these spaces can be looked at. I would like to believe that this campus is a safe place for all its students, but then again hate crimes and general discrimination still runs rampant in modern America. I hope one day to live in a world where all people, regardless of their skin, gender, or identity in general, can feel safe.

Reflections on Spaces

Engaging Assignment #5
Ashley O’Neil
After watching the film Toilet Training, I started reflecting on how privileged I am to not have to fear for my safety or privacy when going into public spaces or bathrooms. I also started thinking about how so many spaces in this world are not safely accessible to people who do not fit into the gender binary. Bathrooms are a huge issue, obviously, but there are countless others—basically every public place you can name is or can become a dangerous place to be. These public spaces become dangerous when the person in question becomes vulnerable. For instance, in a shopping mall, there are a huge variety of people, all doing their own thing. In my opinion a large mass of people is a safer place to be than in an isolated area. Nobody is going to give two men holding hands a hard time in a mall, or even pay attention to a cross dresser. But those same people have a good chance of being harassed on a street with not a lot of people around.

My list of places I created included the mall, the streets of the U of M campus, my house, a dining hall on campus, my dorm, women’s bathrooms, and my hometown of Becker. After thinking about all of these and if they were “safe? or not, I came to the conclusion that if it’s public, it’s got the potential to be dangerous to non-gender-conformists. But some are less dangerous than others. For instance, I think of the U as a pretty welcoming and accepting campus. I would feel safe walking around here regardless of gender. The mall, as I said above, is more safe than not simply because of the sheer diversity and number of people. The dining hall might be a little more dangerous, because of the intimacy of it and the high number of people it serves. My dorm-room is safe, because it’s a private space, as well as my home. Women’s bathrooms are unsafe depending on how much you differ from the “normal? woman, and my hometown …That’s one I would probably consider “unsafe.? It’s all white, Christian conservative farmers and such. I remember when I was a sophomore in high school, some students tried to start a GLBT alliance group. Some kids actually came to school the next day with shirts that said “Anti-Gay.? It just makes me shake my head now.

One more interesting piece of information: I was on the Queer Student Cultural Center website for the U of M, and I saw this link that said “Unisex Bathroom Listing? or something along those lines. It turns out that the U has made a Google map of all the known unisex bathrooms on campus. I thought that was pretty amazing. I counted really quickly and I think it’s safe to say that the number is well over 100. I also spotted a couple of unisex bathrooms I’ve seen around here that were missed—so who knows how many unisex bathrooms the campus has. I think it’s a great resource for anyone who has difficulties using binary gendered bathrooms and it made me like this campus a little bit more knowing that there are things being done to accommodate all genders.