Canada | Education | News | Ontario | Transgender

Canadian Trans Student Denied Access to School Bathroom


James Spencer, a transgender student at Clarke High School in Durham Region, Ontario, can't use the men's room at his school despite going through the demeaning chore of collecting signatures from half the student body, Metro News Canada reports:

He’s been granted access to the women’s washroom and a private washroom that needs a key from the main office — neither of which work for him.

“I thought, ‘They’re figuring it out, it’s temporary,’ but as time went on they’re portraying the message that transgender people are wrong and they need to be segregated. And I don’t sit well with that,” said Spencer.

Spencer was born Samantha De Graauw. He began transitioning in Grade 10 while at school in Cobourg. Then the rumours and bullying started. He moved in with his sister and enrolled at the new school in Clarington as James Spencer. Sex? Male.

During his first week and a half, he said he was asked to go to the bathroom at a Harvey’s beside the school while the administration found a solution. Officials deny sending the student off-site.

Spencer awaits a solution.

Feed This post's comment feed


  1. Completely off-topic, but why did he change his last name as well?

    Posted by: Snownova | Nov 14, 2012 9:00:52 AM

  2. Well, the article says that he moved in with his sister, so the fact that he changed his last name is probably related to parental rejection.

    Posted by: max | Nov 14, 2012 9:13:08 AM

  3. Is there any guy who has not stood at a urinal with someone else in the room? Big whoop, James sits when he pisses, many dudes with dicks do also. If this were a locker room I'd be more conflicted but a bathroom? I could care less who shares the room with me, I'm there to piss not cruise, most of the time. Hang in there James.

    Posted by: terry | Nov 14, 2012 9:15:16 AM

  4. Okay, let's see. The completely absurd and unsubstantiated and offensive justification for not allowing MtF trans folks use women's restrooms is that male rapists will dress up as women and assault women in the restrooms, so allowing people who look like men but dress as women in is a safety risk.

    Stupid, offensive, largely implausible, but at least internally consistent.

    But what are we supposed to think is the issue here? That a bunch of high school girls are going to dress as boys and invade the restroom? That James is going to go psycho and assault the poor helpless boys in the restroom? That James is at risk and that singling him out and making a huge issue of this somehow limits that risk?

    If transwomen supposedly aren't allowed in women's restrooms because masculine-looking women make it easer for male rapists to get in for nefarious purposes, what's the logic of forcing someone who identifies as and clearly appears to be male to use the ladies' room - isn't that even more likely to create the same (implausible) situation?

    Gay or straight, cis or trans, if someone is actually doing something inappropriate in a high school bathroom, take action. If not, leave them alone, do you own business, and move on with your freaking life and let them do the same.

    Posted by: Lymis | Nov 14, 2012 10:15:36 AM

  5. Another story that makes it clear that there is a big gulf between youth and adults on issues of sexuality and gender identification. Also how can anyone be surprised bullying exists when adults bully like this, so blatantly?

    This is very offensive. Hopefully James is rightfully allowed to use the male bathroom and isn't forced to take legal action.

    Posted by: Francis | Nov 14, 2012 11:09:23 AM

  6. Canada what is happening? Not letting a kid use a bath room, do you know how crazy that sounds? Let the kid pee or what ever it is only natural.

    Posted by: Bob | Nov 14, 2012 11:23:41 AM

  7. MOVE

    Posted by: Stephen | Nov 14, 2012 11:24:23 AM

  8. Anything that upsets trans activists, I will support. Did you all hear that trans blogs were encouraging their readers to vote against marriage equality last week? They wanted to "punish" LGBs for having the temerity to prioritize their civil rights and not focus on "trans" issues like potty venues.

    These people, who are by and large not gay, care nothing about us. They see us as a resource to be exploited. Linking gay civil rights with trans activists was the absolute worst mistake our movement ever made.

    Posted by: Francis | Nov 14, 2012 11:38:51 AM

  9. I totally get the issue and have empathy but i have to ask, really? 10th grade?

    "He began transitioning in Grade 10 while at school in Cobourg."

    what do they mean by transitioning? That implies, at a minimum, hormone therapy and intensive counseling. It's not just wearing different clothes and using different pronouns to identify yourself.

    In 10th grade your hormones are not even close to being "settled" or "stabilized", much less your mental outlook.

    I don't mean to imply that it's not possible to 100% know you are the wrong gender at that age, but how much psychoanalysis can you have undergone at that age that convinces a medical doctor that your feeling is real and not some transitory phase?

    Let's be honest, a lot of people have gender identity issues when they are young. Some from internal feels and others as a rebellion against social norms. That doesn't mean they are trans candidates.

    What are the effects of the medications to prevent breast growth and those to increase testosterone? in the soup that is a teens changing hormones, that cannot be a good recipe.

    It is a multi-year process for adults, who have had time to learn and understand more about gender than any child in the 10 grade ever will.

    I hope the guy and his school get this worked out but at the same time I really have to question the use of the word "transitioning", I hope it doesn't involve the hormone therapy and other medications.

    Posted by: mikenola | Nov 14, 2012 11:42:28 AM

  10. @Bob You blame an entire country for what happens in one school? Really? does that make any sense? Do you think that ALL of Canada has even HEARD of this story? Please worry about your own backyard - you still have some weeds to pull.

    Posted by: pienado | Nov 14, 2012 12:02:47 PM

  11. I can confidently say MANY young people in HS would not be amused with the fact James is transgendered and wants to use the boys room. This is true in Canada and the U.S. I think some people are in denial.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Nov 14, 2012 12:45:47 PM

  12. this won't go well for the school admin, especially in Ontario, a province that utterly stands up to support and champion our transitioning brothers and sisters.

    durham region has one of the strongest and most active PFLAG groups as well. they're going to be getting involved.

    kudos to incredible bravery and resilience of this young man. 10th grade, folks. 10 grade and open about his transition.

    perhaps his story will inspire some of you grown adults to get off your butts, stand up to be counted, and become a more visible advocate.

    after all, this kid could do it. why can't you?

    and you show me a gay or lesbian person who does not support our transgendered brothers and sisters and i'll show you a miserable wimp who deserves every ounce of the discrimination they'll face in life.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Nov 14, 2012 12:51:12 PM

  13. Wow. If trans rights have this far to go in Canada, what chance is there for equality in the US? I thought Canada was way more progressive.

    Posted by: Joe | Nov 14, 2012 1:07:09 PM

  14. one school's inaction is not representative of all of canada.

    gender-reassignment surgeries, in many cases, are covered by our healthcare system.

    there are workplace and housing protections for transgenderes or transitioned people.

    and our military allows transgendered or transition people to serve openly. not just gays and lesbians.

    this is one school that is gonna get a taste of "Canada" due to their inaction.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Nov 14, 2012 1:09:53 PM

  15. get gender nutural bathrooms!

    Posted by: Megan | Nov 14, 2012 1:15:12 PM

  16. @Megan: Agreed. No urinals, just stalls - I was told back in the 1970s that Germany had these.

    Posted by: Diogenes Arktos | Nov 14, 2012 1:34:17 PM

  17. it's odd - quebec has gender neutral bathrooms. in many bars and clubs.

    meaning you'll be at a urinal and a woman will walk into one of the stalls. and amazingly, people don't give a damn.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Nov 14, 2012 1:39:14 PM

  18. Francis, the vast majority of trans people will identify as homosexual at some point in their life, either pre- or post- transition. Very few are exclusively heterosexual both before and after.

    Do you have a link regarding all those trans-activism sites you're claiming were against marriage equality, or is that just an unsubstantiated to ur you're trying to perpetuate? I am talking about any kind of consistency, too, because you can find a lone crazy person saying just about anything on the Internet. It really just seems, though, as if you have an inborn prejudice against trans people and are trying to make that a greater theme in the queer movement.

    Posted by: TheDrDonna | Nov 14, 2012 1:55:09 PM

  19. TheDrDonna, don't expect honesty or logic from gay people who are anti-Trans.

    they're usually pathetically closeted adults who are furious that trans people, especially young ones like the boy in this story, have the courage to live Out while they themselves do not.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Nov 14, 2012 1:59:51 PM

  20. @TheDrDonna:

    Wrong. First, you falsely equate transgender with transsexual. The vast majority of transgender people are not transsexual and are not gay. Of course, many transsexuals are unhappy with the umbrella term "transgender" and think that there should be separate terms to describe the different groups. Which only underscores how absurd it is to have "transgender" attached to LGB.

    Second, to the extent we are speaking only of transsexuals, either we honor their gender identity or we don't. A trans woman who has sex with men prior to transitioning is not "homosexual" in any sense of the word. She is heterosexual. She can be construed as homosexual only to the extent that she is deemed to be male, which would be contrary to her gender identity. I choose not to dishonor transsexuals in that way. Why do you?

    To the extent that a transsexual woman might not have realized for a time that she is trans and erroneously identified as gay, that is called a mistake, not a sexual orientation. It would be no different than if any hetero person mistakenly concluded, for whatever reason, that he was gay.

    Trans activists have threatened and physically attacked gay writers and film makers. They have harassed and intimidated lesbians in Michigan and at NYC's lesbian march. One high-placed trans activist in Kentucky had to resign from a gay organization after publishing a violent threat directed at a named lesbian. And now they are actively mocking and opposing gay equality. For the good of LGBs and Ts, LGBT has to end.

    Posted by: Dev | Nov 14, 2012 2:55:37 PM

  21. Dev:
    Transgender refers to anyone who operates outside traditional gender norms. That would include drag, butch lesbians, ace folks, and plenty of other folks who are most definitely part of the LGB side of things.
    From here, let's look at people who actually transition (whom I will call trans folk). Almost all of the time, they have lived some portion of their life in the closet. This means that they identify as cisgender. In many cases, they may come out as LGB before they come out as trans, and in any case they have those attractions regardless of how they are dealing with their gender identity. Of course, it's worth mentioning that most trans folk identify as LGB post transitioning (see wiki page "transgender sexuality").

    To the extent that you're talking about "trans activist" as some cohesive group of unbalanced people, either show unbiased evidence of a trend or drop it. The mere presence of a couple of unbalanced individuals who hurt others doesn't mean every one in a group that they identify with shares those traits, any more than the existence of women who are pedophiles with female children means all lesbians are pedophiles. You're repeating scare tactics as fact, with no corroboration, and it's not working. Again, with the anti-gay-marriage thing, show me the evidence.

    Posted by: TheDrDonna | Nov 14, 2012 3:39:56 PM

  22. okay, just stop. the trans disrespect is absolutely disgusting here, and the comments keep getting worse. should any of us really need to be told to educate ourselves in 2012?! just sit down and google, my god! stop trying to pretend that the gay community and the trans community are separate entities. yes, there are distinct issues at play here, sex, gender, and sexuality, but they are interconnected and impossible to completely separate from one another. more importantly - and this is the important part, so play attention - the problem here is not with the gay and/or trans person, but with the outside parties judging what they do not understand. do not misunderstand me here: this is not about your gender identity, your sexuality, how you dress, who you sleep with. this is about other people and their bigotry and irrational fear.

    think back just a few years to that big story out of nyc, when a woman was kicked out of a restaurant for using the women's bathroom. that's right, a female-identified cis-woman. the bouncer actually followed her into the bathroom and banged on her stall, then made her leave - and made her friends pay for their food before they left, too! i don't know what ever happened with their lawsuit, but the issue was entirely due to the bouncer's perception and ignorance, not the woman just trying to pee. the point is, this is not "their" problem vs "our" problem, and when somebody is bashed for being a "queer," the attacker is not differentiating between masculine gay man, pansexual effeminate man, masculine lesbian, feminine transwoman, etc, or even a straight-identified cis-man or woman they perceive to be somehow breaking the rules of gender presentation. so put away your idiocy and consider that we are fighting the same fight.

    if this kid is transitioning, it is not our place to judge that, either. we have no idea how long he has been medically transitioning, or even whether he has begun - but the research shows that puberty can exacerbate already terribly traumatic issues with trans kids. his transition is between him and his doctor, and his family under the best of circumstances, just like any other medical decision.

    i know this is "just" a blog, but seriously, people. turn down the hypocrisy and turn up the empathy once in a while. and maybe, just maybe, we should educate ourselves before we start to judge.

    Posted by: jenn | Nov 14, 2012 4:32:29 PM

  23. Thank you JENNY for being a voice of sanity and for calling on us to exercise empathy. Looks like many of us could use some practice.

    Posted by: HERMES | Nov 14, 2012 4:51:48 PM

  24. Jenn, you have to understand one thing about the nameless faceless "anti-trans" gay commenters: they have no lives and are miserable and furious about anyone and everyone who is Out, in the real world.

    gay men angry that trans people are Out, when they themselves are not.

    i know it's depressing to hear and read every day. annoying as hell. but take solace knowing their hatred of the trans communities translates into their own hatred of their own cowardice.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Nov 14, 2012 4:52:12 PM

  25. Jen, I totally agree. When some bible-thumping bigot is looking to "stomp a mudhole" in some random queer, he's not going to ask whether they are trans or gay or what.

    Kiwi, although I can certainly understand why you might be annoyed with anti-trans bigots, I tend to find that it's easier to sway people to the cause if you keep the ad hominems to a minimum. I usually prefer a well structured argument, because anti-trans people tend to show off their ignorance and bigotry pretty effectively on their own.

    Posted by: TheDrDonna | Nov 14, 2012 5:05:16 PM

  26. 1 2 »

Post a comment


« «Channing Tatum Named 'Sexiest Man Alive' by 'People'« «