Violent cistems: Trans experiences of bathroom space

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Transgender people in South Africa face problems with safe access to spaces that have been shaped and gendered by colonisation and apartheid. Cape Town, despite being labelled ‘the gay capital’ of Africa, contains bathroom spaces that carry this often unscrutinised violent legacy. This qualitative study deals with the experiences of discrimination and violence against transgender people of colour within the bathroom space. The study participants comprised ten transgender people of colour. Their different narratives demonstrate racist, sexist and transphobic modes of violence experienced in relation to the toilet space. In doing so, they show how the problems transgender people face within bathroom spaces are indeed significantly about gender, but cannot be robustly considered through a lens that views the problem as one that it is determined by gender alone. Thus, this study suggests that activism directed towards the safety of transgender people of colour necessitates a queer decolonisation of the toilet space, which has intersectionality at its core.

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