Refuge, the new app that helps trans people find safe restrooms, is a handy resource. But it kind of sucks that we even need it.
While scrolling my Facebook feed today, I saw a post about a new app that aims to help trans people find safe restrooms. The app, “Refuge,” allows users to add and rate public toilets, and even lets business owners download signs to show their restrooms welcome trans people.
At first, I was excited about this. TMI time, but sometimes it’s hard enough to find a public restroom that’s clean, much less one that’s safe for trans people.
But then I read genderqueer activist Jacob Tobia’s Facebook post about the app. In just a few words, they perfectly summed up why it kind of sucks that we need an app like this in the first place.
“I feel like there is something profoundly indicative of the state of the LGBT community when the most important app for gay men helps them find the closest person to hook up with and the most important app for trans* people helps us find bathrooms so we won’t get beat up trying to pee,” they wrote.
And it’s true—while the app is a great resource, the fact that it’s needed says a lot not just about the LGBT community, but about the state of transgender rights. As more and more states are beginning to allow gay marriage, many states are enacting very transphobic laws that ban trans people from using the correct restroom.
Though gay people struggle for acceptance in similar ways, the mainstream gay movement focuses heavily on things like the right to get married. Meanwhile, trans people can’t even perform a basic human function.
Of course, not all gay people have it easy and they face their own daily struggles, but it’s important to recognize the unique struggles of transgender people, because that’s the first step to overcoming them—and apps like Refuge definitely help.