Iceland’s gender determination act, which was passed in 2019, emphasised that trans people have the same rights as cis people to use showers and changing rooms that are in accordance with their gender. To this end, the City of Reykjavík has issued guidelines to operators and staff of such public venues on how to respond to questions, or complaints, from guests at these locations.
These guidelines include responding to guests who ask if a trans woman can be in the women’s showers if she has not had a vaginoplasty (the answer to which is yes; Iceland does not require trans people to undergo surgery in order for their gender to be legally recognised), to point out that trans people pose no threat to them simply by showering next to them, and that any one person’s religious beliefs do not override civic law, amongst other things. The guidelines also give staff direct citations to the law that they may cite when questioned by guests.
Dóra Björt Guðjónsdóttir, a Reykjavík City Councilperson for the Pirate Party, told radio programme Bítið that the “concerns” that cis people have about the mere presence of trans people in public spaces are based on misinformation and scare tactics that do not hold up to scientific scrutiny.
“We cannot define human rights with some dramatic intervention into people’s bodies,” she said in part.
Recent research has shown that trans women have posed no threat to cis women in gendered spaces that allowed trans people access to them, a fact that has been backed up by operators of these spaces, law enforcement, and sexual assault crisis centres. The myth of the trans predator is exactly that: a myth.
If anything, Bóra Björt says, trans people themselves often feel unwelcome in spaces that are ostensibly open to them. This was part of the reason why the city drew up these guidelines; in order to help ease the minds of people who believe they are unfamiliar with sharing spaces with trans people.
Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.
You can also check out our shop, loaded with books, apparel and other cool merch, that you can buy and have delivered right to your door.
Also you can get regular news from Iceland—including the latest notifications on eruptions, as soon as they happen—by signing up to our newsletter.
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!