Two months after the University of Bristol posted trans-inclusive bathroom signs around its campus, an anonymously created transphobic parody has appeared, particularly targeting transgender women, reports U.K. LGBT news site Pink News.
In November, the university's UBU LGBT+ Society honored Trans Awareness Week by posting signs outside of campus restrooms that read, "If you're in a public bathroom and you think a stranger's gender does not match the sign on the door, following these steps: 1. Don't worry about it, they know better than you."
An image of the signs went viral after being picked up by several LGBT news sources in the U.K. and U.S., notes the university's newspaper, the Epigram. The paper explained that the signs were meant to make trans people more comfortable and safe, and to debunk the myth that trans women pose a violent threat to cisgender (nontrans) women in public bathrooms.
— Epigram (@EpigramPaper) November 19, 2014
The hateful parody signs appeared on campus Monday, and mimic the original signs' purple background, white lettering, and butterfly graphic — demonstrating that at least one person didn't receive the trans-affirming messages.
Posted outside women's restrooms in the Wills Memorial Building, the parody signs claim to be from the "MENZ+ Society," a group that does not exist at Bristol, according to the Epigram. The sign misgenders trans women, stating, "Women, if a man tries to enter a women's bathroom, please take these simple steps: 1. Kindly ignore the fact that men including transgender males rape women every 9 minutes 2. Kindly surrender your boundaries 3. Don't worry about it, men know better than you."
LGBT and feminist student leaders immediately decried the posters as transphobic. The university's security services have been instructed to remove any parody posters that they see, UBU Equality leader Alice Phillips told the Epigram. "There is absolutely no place for transphobia at the University of Bristol and as a Union we’re going to be doing everything we can to find out where this has come from," she stated.
"I think that whoever has parodied the poster has, in every way, misinterpreted the campaign," added UBU LGBT+ Society president Jamie Cross. "In fact I think that anyone who believes that we have not considered the need for safety for all self-identifying women in public bathrooms has also misinterpreted what we were trying to achieve with the original poster. I’m both angry and hurt that this may have been put up by a student at the university."
While the university's Feminist Society has speculated that the parody originated from "trans exclusionary radical feminists," a group known particularly for targeting and misgendering trans women, the Epigram reports that no one has yet claimed responsibility.