It’s been a big couple of weeks in bathrooms. First, Pauline Hanson declared the presence of squat toilets in the Australian Tax Office could destroy the Australian way of life. And now, a federal judge in the United States has blocked the Obama administration’s directive that public school students should be able to use whichever bathroom they prefer. This means transgender kids will be forced, by law, to use the bathroom for the gender on their birth certificate.

Why this obsession with toilets? Toilets are one of the only truly private spaces we have left in the surveillance state (and not even then, if you take your phone with you). An obsession with the way and place in which other people answer nature’s call seems a very odd one indeed. Cory Bernardi is, of course, one of those weirdly transfixed by other people’s bathroom habits; the Senator shared a transphobic cartoon on his Facebook page in May, depicting a transgender woman using the women’s toilet.

There are plenty of things for our Senate — and the US justice system — to tackle this year. But it’s time to get our minds out of the toilet.

Peter Fray

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