The great bathroom debate is far more complicated than the difference between number one and number two. The big deal now is the decision in North Carolina barring transgender people from using bathrooms or locker rooms that do not match the gender on their birth certificates. The proposed legislation goes on to limit municipalities from drafting their own anti-discrimination policies despite the fact that the state’s anti-discrimination policy leaves the LGBT community totally unprotected from discrimination. Lame.
Speaking of lame, why the freak-out about single sex bathrooms in the first place? I get why it’s nice sometimes, like at a fancy country club where you can lie on the couch, but using toilets as the reason you put your foot down seems a little… I dunno… childish? I checked in with my devilishly handsome trans friend, Ollie, for his two cents on the bathroom sitch. See his commentary (and mine) on why gender flexible bathrooms make sense below.
This is Ollie, btw.
1. . Shorter Lines for All
Our building code regulates bathrooms according to how many toilets exist for each gender, rather than by how many fixtures a building has in total, which is why often rather than two bathrooms for all, businesses are forced to have one and one. Let's take into account that some of us need to relieve ourselves more often than others (most women have biologically smaller bladders than men—I didn’t make the rules). Now, think of all the time you wasted waiting for the ladies room, when a separate but equal available option could've existed just steps away.
2. . The Bathroom Code is Mad Complicated
Guys, the International Building Code states that "in stadiums with few than 3,000 seats, one water closet [is needed] for every 75 males and 40 females in the first 1,500 seats and [another is needed] for every 120 males and 60 females thereafter; one toilet [is needed] per 40 occupants of any gender in restaurants, banquet halls, and food courts; [and] at movie theaters, one male toilet for every 125 potential male occupants and one female toilet per every potential 65 female occupants.” Seriously, guys? I think I've made my point.
3. . Private Bathrooms are Unisex and we all get Along Just Fine
Few, if any of us, have gender-segregated bathrooms in the privacy of our own home, and guess what? We get along just goddamn fine.
4. . Sharing is Caring… It Also Makes You Take Care of Your Stuff
If anything, knowing that people we want to hook up with will see our handy work in the commode puts us on our best girl scout behavior. “Personally I'd say unisex bathrooms are helpful because [unlike men] women don't take the toilet bowl as a gently suggested target, it's where the pee is supposed to go.” Truth. Also, as a woman who has been known to hover pee in a pinch, I wish more women appreciated the value of raising the seat to avoid a wayward spray.
5. . The Tradition of Segregated Bathrooms is Less Than 100 Years Old
Segregated bathrooms started popping up in the United States between the late 1880’s and the early 1920’s. At the time, it was largely a matter of women’s rights. Even though it was becoming common for women to work in factories, many employers still refused to provide them with restroom facilities that protected their safety and “virtue” (Victorian times), and since it was a new thing for women to be out and about in the public domain for such extended stretches at a time, the only public bathrooms were labeled men’s only spaces. Still, the times, they are a-changin'. We don’t need separate entrances to post offices and banks anymore (true story) and we don’t really need separate bathrooms, either.
This one comes from Ollie who says, “I was just thinking about how inherently misogynist and then transmisogynist the whole thing is; the 'WE MUST PROTECT OUR WOMENFOLK' tone is patronizing as f*ck. It's basically saying that men are dangerous and will rape women (so they at least acknowledge rape culture), but [in turn, they] are saying trans women aren't women. With the statistics on violence against trans women and especially trans women of color, they're actually the group in biggest need of protection, not someone's cis wife powdering her nose.” The stats back him up, btw. There is no recorded evidence of any kind showing that increased gender fluidity in bathrooms leads to an increase in sexual violence of any kind.
7. . It Makes Everything Less Weird
Gender norms run deep in this culture, (if you’ve ever cut your hair short as a woman and been yelled at when you walked into a women’s restroom-- you know). So let’s not make things any more awkward than we have to. If an individual presents theirself as male and identifies as male, and your big worry is that you "don’t want dudes in the women’s bathroom," then the last thing you want is that dude in the women’s bathroom. Trust. If single sex bathrooms are your jam, then having transmen in the ladies room will freak you out more than transwomen in the stall next to you.
8. . Mind Your Own Business
It’s tough enough being trans as it is without having to divulge that part about yourself to complete strangers. A study by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force found that 71 percent of transgender people keep their gender identity on the down low to avoid discrimination. Forcing them to use the bathroom that matches the gender on their birth certificate forces them to be public about something that certain individuals may or may not want to be public about. Honestly, the idea that we have to flash our birth certificate to prove anything is somewhat ridiculous to me. Am I right, Obama?
9. . Without A Lorax, There is No One to Speak for the Trees
The "out" trans population in the US is on the up-and-up, but that doesn’t mean they’re on their own. Change works best when majority and minority cultures work together to shift the powers that be.
10. . Transpeople Have To Pee Either Way
Don’t believe me? Check out the hashtag #WeJustNeedToPee. Gender as a binary is so last season, and with a growing trans population worldwide, it’s time to start facing the facts. I seem to recall a certain childhood classic novella entitled "Everybody Poops," and if I remember correctly, it teaches us that everybody poops. I’m assuming that goes ditto for pee. Dividing bathrooms into men, women, and trans is time consuming, counter productive, and stupid. So unless you can come up with a better solution that doesn’t infringe on the civil liberties or basic human functionality of trans folk, pass a roll under the door, bro, because everybody poops.