Public Restrooms – Can they be an Arbiter of Gender?

Public Restrooms – Can they be an Arbiter of Gender?

by Shruthi Venkatesh October 9 2018, 9:48 pm Estimated Reading Time: 2 mins, 48 secs

Public restrooms become a battleground for the Transgender. The familiar outline of Male and Female that mark gender identity erase the non binary people. These signs that indicate male and female are to be tossed away which makes life much easier for the Trans to use the restrooms. What is that which matters with gender when it comes the restrooms?  

All gender restroom (Vexels)

The natural phenomena of using restrooms remains a challenge for those Transgenders, when really, everyone wants to do is only toilet. “Transgender people have experienced discrimination in restrooms,” said Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, a gay and transgender rights group. “It certainly is the lived experience of trans people all over this country” she added.

The “trans bathroom panic” phenomenon remains a distraction – not only from their  right to piss without prejudice - but from much larger issues worthy of discussion like pathways to identification, healthcare, employment, housing security and public safety. On looking up to a recent survey, over 1500 people have been killed in transphobic hate crimes.

The common assertion is that the cisgender people experience a threat to their personal safety is highly meaningless. In a way, the concept of a gender-neutral bathroom already exists when we talk about designated “family” restrooms. However, they weren’t necessarily made with the intention of Tran’s inclusion — they were intended for parents with young child of the opposite gender and disabled people who need assistance from a caregiver of the opposite gender. Moreover, this step is in the right direction. Many LGBTQ activists, organizers, and advocates say that this legislation will make the way for even further progress.

The public restroom is not only a place to empty one’s bladder or bowel, change a tampon or clothes or wash hands; it’s an arbiter of gender where mostly the cisnormative inhabitants must take steps to secure it. It isn’t too late to redesign the bathroom for the 21st century. The versions of gender-neutral bathrooms and pictograms are set to go viral across the world. This new idea of eliminating gender references still isn’t a part of the most design strategies. The current gender neutral logo depicting half-male or half-female is mainly for those transphobics who aren’t ready to confront the non-binary.

There is a need for a higher standard and respect in order to have a safe and permanent future for those who are outside the gender binary. There is also a wide understanding of how we can break down the gender binary to include trans and non-binary identities who experience othering because it is not just bathrooms where gender is violated but also in various places of the city.

Removing gender markers even from one single-user stall helps remove the gender binary from daily life. It builds a culture where gender queer, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people don’t have to pick a side - male or female, when using the restroom. It normalizes the idea that using the bathroom shouldn’t be about gender and that people aren’t forced into socially-constructed boxes based on their genitals. But we shouldn’t of course, stop here.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The writers are solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.