The case for gender-neutral bathrooms, as told by a straight man



Darrall Flowers

As the LGBT rights movement across America progresses, the argument that this country needs separate bathrooms for both men and women becomes increasingly irrelevant. Our transgender brothers and sisters are now facing huge backlash from discriminatory legislatures and have been in a constant battle to maintain their identity. This struggle extends to a decision that most people take for granted every day: “Which bathroom do I use?”

Should society allow people to relieve themselves wherever they choose because, at the end of the day, it’s just a bathroom? Or is the perceived risk that conservatives are preaching of allowing a transgender man to use a restroom with a woman enough to require separate bathrooms? Both sides of the argument have valid points to be raised, however the benefits of creating gender-neutral bathrooms far outweigh the cons.

After a couple of hours of research, you will find that gender defined bathrooms have only existed since the Victorian era, driven by paternalistic desires to protect women from the dangers of male interaction. Legislation upholding these antiquated traditions is enforced by the Uniformed Plumbing Code, dating back to 1887, according to Terry S. Kogan, a University of Utah law professor and a contributor to the book “Toilet: Public Restrooms and the Politics of Sharing.” Kogan views sex-segregated bathrooms as unnecessary. However, as with any major social change, gender-neutral bathrooms come with their own worries.

Women’s worries

The push for gender-neutral bathrooms can be seen as uncomfortable for many women. The fear of unwanted sexual attention, the anxiety of being alone in a restroom with a man, the lack of privacy and even worse, the threat of sexual assault, looms in their minds. Nonetheless, these thoughts are just a case of imaginations run rampant. It is a fact that sexual harassment and assault are not commonly perpetrated by strangers. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that 60 percent of assaults are by someone that the survivor knows. 

Parental Worries

The worry of having a young girl use the restroom with a grown man weighs on many parent’s minds. The mere thought of this occurring creates fear in the minds of mothers and fathers alike, however, it too is an over exaggeration of the reality. Similar to worries of sexual assault, most acts of pedophilia are committed by someone that the child knew and trusted rather than, for example, a stranger they were in a restroom with, according to Psychology Today. To buy into the notion that this is a rational fear is nothing more than a denial of the reality of how we as a society use the bathroom. We stand to do more good for our society if we focus on the purpose of restroom usage rather than fetishizing our bathroom privileges.

Parents would also see a huge benefit when their young child of the opposite gender needs to use the restroom. When a mother is out shopping with her young son and he needs to use the bathroom, she wouldn’t have to bring him into the women’s restroom with her so he could use the restroom. A gender neutral bathroom would allow parents the ability to help their child without other individuals in the restroom judging the parent or the child. This extends to when a person is aiding an individual of the opposite sex who has a disability and needs assistance using the restroom. Sure, most would attribute these restrooms to benefiting those in the LGBT community, but there are plenty of groups who would reap the benefits.

Societal Benefits

The gains we stand to make as a culture far outweigh the “risks” of gender-neutral bathroom usage. The fact that there will be more bathrooms available in every location instead of having women stand in oversized lines just to pee and the fact that men would no longer have to worry about the potential invasion of one’s splatter zone are major pluses in bathroom usage relations, assuming all bathrooms would possess only stalls and toilets rather than urinals.

In the end, our LGBT brothers and sisters deserve to define themselves and use whatever bathroom they please. Gender-neutral bathrooms would not only help this cause but also move America into an enlightened area on LGBT relations. The more we work together to solve these issues, the better our country becomes for all Americans, no matter their sexual orientation or bathroom preference.