Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Gender Neutral Bathrooms

I'm not a "prude" when it comes to bathroom functions. When you have a baby and have an entire medical team poking and prodding your private parts looking for somebody else's head, you kinda lose your sense of privacy. By the time you potty train your child, you pretty much don't care who sees you squat, because your days already entirely revolve around the bathroom. Breastfeeding can assist women in getting over their fear of nudity too. You learn not to live in mortal fear of that blanket slipping. I figure I haven't got any "equipment" of any type people haven't seen before, so I've got nothing to be ashamed of if occasionally a glimpse of me is caught despite my best efforts.

Nevertheless, people (being, sadly, not all me) can get pretty vocal and upset about using the bathroom. I once witnessed a fight nearly break out in a women's bathroom because a lady brought her seven or eight year old son into the ladies' room at an IKEA store. One woman (who admitted she had never had children) claimed the child was peeking at her through the crack in the stall door, and took the mother to task for it, saying she ought to have left the child outside the bathroom (in Southern California, yeah right!!!) instead of bringing him in with her so that she could use the potty. She nearly came to blows with the mother after the mother had already handled the situation by lecturing the boy on privacy in the bathroom-- what else could the mother do after the fact?-- and she said she would not be satisfied until the mother corporally punished the child in public, something that can get you arrested in California. Evidently the childless woman was less concerned with whether the boy received guidance and more concerned about scratching the boy's visual image of her sitting on the pot out of his mother's eyes. Someone had seen her in the Sacred Act Of Pottying, and the little infidel must now be sacrificed to purify the Porcelain Temple.

So it comes as no surprise to me that there are people who are upset that there are no transgendered bathrooms-- they've been upset about it at least since I was in college ten years ago. And it also comes as no surprise to learn that there are people who are upset by the idea of transgendered bathrooms. What I'd like to know is, why hasn't anyone considered a solution to the problem that will not only satisfy everyone involved, but also benefit families and the disabled?

Out here in Utah it's not uncommon to see three bathrooms in public places: one for men, one for women, and one "family bathroom". The family bathroom contains the usual bathroom features (with the addition of a diaper changing table) and is commodious enough to fit a small pottying child, his parent, and his entire entourage of lesser, stroller-bound siblings and eye-rolling older siblings moaning about how this is his third trip to the bathroom in ten minutes. The family bathroom serves dual purpose as a bathroom for the disabled, being large enough to accommodate a wheelchair and/or assistant. The family bathroom would have been the ideal solution for both the childless woman who must have absolute privacy while pottying, and for the mother whose child was too old for the ladies' room but too young to stay outside by himself. And a family bathroom would easily be able to serve the transgendered, who would see the male/female sign outside it and find inside it relief from (gender) pressures. Those who would be upset by the installation of a bathroom specifically for people they find repulsive would be appeased, because the bathroom would be for families (families being much more prevalent than the transgendered).

It wouldn't be pandering to a special interest group to install a family bathroom, since they are so useful to so many different people (as well as helping meet building codes that require facilities for the disabled). So why don't we just install more family bathrooms as the opportunity arises?

Just a thought.