I’m seeing a lot of attempts to simplify what people feel is appropriate bathroom use, right down to vagina = women’s room / penis = men’s room. But even if sex = gender (which it doesn’t), who’s going to check people before they go to the bathroom? Are we really coming to that? And what of the small but real percentage of people that are neither/both sex physically?
We got it all wrong. The real issue is why are we obsessed with turning going to the bathroom into a sexual issue. Other countries have unisex bathrooms and the sky didn’t fall. But we’re also offended by breastfeeding for similar silly reasons. Many stores have family rest-rooms for parents with children (or caregivers and clients) of another sex, changing babies, etc.. and the world didn’t end.
Interestingly, the history of separate restrooms has always been one of fear. It’s origins in the Victorian Era was for the sanitary confinement of women. Interestingly, it was continued in our own country as a mechanism of Jim Crow laws. Today, we play the “for the children card”. Worried about pedophiles? Anyone can be abused by someone of the same or different sex, so just use common sense people. And if you’re a woman worried about going to the bathroom because a man might be there, maybe that’s not rational and you need to take responsibility to deal with it.
By all this nonsense WE are the ones making bathrooms a fearful place by our backwards mores. But there’s a darker need to rationalize this, consciously or not. We are making a necessary facility a battleground just because we may think we’re losing a war against having to tolerate people of genders and lifestyles we don’t understand or approve of. We want to go back to that “simpler time” where everything made sense to us, with any and all prejudices unchallenged.
On the other hand, this could be taken as an opportunity to scrutinize the way we see with each other as human beings. Are we really so afraid of the opposite sex, or just outcast genders we would like to think aren’t a real thing? What does this say about men and women in general, where any man is seen as a potential rapist and pedophile? Should we go back to drinking from separate water fountains, too, just to be sure we don’t get cooties?
No, this isn’t really about hypothetical embarrassments and crimes in a private-yet-public place. It’s about the unwillingness to change and accept the reality that some Victorian and Jim Crow mores are simply outdated, and on the wrong side of history to boot. You don’t have to be comfortable with changes in culture, but voters and lawmakers clinging to the past doesn’t cut it. Imposing past beliefs on future generations is a crime and embarrassment that is not so hypothetical.