Solving the issue of bathrooms in transition
By Adam Tatelman, Arts Editor
Apparently, we have attacked the social issues of our time with such enthusiasm that the only thing unresolved is the proper gendered washroom protocol. Riveting. Normally I’m the last person to care about where anyone pisses. It’s a non-issue. You gotta go when you gotta go, and anybody who wants to give you shit for whizzing on a tree because the lineup at the Jiffy John was too long should feel free to offer their tonsils in place of a urinal.
Target has become the focus of some truly uninspiring controversy for declaring that transgendered people on the premises are permitted to use their preferred washrooms, as opposed to those representing their biological sex. The resulting outcry from religious fundamentalists was the predictable “think of the children” fare, suggesting that perverts will pretend to be transgendered in order to fondle children in the stalls.
Obviously, this argument is an appeal to fear. Any police officer will tell you that roving pedophiles typically choose areas without public traffic to better isolate their targets. But the kicker is, members of the transgendered community have tried to use the exact same argument—that bathrooms are apparently also wretched havens for public violence against the transgendered—to argue for segregated transgendered-only bathrooms.
Though the pedo argument is clearly a load, it is strange that people fail to see the ethically dubious nature of segregation. There was a time when “coloured” bathrooms existed. According to the state, this was for everyone’s protection—more obvious fearmongering. But nobody had a “coloured” bathroom in his or her home. Just plain old bathrooms. Therein is the solution that will satisfy everyone. It’s not to build separate bathrooms. It’s not even to label bathrooms “gender neutral.” It’s to put up a sign that says “bathroom” and call it a day.
Each bathroom would require urinals, baby change stations, and wheelchair access stalls to accommodate the urinating public at large, but those expenses will be covered by reduced plumbing, electrical, and construction costs. Anyone of any gender, biological or otherwise, may then use the facilities without complaint. It will even balance out the underutilization of men’s washrooms and the overutilization of women’s washrooms. Though some unisex facilities exist, it is baffling that more facilities have not adopted this more cost-effective model.
But what about the evil rapey men? We can’t allow them varmints to share the washrooms with the womenfolk, surely. Well, here’s the best part: men are not rapists. Some rapists are men, and if rapists want to rape, they’ll do it regardless of what the sign on the door says. Consider again the historical example of “coloured” bathrooms, which supposedly existed to protect the poor innocent white folks from sexual violence by blacks. This fear-based thinking may not be excused by the blanket accusation of a gender as opposed to a race.
Even if the fear of pedophiles, trans-bashers, and rapey men had any logical foundation, unisex bathrooms would provide a natural solution to the problem. Being higher traffic areas compared to single-sex facilities, getting away with this kind of lewd behaviour would become even more difficult. Hell, we could even create some jobs! Bathroom security attendants should allay all fears of assault, provided all applicants submit to a background check and have no criminal or sexual offence record.
We don’t have men’s or women’s washrooms in our own homes, so why bother supporting them as a needless public expense? Better to do away with this ridiculous idea of sacred urinary segregation—and by extension, the idea that all washrooms are sex-crime central. Maybe then we can all get back to the business of using bathrooms for their intended purpose, instead of arguing over petty, meaningless labels.