I imagine most cisgender women have occasionally felt fearful when alone in a public restroom. What if a creepy stalker slips in the room? What if my life turns Criminal Minds-ey while I’m sitting here vulnerable with my pants down?
Imagine feeling unsafe every time you used one, for myriad valid reasons.
As you’ve probably heard, Kansas lawmakers recently introduced a pair of bills that would keep transgender students from using restrooms that match their gender in public schools and universities statewide. Worst yet, anyone who saw someone transgender in the restroom could sue the school for $2,500. North Carolina also began pushing these “bathroom bills.”
Last week, I had the pleasure of chatting with Casey, a non-binary trans parent and blogger who lives in Boston with their 6-year-old, Roozle. I’ve adored Casey’s work and advocacy for some time, and fell harder for them when I spotted their new Instagram account: @wejustneedtopee.
I loved everything Casey had to say, particularly this, about their @wejustneedtopee campaign:
“…I wanted to encourage cis allies to go up to restaurants and ask them if they have a neutral bathroom for someone to use, for anyone to use. I want cis people to start using those bathrooms and thank business owners for having them, so that when I show up there, and I ask them if there’s a bathroom safe for me, they’ve already had that conversation. They don’t have to just have it with me, when I’m probably freaking out a little bit, and scared. That felt like the way to turn this around and get a little bit more support from cis allies and it was a way to focus that energy that I was feeling so horrible about.”
To listen to our full conversation, hop over to iTunes or Stitcher Radio, or click play below. The segment plays in the first 15 minutes.
What did you think of our chat? If you’re cisgendered, will you support trans people by asking about neutral bathrooms? As always, I welcome your respectful thoughts!
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I’m a Libertarian who wants everyone to be able to do their business in a way that’s comfortable to them. I’ve always felt three unisex restrooms in a row is the way to go. Love this idea!
August McLaughlin says
Cheers, Eli. Thanks for the support!
Piper Bayard says
Who ever thought that where people pee would be such an issue?
I, like probably every woman, have often felt creeped out when alone in a bathroom. I worried about my daughter in high school, as girls alone in school bathrooms have been known to be raped by boys who come in on them. Frankly, I’m not keen on gender neutral bathrooms, especially in schools, as girls will inevitably be stuck alone with boys in the bathroom.
Jane Goodall did a study on why African girls in small towns commonly quit school when they reached puberty. She found it was because they didn’t have a girls’ bathroom. She began a project to build girls’ bathrooms at schools in Africa, and what do you know? The girls stayed in school.
I am sympathetic to trans-gender people; however, I am also sympathetic to safety issues of the entire population. In light of this, I am against universal installment of gender neutral bathrooms.
HOWEVER, I would suggest handling the issue by providing boys/mens rooms and girls/womens rooms the way they are, and an additional unisex/family bathroom that is completely private with a lock on the door. Many rest stops and recreation centers already employ this method of providing safe, private bathroom space. It covers men and women of whatever sexual persuasion, dads with daughters, moms with sons, etc. That way, the entire population is served without putting the entire population at risk to serve a small minority.
Kassandra Lamb says
I think a third bathroom is the answer, although the business community may fight this because it cost money to put in a family/gender neutral bathroom. But I think it’s a must do thing!! I always worried when my son was eight and nine when he would go in the men’s room without me. But he’d reached the age where he felt uncomfortable in the women’s room.
I’m not okay with all restrooms being gender neutral (unless they’re one seaters) because now, when a man comes into the women’s restroom, you know he’s either confused or a rapist. If he doesn’t run right back out again (the confused ones) then you know to scream your head off.
With all gender neutral bathrooms, you wouldn’t know the guy was creep until he grabbed you and started dragging you into a stall.
That’s not only dangerous but it would make a lot of women who have previously been raped extremely nervous every time they went to the restroom in public.
Absolutely, transgender people need a place to feel comfortable while peeing, but so do cisgender folks.
Personally if I were in a business establishment or public building that had ONLY gender neutral bathrooms, I’d hold it until I got home and never go to that building again.
August McLaughlin says
Yes, a third bathroom is definitely a fine solution. That and/or private gender-neutral rooms is what most seem to be advocating for. What matters most is creating safe, respectful options for all—and truly listening to those who are lacking them.
I’m planning to support businesses with such options as much as possible – I’d much rather they have my funds, particularly considering how many people they benefit (not only trans people, but parents, people with disabilities, etc.).
Joy Saint James says
I’ve tried to approach this whole bathroom thingie with satire and humor:
As the link shows, I find the occasional man in my yoga class much more creepy!!! Absolutely!
Hennepin County library (where I work) is committed to making all our restrooms (that are single stalls) gender neutral. This is good for all the reasons Casey stated with #wejustneedtopee. I know it’s hard for some folks to picture this scenario with multiple stall bathrooms, so yes the third bathroom would be the answer. But really the answer is a change in culture, a wanting to learn, a wanting to support, a wanting to be an ally.
Thanks again August.
August McLaughlin says
“…the answer is a change in culture, a wanting to learn, a wanting to support, a wanting to be an ally.” <— YES. Gorgeously said, Amy. Such a mindset makes everything else more clear and feasible, IMO. Thanks so much for weighing in.
Scott L Vannatter says
I grew up in a very church-oriented, Christian environment. I even started out college on the minister track. All of that has changed for me. I am much more open to different things, different ideas, different people.
There are, however, some of the left-over feelings to deal with. Just those niggling little thoughts and such that keep me from being quite as free as I would wish.
The bathroom idea just came up in a meeting I was in Saturday. I guess that several places (Indianapolis?) are trying to get a “pay to pee” sort of thing going. I don’t know all the details, but my own opinion is that a person decides what their gender is. They know inside their heads. Especial if doing the drug part and/or the surgery part, these people are who they choose to be and should be accepted that way.
My thought, anyway,
August McLaughlin says
Thanks for your honesty and for sharing, Scott. I know many people believe that gender is a choice, but a growing body of research shows that it’s biological. You can learn more here, if you’re interested. Regardless, I think it’s best to truly listen to people who aren’t cisgendered in these matters. I totally agree that people of all genders should be accepted as they are.