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Old 05-12-2019, 04:58 PM
thorny locust's Avatar
thorny locust is online now
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Upstate New York
Posts: 1,460
Thinking about this in general --

What seems to me to have happened is that this society set up public bathroom and locker room conventions under the assumptions that 1) people could be neatly sorted into exactly two categories, A and B, and everyone would fit easily and obviously into one category or the other and 2) people in A were sexually attracted only to people in group B, and people in group B were sexually attracted only to people in group A.

If we go with those two assumptions, then it makes perfect sense to have restrooms and locker rooms used jointly by people in group A, and another separate set used jointly by people in group B. Nobody will be undressing around anyone who might be sexually attracted to them, and, as a bonus, you get to speed things up a bit for one group and save space and money for the designers by putting fewer stalls and mostly urinals in half the rooms, while it's only necessary to put tampon/pad distributors in the other half. (Baby changing tables used to be also only in half the rooms. We won't get into couches to lie down on if your cramps got too bad; modern public restroom designers seem unwilling to allow enough room to close the stall door without banging your knees, they're certainly not going to allow enough room to lie down.)

Problem is: neither of those two assumptions is true.

We've mostly admitted that, yes, gay people exist. (And there was indeed some commotion about the idea of straight people being expected to share restrooms, locker rooms, and dormitories with gay people who might -- gasp -- be turned on by them! I haven't heard much of that lately, though.)

Now we're having to admit that trans and intersex and genderfluid people exist. Maybe we ought to stop trying to fit people into only two boxes?

I can think of several possible ways to try to deal with the current mess:

1) Try to jam everybody back into the boxes. I don't think we ought to pick this one. It does damage, and it doesn't work. In fact, for one of the major purposes of the original division, it can't work. There's no way to draw up two boxes that doesn't include in each box some people who might be turned on by other people in the same box. (And, unless we're going to reintroduce strict gender-based dress codes with matching genital inspection, and probably not even if we do, there's also no way to draw up two boxes that doesn't result in some people in each box looking like they belong in the other one.)

2) Re-design all the restrooms and locker rooms so nobody has to be unclothed around anybody else. This one would work; and in fact is the solution already in place in a lot of places, including in particular places that were never designed any other way (such as on airplanes) and small venues that basically had one restroom labeled M and one labeled F and all they have to do is change the signs on the doors and put a wastebasket, and maybe a tampon dispenser, in what used to be the men's room. However, for places that have a whole lot of people coming through, it would get expensive; and, for many already existing buildings, it would likely reduce the number of spaces to the point at which lines would get way too long; at least, if better doors on the stalls to make it harder to see into them doesn't count and entirely separate rooms are needed.

3) Change all the signs to just say "restroom" or "locker room" and everybody just get over it. That might well be a long-term solution -- pretty much all of the USA has adapted just fine to expecting to see people of other genders barely technically short of naked on the beach, after all -- but I don't think it's going to happen any time real soon. (And, of course, nobody has to go to the beach. But everybody has to piss.)

4) For places that already have single-use rooms, just change the signs. For places with multi-use rooms: Put better doors on the stalls; split one of the current gender-labelled multi-use rooms in half, and label one half male and the other female; and label the remaining large one as for anybody. This requires some physical renovation, but not as much as converting the multi-use rooms into standard individual-use rooms; and it doesn't require as much additional space. Because the gender-labeled rooms will be significantly smaller than the 'anybody' room, significant numbers of people who fit in the boxes but just don't care will use the anybody room to avoid long lines in the others, and those who don't fit in the boxes won't be made to stand out (and maybe made into prey by those who want to know where to find them.) This won't solve the 'somebody might be leering at me' problem, of course, because there will still be gay and lesbian people in the gender-labeled rooms as well as in the anybody rooms. But maybe it would calm people down.

I am as I said cis, so there may be significant problems with 4) that I'm not seeing (aside from the fact that, while it would be cheaper than renovating all the multi-use rooms into single-use ones, it would cost something. Whatever way we do it costs something, though; if not necessarily in direct cash expenditures.) So if I'm out of line, somebody please tell me.

Last edited by thorny locust; 05-12-2019 at 05:02 PM.