A couple of girls on my friends list recently declared that segregating bathrooms into “male” and “female” is sexist and stupid and should be abolished. While I agree that in small businesses there is no need to have a single bathroom each with the words “male”
and “female” I think that when stalls are involved, that the bathrooms should still be segregated.
Their arguments for only unisex bathrooms were as follows:
1 People who do not conform to typical expressions of gender such as transgendered people often face discrimination for going in the “wrong” bathroom.
2 Women’s bathrooms often have long lines in busy areas as compared to the men’s.
3 Two separate bathrooms mean more work for janitors and are harder to keep clean and take care of.
My response to those arguments:
I personally prefer three bathrooms in large areas such as big movie theaters and ballparks. A “male”, “female” and “family” bathroom. I wouldn’t have a problem with using a unisex bathroom, I have many times before, but I prefer a women’s over a unisex. I can understand the need for some to have a unisex bathroom, parents with small children of the opposite sex, caretakers of handicapped or mentally challenged people of the opposite sex and even some transgendered people who might prefer to use a “unisex bathroom.”
However, a good deal of transgendered people face discrimination for merely walking down the street and while bathroom use is a hard point for them, I think that laws should instead be passed protecting their right to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity.
I did an informal poll of all the transgendered people I know and all of them said that they thought the unisex bathroom idea was silly and even if they had a unisex bathroom available to them, they would prefer to use the one that corresponds to their gender identity. I realize that my friends are a small sample of all transgendered people so I am interested in hearing from more of you.
I also have a few friends that have public bathroom anxiety. They feel embarrassed using the public bathrooms because of the “sounds” and try to avoid it at all costs. They said that if all public bathrooms were unisex, they would have such anxiety that they didn’t think they could ever use one again. I realize my few friends are a small minority, but I still think that is important.
As for women and men having unequal amounts of toilet space, I do think that is a problem, but that can be fixed by offering more stalls in the women’s restrooms as compared to the men’s. If the amount of stalls is small or there are no men in the other restroom, then I have seen girls take over the men’s for a short period of time.
I think the amount of stalls required per person who works in the building is required by law, so I don’t think that making all bathrooms unisex is going to make janitors’ work any easier, as one unisex bathroom would probably be the same size as two single sex bathrooms. It might even have to be more as urinals would no longer be used.
Finally, I don’t want to have all bathrooms be unisex for several reasons.
1 I can easily see perverted men hanging out in the bathroom and leering at females who come in or go out. There are already men who try to film women going to the bathroom and it would be much easier for them to go about such activities.
2 Most women and even a few men use the bathroom as a place to do personal hygiene checkup and grooming. That’s why bathrooms have mirrors and some people go out of their way to use restrooms that have mirrors and in women’s restrooms, mirrors are often in different places than sinks. Checking for food stuck in your teeth, adjusting your clothes, reapplying your makeup… I have no problem with doing that in mixed company, but I know several women who do. Other women I spoke to said that they would be too embarrassed to buy tampons in a unisex bathroom or said that they would not be able to use the bathroom on a first date if there was a chance their date would be in the bathroom too.
Are single-sex bathrooms on the way out? Are they really sexiest and out-dated? I am interesting in hearing your thoughts even if you just want to say that you would or would not have a problem using a unisex bathroom.