Gender neutral restrooms are step in right direction


Photo credit: Madison Holmes

Conversation across the country has been focused on gender neutral restrooms. New legislation such as the Transgender Public Accommodation bill in Massachusetts or the House Bill 2 in North Carolina has people thinking about whether gender neutral public facilities are a good idea. While this shift in how public accommodations work may have some people suspecting the worst, it may ultimately be a step in the right direction.

Many states are looking to make their facilities gender neutral, meaning that using a restroom, bathroom, changing room or locker room is up to the person using the facility and how they identify their gender. If you’re a man but you identify as a woman, you can use the women’s restroom and vice versa.

These bills specify that they are talking about facilities where more than one person is occupying it at once and where people will be in various states of undress.

The people who disagree with these ideas think this creates too many opportunities for bad situations to occur. God forbid people try to abuse this as a chance to act illegally and be threatening toward someone of the opposite sex.

The fact that these rules specify that people will be in various states of undress makes people uneasy. Some politicians believe there is now little room to stop a pedophile or sexual predator from acting.

Except someone who would misbehave like this doesn’t follow the law already, so why would you expect them to now?

Predators can already act on people of the same sex. If predators were going to use facilities like this they would already.

The numbers don’t really back the argument either. Over 80 percent of sexual assaults come from people known by the victim, and roughly half of them happen within one mile of their homes.

Around 18 percent of sexual assaults happen at public facilities. There is a chance that this number could go up and every little bit hurts, but wouldn’t the problem be more of a mental health issue with the predator rather than anything to do with the restroom?

A point that I may sympathize with is that men and women are biologically different from each other, so logically they should have separate facilities to accommodate both respectively.

But restrooms are already the same for both men and women. Chico State already has several gender neutral restrooms below the BMU. While these are single restrooms, there should be no difference if more people could use it at once.

These bills apply strictly to public places, so this should only affect public facilities. This means that private businesses should still be allowed to choose how they set up their restrooms without anyone forcing them to be gender neutral, and people should be able to choose to either use or not use them.

It isn’t the government’s job to tell people how to run their business, and if some would feel more comfortable having designated bathrooms there should be nothing wrong with that. Businesses have a voice by doing so, and others have a voice when choosing to use or not to use gender specific restrooms.

Target recently released a statement reiterating their support for the Equality Act, which states that individuals will not be discriminated based on their gender identity when it comes to access to public places.

This news actually didn’t go over well with the public. A study from YouGov BrandIndex found that the number of people who would shop at Target dropped from 42 percent to 38 percent. This should be expected though. This is a big change in how things operate and naturally will make people worried, but that shouldn’t have any impact on whether it is the right decision.

While many people feel uncomfortable about gender neutral restrooms, they may actually be for the best. Like any other social issue, this one has turned political with rhetoric coming from both the right and the left. But this shift ought to please both sides. The left is the side pushing for this, and the right is all about the government not telling us how to operate, so why is this displeasing to people?

Everyone has these basic bodily functions. No one is surprised that we have gender neutral drinking fountains or gender neutral sidewalks. How exactly is a toilet different?

Jeff Guzman can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.