We Might Have Gender Neutral Bathrooms, But Should The Whole World?

[ By on December 18, 2016 ]

Here at Riverdale, in every building there is at least one gender neutral bathroom, to provide individuals who do not feel comfortable subjecting themselves to making the decision to use a bathroom that might not represent their gender identity. In my eyes, this is very progressive, but recently, this idea of having gender neutral bathrooms has been very controversial. A common idea is that these bathrooms will destroy any sense of privacy, and also, some might feel uncomfortable with someone who might be perceived as the opposite sex, entering the same bathroom as them. Some thing that are used to counter this, are:

Your bathroom in your own home is a unisex bathroom.
The bathrooms on planes are unisex bathrooms.
Some restaurant bathrooms are unisex.

These types of bathrooms are single stall, but the problem is, people are not seeing this as a viable option, as this contradicts what some consider traditional values.

Perhaps something of this nature is an issue of transphobia, or general xenophobia. Looking at an ethical framework such as utilitarianism or virtue ethics, we can see possible ways of going about solving this problem. Firstly, a utilitarian would observe that there would be a general sense of happiness to individuals who are gender queer or do not conform to the gender binary, and also to those who support these individuals. A poll was done recently, which proves a saddening fact. This fact is that more people would rather have trans people use the bathrooms that they were assigned at birth as opposed to the ones of their choice. Those who adhere to virtue ethics would most likely say that because it’s virtuous to be kind and accepting, that you should be able to use whatever bathroom you please, and you should teach people that they can use the bathrooms of their choice.



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3 Comments on “We Might Have Gender Neutral Bathrooms, But Should The Whole World?”

  1. jofficer18

    This is a very interesting topic to consider. It seems that most pushback to the installation of gender-neutral bathrooms derives from a lack of education about the transgender community or xenophobia. Some people argue that they are uncomfortable with a gender-neutral option because it opens the opportunity for sexual activity to occur in bathrooms, making them appear less safe; however, the potential for this to happen is just as high in singe-sex bathrooms, especially for men and women who are attracted to their own sex. Creating a gender-neutral bathroom does not increase this risk, rather, it simply provides a safe environment for people who do not identify with the sex that they were born with.

    I agree with your use of virtue ethics and utilitarianism, and I would add that Hume’s ethics would make it “feel” right to include the trans-community. Additionally, a Kantian framework would say that if gender neutral bathrooms were universalized, more people would be educated about the transgender community and they would be welcomed into our society more.

  2. jofficer18

    This point of safety you discuss is very interesting. We all use elevators together – also an enclosed space – and while there are breaches of safety at times on elevators, there has been no effort to have separate gendered elevators. Why not? This appears to be in issue driven far more by emotion than by attention to facts. A poll you reference says, “…more people would rather have trans people use the bathrooms that they were assigned at birth as opposed to the ones of their choice.” It is possible that many opinions are based on emotion rather than how people would interpret facts if they were actually presented with them: For example, likely most women have been in bathrooms with men who identify as women, possibly without even realizing it and without distress, but if a woman who identifies as a man were to enter a women’s bathroom, distress and mayhem would certainly ensue. Similarly, the men who would react negatively if confronted in the same way in the men’s room, would likely not notice a woman who identifies as a man, and have a potentially misogynistic or even homophobic reaction to a male by birth who identifies as a woman. This disconnect between emotion and fact is worth exploring further.

  3. jofficer18

    Emily Schorr Lesnick

    [ January 25, 2017 at 8:12 pm ]

    Hi Jordan,
    Are there biological concerns or myths about bathrooms that also might be deconstructed? If so, what are they?

Hi Stranger, reply with your thoughts:

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