In North Carolina, bathrooms have gotten a bit…complicated, we might say. A law has recently been passed requiring all restrooms have a gender-specific label (NPR) and also “requires people to use the restroom matching the gender designation on their birth certificate” (Huffington Post). I read a few articles and I am going to summarize the for and against and see if I can get somewhere.
Those arguing for gender-specific bathrooms are convinced of their position mainly by fear – which is regrettable and true. One of the common arguments is that sexual-assault numbers will rise because men and women will be in the same bathrooms at the same time. One such article says,
“As a simple example, ask yourself, if a female student passes out at 3 a.m. in a bathroom stall, would you prefer another female find her, or have it be a coin flip whether the next person coming through that door is a male or female? Personally, I would prefer another female student find her, as opposed to a potentially intoxicated male.” (SoCawlege) (Disclaimer: This is a sketchy website but the example they provide represents much of the fear people feel.)
While I could analyze the shaky assumptions happening here, I can also recognize the possibility of the above situation and the fear that it inspires. Sexual harassment and assault are not things we like – for good reason.
Arguments for gender-neutral washrooms center mostly around the belief that those who don’t feel comfortable using the restroom that matches their birth certificate should still be able to use a restroom. Should an individual feel androgynous or female with male genitalia or vice versa, must they rebuke their gender identity in order to use the washroom?
While both sides can defend their argument amazingly well, we begin to move away from the logistics after a bit. What really begins to matter is one question: is our fear more significant than others’ self-identification?
I would venture to say no, but that is what we are facing. So, sorry – no solutions, only a question. Good luck.