As some of you may have noticed on the first floor of every traditional residence hall there is now a gender neutral bathroom. Some of you are mad about this, it makes you uncomfortable and some of you just don’t care. And why should you? There are many reasons why you should care about having gender neutral bathrooms on-campus and in society for that matter.
I understand why people are uncomfortable about using a gender neutral bathroom. People think it’s gross to go to the bathroom next to someone of a different gender. Women often think men’s bathrooms are dirtier than women’s. People often think it’s a safety issue to have to share a bathroom with someone of a different gender.
But have you thought about the benefits of gender neutral bathrooms? First of all, it’s easier for everyone. There’s no more finding the bathroom for your gender in an unknown place, or traveling halfway across the building to find a restroom with your designated sign on the door.
As far as the cleanliness goes, if bathrooms were shared I think they would be more clean, or just as dirty as they are now. They wouldn’t be dirtier. People would make more of an effort to keep the bathroom environment clean for everyone.
Safety; this is the biggest issue of them all. People are worried that if we have gender neutral bathrooms more sexual assaults will happen in them. I hate to break the news to people but most sexual assaults and rapes don’t happen in bathrooms. They happen elsewhere. And don’t you think that by having gender neutral bathrooms it would make it safer, because there are many people who wouldn’t tolerate a sexual assault or rape to happen around them? If something bad was happening, there would be a higher volume of people entering the bathroom who would be able to stop it.
I think we need to take the time to think about how a transgender person may feel when they need to use the bathroom. Having cisgender (a person who is not transgender) privilege is hard to acknowledge because that is the tricky part about privilege, you may not know you have it. Many people do not think twice about going to the bathroom, but every time a transgender person has to use the bathroom they have to worry if someone will tell them they are in the wrong bathroom, or even worse, act violently towards them. We really need to be thinking about the safety of everyone, and by having gender neutral bathrooms we are doing just that. We are making the bathroom environment safer for everyone.
I do not understand what all the fuss is about. They are just bathrooms. The sociologist in me doesn’t see the issue with sharing a bathroom with every gender, and yes there are more than just two.
We have to remember this change is for the benefit of everyone. And the people who are getting so upset don’t even understand the importance of this change nor are they trying to find out why the change is happening.
We need to have more gender neutral bathrooms around campus for our transgender community to feel included as a part of our community, because in the end, it is their community too. We need to not make them outsiders.
I would really encourage those of you who are mad or upset or uncomfortable with these gender neutral bathrooms to really put yourself in the shoes of someone who is transitioning or who has transitioned. This process is not easy and to have to be worried about which bathroom to use on a daily basis doesn’t make the process any easier.
If you would like to talk with me more about the gender neutral bathrooms please e-mail me and we can set up a time to talk about it. This issue is important to everyone and having gender neutral bathrooms is a positive thing, not negative.
Please consider your opinion of this matter and take into consideration not everyone has the privileges a cisgender person does.
Rebekah Balmer is a fifth-year student with a dual major in women and gender Studies and sociology. She can be reached at RB649636@wcupa.edu.