Gender-specific restrooms are wholly unnecessary.

This is how a public restroom should look:

Gender-specific restrooms actually cause more problems than they “solve” and while some of those issues are minor inconveniences (like me being mistaken for a woman in the men’s room) others are quite serious (like the father in Utah who was just beaten up this weekend for taking his daughter into the men’s room).  Genderless restroom facilities do away with all of that because there is no expectation of gender when you enter.  There’s no shock at seeing someone of a different gender presentation because they’re expected to be there.

As y’all might remember, I had a cute sundress moment over the weekend with an updo and some gladiator sandals.

Nothing I was wearing was all that feminine – just flowy and bold – but definitely outside of the normal presentation for a Black man in NYC, so a few people throw quick side eye.

I care not.

While we were at brunch, I went to the bathroom and when I was washing my hands – with my back to the door – this guy came in, immediately said “oops, sorry ma’am” and backed out, thinking he was in the men’s room because he saw a dress and a french twist.  Minor inconvenience, but wholly avoidable if the restroom was a genderless facility.  You’d have no reason to only see a man washing his hands at the sink, and if you saw a woman (or what you perceived to be a woman from the split second you saw them from the back), you’d just proceed to a stall and do your business.

On the other end of that scenario we have the not-so-polite guy who just goes “oops, sorry ma’am.”  We have the Genital Police who feel it’s their duty to protect the bathroom space from…other genitals being in the same place with them I guess.

Christopher Adams said his 7-year-old son, Kyler, and 5-year-old daughter, Emery, both had to use the restroom Sunday when their family went shopping at the Clinton store for blinds and storage bins, so he took them both into the men’s room, reported KSL-TV.

They were quickly confronted by a man who did not think a girl should be allowed to enter a restroom designated for men.

“This guy walks in and goes to the bathroom, the urinal,” Adams told the TV station. “Then he just, like, turns to me and starts freaking out, dropping the F-bomb — and what he was freaking out about was that my daughter was in the men’s bathroom.”

The man told Adams that it was “inappropriate,” and then shoved the father after he gave him a terse response.

Adams tried to move his children away from the man — who then escalated the conflict.

“When I turned back around, I got sucker-punched right here,” Adams said, pointing to his bruised left eye.

The man punched Adams several more times and kicked him in the knee multiple times, until the father was able to push his attacker out of the restroom and subdue him.

(cont.)

A couple of things to note.  One, Utah is one of the eleven states who just filed suit against the Obama Administration for its directive regarding trans people and public restrooms.  The directive isn’t binding by law, but these 11 states still felt the need to file suit against what basically amounts to a suggestion on how to be a decent human being.

Two, my mother and I were joined at the hip when I was little and I was always in the women’s restroom.  If I had to go pee, she’d take me in with her to do my business because, really, what’s the other option?  Let a four-year-old boy use the restroom alone in a closed room with grown men?  How safe does that sound?  Kudos to this dad and all parents who supervise their kids regardless of the whispers of strangers. But what I really wanted to point out is the fact that I was probably going in the women’s restroom with my mom up until at least late elementary school and never did I see a breast or a vagina on display.  I’m still trying to wrap my head around how these folks can pretend bathroom laws are about protecting the children.  Protecting them from what?  Seeing a woman with a penis?  Is she just going to whip it out on the sink while she does her make-up?  What kinds of bathrooms are these people using?

What they’re really afraid of is predators, and small-minded people are very good and making predators out of non-existent threats if that threat is something they don’t understand or don’t agree with.  Trans people are not a threat to anyone in a restroom, but these laws are supposedly protecting the children from predators.  Meanwhile, we have this father catching a beatdown in the men’s room for bringing his daughter in to pee because some idiot thinks it’s inappropriate for a girl to be in there.  Why?  Because obviously he feels she could be in danger.  Nevermind the fact that men can follow women into the women’s room if they want to commit an assault.  Nevermind the fact that by bringing his daughter with him, this father is actually protecting her from harm.  The Genital Police has a problem with a little girl being around all those grown men with their dicks out because one of them might take it upon himself to commit a crime.

So back to the restroom up top…

Gay Gilmore, one half of the husband-wife team that launched Optimism last December, says the decision to have a unisex bathroom was originally one borne of practicality. “When we were going through all the architectural planning for all of this, we found out there’s code that tells you how many toilet fixtures need to be in the men’s and women’s room,” she says. “We were like, this is just ridiculous. As a woman, realizing that there are often two toilet stalls unused in the men’s room all the time, I realized this is a tremendous, inefficient use of resources.”

Gilmore decided that she wanted all the fixtures to be made available to all patrons at all times. She said that it took weeks for the city to agree to the idea of a unisex bathroom. Then, while Optimism was still in its construction phase, the Seattle City Council passed legislation requiring that all single-stall restrooms be designated as all-gender facilities. “So I was able to say, ‘Look the mayor says this is what you need to do in the city, and I think you should consider each of our stalls as individual stalls, so you have to let me let this through,” Gilmore says..

(cont.)

Aside from being practical (and I’d probably go even a step further and install two toilets for every one urinal), Gilmore has had many patrons with trans kids tell her how safe their kids feel without having to choose.  Extra bonus?  Baby changing table is available for Mom or Dad! (because I almost never see one in the men’s room)

Obviously this layout isn’t feasible for every new business, but this is one instance where the gay bars are one step ahead of the curve.  Most of the gay bars in NYC that I frequent don’t have separate restrooms for men and women.  There is a single-occupancy restroom somewhere on the premises and then an open space layout elsewhere with a row of urinals and stalls with toilets.  The single occupancy restroom sometimes defaults to women, but the point is, they have a choice.  The drag queens have a choice.  The trans folk have a choice.  Everybody has a choice and nobody is playing the Genital Police.  This is a lot of energy being expended by lawmakers on where to go pee.  Don’t most of these states have flagging economies and low performing schools?  Find something more important to focus on.

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