As gender equality becomes a more central issue, there is a push at universities across the country to have gender neutral bathrooms. They are now available at over 150 Universities, according to a University of Massachusetts study.
Gender neutral bathrooms already exist on the campus. They are locked and not available to students, just faculty. Making this a reality at Pierce is as simple as unlocking the doors and maintaining them in addition to the facilities that are already in use.
A benefit of gender neutral bathrooms is that they are open to everybody and do not segregate anybody.
In most developed countries, bathrooms are the last place of segregation, but it wasn’t always that way. The first evidence of urinary segregation is in 1739 Paris, according to Sheila Cavanagh, a sociology professor at York University. Prior to that, public restrooms were either gender neutral or for men only.
In the United States the need for women’s restrooms became necessary when women began to enter the workforce in the late 1800s. Massachusetts passed the first law mandating employers to have bathrooms for women if they had female employees in 1887, according to TheHeraldonline.com
Identity is at the core of all of us and who we are. How some body identifies themselves helps to shape their worldviews, and what is valuable to them. Identities are often not something that you choose.
Barack Obama became president largely because he wrote a book on his identity and spoke about it at the 2004 Democratic Convention, launching him into the spotlight.
People have been oppressed for how they identify as far back in history as we know whether due to gender, religion, nationality, race, political views or an array of other identities.
Separate spheres for men and women have been a part of American ideology since the Industrial Revolution, and is commonplace throughout most of the world. Men inhabiting the public sphere while women handle the domestic duties is archaic thinking.
Views on gender and sexuality have progressed over the past century and especially more recently. Tolerance toward transgenders has lagged behind.
Gender is not binary, it is a spectrum. It is estimated that 700,000 Americans identify as transgender, and 71 percent hide their identity, according to the New York Times. A startling 41 percent of transgender people have attempted suicide at some point in their lives, opposed to 4.6 percent of the general public, according to USA Today.
These statistics show there is still much progress to be made in the acceptance of the transgender community. Neutral gender bathrooms are only a minor step in the right direction.
These bathrooms do not exclude anybody from using the men’s or women’s restrooms, including transgender people. It merely provides the option for anybody to choose the bathroom they are the most comfortable using.