Why non-gendered bathrooms are not such a great idea

By Autumn Morrison (Co-Editor in Chief) -8/27/16

A student observes the existing segregation of bathrooms by gender
A student observes the existing segregation of bathrooms by gender

Growing tensions regarding the allowance of transgendered people in the bathroom of the gender they identify with versus the sex they were assigned at birth have resulted in much discussion on the topic. While many solutions have been proposed to remedy the issue, one of the most popular solutions is converting all public bathrooms to unisex or gender neutral. These gender neutral bathrooms would be open to all genders, meaning CIS individuals (people who identify with the gender they were assigned at birth), along with transgender individuals, would all share one bathroom. While this may seem like a great solution in theory, the reality is this “solution” would raise so many problems.
Most people against gender neutral bathrooms believe that transgendered individuals pose a threat to CIS women and children and may attack them if given the allowance to use female restrooms. This is an illegitimate fear for more than one reason. Primarily there have been zero reports of assault on children or CIS women by transgendered women sharing a bathroom. Furthermore, in the unlikely event that an assault does occur, laws are still in effect and being permitted to use an area doesn’t give one the right to sexually or physically attack someone; if an assault did occur, the person responsible would be punished regardless of gender identity.
However, real problems do exist with all unisex bathrooms replacing gender specific bathrooms. Firstly, any bathroom adapted for male use would likely include urinals, while these appliances provide a convenient and quick option to the people that use them; they decrease the amount of privacy in public restrooms. This becomes an issue when it is considered that this would increase the chance of people not normally exposed to male anatomy being subjected to male nudity accidentally; even worse, this could increase the chances of sexual harassment with less chances of consequence as nudity would be semi-permitted in these areas. While some may think that this issue could be fixed by removing urinals from bathrooms, this raises the issue that it is unfair to deny urinal users the comfort and convenience they were used to, thus infringing on the rights of the typical man. Additionally, urinals absence would increase the length of bathroom lines as all people would be required to wait for a stalled toilet.
These increased lines would make using public restrooms unpleasant and time consuming. Additionally, doubling the traffic of any bathroom would increase vandalism and litter, making public restrooms require more maintenance. Double the visitors would also require twice as much room, which isn’t a possible addition for all public locations, meaning many public restrooms would be left overcrowded and under-maintained.
Aside from the inconvenience of dual gender bathrooms in public spaces, there is another problem, sharing restrooms means increased interaction of people of the opposite gender. Therefore it must be considered that if couples were allowed to share a bathroom, essentially a private location, inappropriate conduct may ensue, especially in areas like schools. This would no doubt lead to worse attendance as many students currently flee to the bathroom to hide from class with friends, the inclusion of the opposite sex would only add more interest to being away from class. Possible encounters in bathrooms may also increase sexual interaction at younger ages, as teens would have new opportunities for privacy, leading to unplanned pregnancy and the spread of venereal diseases.
While the issue of gendered bathrooms continues to be an issue as long as people insist on alienating transgendered individuals, the solution is not to remove the two bathroom system. Doing so invades the rights and safety of all people, cisgendered and transgendered alike, to ensure that everyone is kept safe and content, people must accept the right of transgendered people to use the bathroom of their choice. Doing so will not only show tolerance and respect but could potentially remove the dangers and discomfort associated with the introduction of non-gendered restrooms.