Bathroom Hysteria – Q&A

As I often do, I shared my post “Bathroom Hysteria” on another social network called Postwaves. From that posting I received a question from one of the members there asking if I thought that school locker rooms should be separated by gender. I feel like the question can be applied to any public facility like bathrooms and locker rooms. I wanted to share my answer with my awesome readers. I invited and encourage debate as well.

I do not think that we need separate restrooms or locker rooms for men and women, I think that we need to redesign public facilities completely. Public restrooms are created for one purpose and one purpose only, to allow people to urinate or defecate while they are away from home, wash their hands and then return to their business. Locker rooms at schools have the purpose of allowing people to change their clothing and maybe take a shower. (Though my son’s high school doesn’t allow anyone except the sports teams to use the showers in the locker rooms.)

We do not segregate restrooms in a private setting, so why is there a need to separate the men’s room from the women’s room in a public? The answer is, there isn’t a need for it at all. If public restrooms were redesigned to hold multiple stalls and urinals, both men and women could use the restroom and without the mass hysteria that the transphobic people are trying to spread. As for locker rooms, a design containing single stall changing areas for those needing to change their clothing would suffice. There are a lot of young teens that don’t want to change in front of anyone and are often harassed because of this. Mass gender locker rooms are often where body image issues begin, by creating a safe space where people can change without being judged by others around them because of their looks there is a possibility of lessening eating disorders, low self-esteem and other mental health problems that arise from the peer-led torment that occurs in locker rooms.

I’ve heard arguments that bathroom bans will keep sexual predators such as rapists and child molesters out of the ladies room, and my first question is what about the young boys that will have to face using the restrooms with these predators? Young boys and men are all but forgotten when people are crying foul to protect “women and children”.  My second question is, what makes anyone believe that by banning transgender people from using public gender-segregated restrooms that anyone will be protected from being assaulted in the restroom?

I have a good friend from Mississippi that was nearly assaulted in a public restroom at a Greyhound station in Fayetteville, North Carolina by a cis-gendered man. I have permission to share her story and would like to share it here:

“I don’t normally post a lot of personal things. I have nothing against people who do, within reason anyway. It’s just not usually my thing. As you may have guessed, this is not one of those normal posts. So here goes.

There’s been a lot of posts crossing my feed lately about trans people using bathrooms, “what about the children”, and so forth. Much of it has been pure speculation, so I’d like to lay a little real-world experience on you.

Once upon a time, I was at the Greyhound Station in Fayetteville, NC. (How coincidental is that?) While I was washing my hands, a man walked in. I don’t mean “a man dressing as a woman”. I mean a man. Or at least a human being of the clearly male gender. I said “I think you’re in the wrong room, sir” in a pleasant tone. While I was saying that, he crossed the room and slammed me into the sink. Dude had plans, and wasn’t in the mood to take “no” for an answer.

Two things were immediately obvious. First, it was a virtual certainty that I was going to lose the struggle. He was way out of my weight class. Second, the odds of rescue were rather slim no matter how much I screamed. The place was just about deserted, and the bathrooms were away from the main traffic area. He’d chosen his time & place well.

In the midst of all this – and “all this” was only a few seconds, even if it seemed like an eternity at the time – the door opened again. And I heard a voice. A low, soft, Southern-drawl female voice that said “You really don’t want to do that.” Mr. Flannel Shirt looked up and said “What are you gonna do? I can take two women as easily as one.”

I’d gotten my head free by this point, and caught a glimpse of a well-dressed, middle-aged businesswoman in an expertly tailored suit. She looked at me, smiled, and then looked back at him. She moved closer.

“That may be true, but here’s the thing. I haven’t always been a woman.”

And she grabbed him by the neck, spun him around, and knocked him out cold with one punch from her exquisitely manicured fist.

She asked if I was alright, and if I needed to do anything else in there. She volunteered to stand watch. “No, thank you so much, I’m fine. Let’s get out of here.” She agreed, and paused for a moment to check her nails. “I really must remember to thank my manicurist, not even a chip.” And we laughed.

Turned out she was going to the same bus as me. We shared company all the way to NYC, including a lovely meal in Baltimore during the layover. She was one of the best travel companions I’ve ever had.

Thank you, Stella, wherever you are. I hope life has been kind to you. You were an angel when I needed one most.”

Now, I’m sure someone is going to say that this is a prime example of why we should have segregated restrooms but ask yourself this, is a deserted public restroom any less dangerous for an individual than a dark alleyway, an empty store, a park, or any of the other nearly countless locations where sexual assault and rape often take place. The answer is no.

Approximately 4 out of 5 instances of rape are committed by someone that the victim personally knows. That means only about 20% of the sexual assault or rape cases are perpetrated by strangers, and only 18% of cases happen in a public area, and only 7% happen at a school.

Perhaps if there was more concern for catching the sexual predators and punishing them with more than a slap on the wrist and community service these rates would be even lower.

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