To Pee or Not to Pee?: Why Gender Neutral Bathrooms Matter
When I was in elementary school, I traveled across the country to visit my family in Norfolk, Virginia for the first time. During the trip, I had anxiety about moving through new places so I would often hold my pee when we were in public. I had no idea this skill will be utilized often in my life.
If I don’t feel safe in your establishment, I won’t use your restroom. If I feel like your restrooms are disgusting, I won’t use your restroom. Safety and cleanliness are my main priority when using the restroom. I must admit, often, I don’t feel safe peeing in public spaces.
Once on my way from Los Angeles to Atlanta, I had a layover in Dallas, Texas. I entered the women’s restroom and instantly, felt the gaze of several white women and white children. Before I could take a deep breath, one of the kids yelled, “Is that a boy or a girl?” I ran into the stall in embarrassment and heard several chuckles in the bathroom. When I got to the sink to wash my hands, a white woman asked me, “Where are you headed?” I said, “Atlanta.” She responded,“Oh a short flight. You couldn’t have waited to pee, instead of making people uncomfortable?” Before I could say something back, the woman exited the restroom.
Imagine the countless times I’ve been called "sir", been told to “get out”, asked “What are you doing here?” or been stared at by women in wonder. I know some of you are thinking, why not just use the men's restroom since I pass for a male. That doesn’t work either. Once, I was out at a bar in Boston with a few friends. One of my friends, Marcus, attempted to use the men’s restroom and the bouncer tried to escort him to women’s restroom because “he looked like he belonged there.”
This battle of bathrooms is so intersectional for me as black, queer person. My ancestor’s fought for the opportunity to utilize the same nasty ass public bathrooms as everyone else. This fight to pee is complicated and apart of the generational trauma that I have personally experienced.
Here are four tips to make your bathroom facilities more inclusive to all bodies and also some tips on how to support the GNC/trans folks in your life access bathrooms safely.
1. Convert all single stall restrooms to gender inclusive bathrooms
Here are some of my favorite signs:
*Did you know you have gender inclusive restrooms at home?