Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Sunday, May 19
The Indiana Daily Student

The bathroom binary

Any girl who has been to a movie theater, sporting event or mall knows the struggle of a long waiting line for the bathroom.

Despite the significant inconvenience of 30 women waiting for three stalls, the bathroom stall binary has a much bigger cultural consequence. It forces people to follow that same binary.

For women, even more aggravating than waiting in line is the constant vacancy of the male bathroom right next to us.

We’ve all seen (or maybe even been) that one girl brave enough to bridge the gender gap and charge into the empty men’s restroom. We’ve all seen the shocked men’s faces when she emerges.

Cultural stigmas and gendered expectations are leaving us stranded, and yet we keep following them. We should all be like the brave girl and take a stand. It’s time for gender-neutral bathrooms to become the new norm.

Transgender people, and any person not conforming to the gender binary, are put in a tough spot when forced to choose between the skirt or pants signs.

The decision could be confusing for someone unsure of their gender ?identity.

It can unintentionally out someone who is sure in front of prying eyes of peers and coworkers and potentially expose them to harassment.

Having gendered bathrooms adds an extra level of forced cultural gender normative ideas onto one of the most basic human functions. It’s just another way to make sure everyone fits into two boxes — boy and girl — with no ?spillover.

This idea is outdated and harmful — not everyone identifies this way, and it’s time that bathrooms start reflecting that.

Not only is it wrong to force someone to choose in public, it’s also wrong to separate them once they have.

Especially for one-person bathrooms, it makes no sense to implicitly deny access to a toilet to a whole group of people just because the silhouette’s outfit doesn’t match theirs.

Is this space so sacred that a member of a ?different sex can’t enter?

No, it’s not.

Neither one of the bathrooms in the corner gas station is anything special. There is no reason that everyone shouldn’t feel comfortable using either. Stick a urinal and some tampons in both and let it be first come, first serve.

IU’s campus already has a number of gender-neutral bathrooms, especially in the dorms. This restroom revolution is taking hold all around the country, on more than 150 campuses.

As most college campuses represent the most open-minded of people, it makes sense that they would be the first to catch on.

The next step is ?streamlining it.

Eliminate the exposure to uncomfortable and potentially harmful situations for people who don’t conform to the gender binary, and eliminate long lines for those that do.

No one should have to be brave, and no one should have to suffer stares (or worse) just for using an empty bathroom.

Get stories like this in your inbox