Gender-Neutral Bathrooms Erase The Bathroom Culture That We Girls Grew Up With
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

Gender-Neutral Bathrooms Erase The Bathroom Culture That We Girls Grew Up With

This is a shift in our society and culture that will definitely take time to get used to.

Gender-Neutral Bathrooms Erase The Bathroom Culture That We Girls Grew Up With
Mandi Sit

Walking into the bathroom straight into my crush? Or that random hookup the one night? Restrooms are supposed to be one space where I can avoid the other gender, aren’t they?

I consider myself more open-minded than the average person. From participating in immersions, living on the East and West Coasts, and being a huge bookworm my entire life, I’ve experienced and been exposed to a wide variety of people, identities, and perspectives, and I consider empathy to be one of my greatest qualities.

When I heard about the Gender Inclusive Restroom Initiative for Santa Clara University’s Graham Residence Hall, I loved the idea. We shouldn’t live in a world of labels and a person should be allowed to go whichever bathroom regardless of what it says on the door.

However, over the last 2 weeks, I have found myself unconsciously avoiding the new Gender Inclusive Bathroom. Honestly, walking into the bathroom where I could see potentially see my guys friends, a crush, an ex, a random hookup — any guy — makes me very uncomfortable. Although there were extra barriers that blockaded the bottom and top of the stalls, adding extra privacy when we do our business, it’s the contact with the other gender that occurs before and after going into the stall that makes me nervous.

Gender-specific bathrooms have a very definitive culture. It goes all the way back to middle school where us girls would use the bathroom as more than just a restroom for those awkward middle school dance moments when we wanted to avoid slow dancing with the boys or when we needed to talk to our friend(s) in private. Bathrooms were our go-to place, especially since there were not many places at school to have privacy. We utilized the spaces we were given.

As we grew up and transitioned to high school, bathrooms held that same purpose, at Prom or in between class periods. Gender-specific bathrooms are not simply just a place to do our business but they serve as the go-to spot for breaking down in tears, for being honest with our friends, and for sharing our feelings, especially when it comes to talking about the other gender. (You know when girls ask their friend or their entire group of friends to go to the bathroom with her? We definitely didn’t just happen to all need to go to the restroom all of a sudden. This is why.)

Gender-neutral bathrooms erase that gender separation and thus we lose that bathroom culture that we grew up with and have become so accustomed to.

Nonetheless, I couldn’t avoid the Gender Inclusive Bathrooms at SCU, especially since I have class in Graham on Tuesdays and Thursdays afternoons right next to the bathrooms (and it's more inconvenient to go upstairs to the single gender restrooms). And so, during the pilot program, I ended up using the Gender Inclusive Bathrooms four times. Walking into the bathroom the first time, I was afraid of running into a guy I knew.

However, nobody was in there, and so I was immediately relieved. As the days went on, I became more comfortable with the idea of a gender-neutral restroom, but that’s only because there wasn’t much restroom traffic during those times. The fourth time, there was another person in the stall, and honestly, I delayed leaving my stall because I didn’t know the gender of the other person which made me nervous.

In theory, I’m very supportive of Gender Inclusive Bathrooms. But in practice, this is a shift in our society and culture that will definitely take time getting used to. It’s weird. Scary. Awkward. New. Unpredictable.

For the past 20 years, I’ve been accustomed to entering the restroom labeled “Women.” The only time I have hated being a girl has been waiting in line for women’s public restrooms. There’s nothing more frustrating than watching men stand in line for the men's restroom, go in, and leave all in the course of 5 minutes while I wait for another 20 minutes.

So there are obvious benefits to having Gender Inclusive Restrooms beyond the gender inclusivity aspect. Moving forward, I believe that I'll be more open to these types of bathrooms. And though it's uncomfortable, there is a beauty in discomfort, of learning to branch beyond our comfort zone and take on new and different experiences. Let's just be realistic: this change in mindset is not going to happen overnight.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

23 Pandemic-Approved Date Ideas That'll Send Sparks Flying From Six Feet Apart

There's a safe way to date right now and yes, it includes masks.


While some people would rather opt out of dating altogether during the pandemic so they don't have to wear a mask on a first date, others are choosing to listen to both guidelines and their heart in order to find love during the time of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Should you be one of the individuals welcoming romance right now, there are pandemic-approved dates you can go on that still adhere to guidelines (and yes, you'll have to wear a mask).

Keep Reading... Show less

20 Books About Latin And Hispanic Heritage Absolutely Everyone Should Have On Their Bookshelf

Any ally of the community needs to be reading these incredible reads.


I go through phases when it comes to what I like to read. I am typically reading two books at any given time: one serious nonfiction and one escapist fiction novel to have on hand and open up depending on my mood.

What remains consistent, however, amongst most of my fellow bibliophiles is a desire to try new and different authors and genres. I, as an Indian woman, have been partial to reading books written by fellow Indian and Desi writers since I first got a library card.

Keep Reading... Show less

In our patriarchal society, men hide from their feelings, but toxic masculinity is literally killing men. They swallow the pain and move on so that they can look, feel, and act "tough."

But, strength is derived from asking for help and voicing your struggle and, trust me, working on your mental health is one hell of a struggle. The real way to "man up" is to acknowledge the downfalls in unjust societal norms. Mental health problems do not mean that a man is weak, they are neurologically-based disorders that require professional treatment.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Asked 46 Women What They Thought About The Term 'Plus-Size', And Here's What They Had To Say

It's 2020, where change is inevitable and norms are not only questioned, but challenged.


We live in a world where it's become customary to push boundaries, break rules, and question standards upheld by society. Though try as we might, some of these standards are harder to conquer than others — body image is one of the top contenders.

For years, the body positivity movement has pushed for the acceptance of all marginalized body types not represented or celebrated in the media. Recently, we've gotten better at appreciating and accepting all body types, but one thing that's still lingering is the stigma of body image in the fashion industry — more specifically, the term "plus-size."

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

Sorry, But 'I Don’t Care About Politics' Is Not A Valid Excuse For NOT Voting

The younger generation of voters is so crucial to the upcoming election because our vote is going to shape the world that we are about to enter as adults.


When I ask my friends if they are voting this term most of them respond with "no" followed by an explanation of "I don't care enough," "It doesn't affect me," or "I don't keep up with politics," etc. I get it, as a college student I know that there are many other things to be concerned about like school, relationships, work, and friends. I also understand that keeping up with politics can seem like trying to keep up with an over-exaggerated reality show that has way too many seasons. Not to mention most news stations and websites are biased so it's hard to decipher if what you hear is true or fake.

However, despite all of this annoyance, as the next generation of Americans, we have to remember that we owe it to ourselves, our families, and to our futures to care.

Keep Reading... Show less

Taylor Swift Sang 'betty' At The ACMs And It Was The Perfect First Live 'folklore' Performance

I guarantee that Inez is spreading rumors about how fire this performance was.


The Academy of Country Music Awards were last night and the performances were wonderful, but Taylor Swift's live version of "betty" from her newest album "folklore" really took the cake for me.

Keep Reading... Show less
Photo by Anna Hernández-Buces

"Do you have big parties on Cinco de Mayo?"

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

9 Reasons I Unfollowed All The Fitness Influencers On My Instagram Feed

I don't need to feel bad about myself because of who I follow on social media.


Throughout quarantine, something that a lot of us picked up on was working out. With all the free time, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to work on that "dream bod" you've been wanting for years, or to just feel good about yourself.

A common way to stay motivated and keep yourself on-task is to follow fitness influencers on various platforms. For some people, yes, this can be a healthy and helpful way to keep your drive. In other cases, however, this can do more harm than good.

Keep Reading... Show less

The Ultimate Guide To Being A Latinx And Hispanic Community Ally

Educate and celebrate their culture to lift the community up.


It's well known that the Gen-Z and millennial generations are more passionate about social justice and conscious about their decisions as consumers as any other generation to come before us.

For these generations, making mindful decisions about where we like to allocate our money, who we choose to follow on Instagram, and even the books we like to read are extremely important to us. With the rise of the digital age, we are constantly consuming media and content, and so there's no longer an excuse for being uneducated if we want to be educated on a wide range of cultures.

Keep Reading... Show less

It was a day we all knew would possibly come but hoped it never would. The day the outbreak hit.

I remember, back in March, I was just about to return home from a socially distanced vacation in my Florida home with my mom and grandpa, when my dad called to tell us he was feeling sick. At the time, President Trump hadn't closed the borders, my school was still going back after Easter, and sheer panic hadn't yet flooded our news outlets. We were meant to return home on Saturday, but when the borders closed on Thursday, things got a little more serious.

Keep Reading... Show less

21 Romance Novels You'll Fall In Love With By The Fire

It's time to cozy up and fantasize about our fav fictional love stories.


Recently, I found myself reading a bunch of romance novels and it's truly unleashing the romantic side of me. With fall weather nearing, it's the perfect time to cozy up with a good book and ignite the romantic flame in your hearts with the turn of every page.

Here are 21 romantic books you should read this fall, some I've read (hence the reviews), and some I'm hoping to get my hands on.

Keep Reading... Show less

There is a lot going on in the world right now, much of which is contributing to the mental health crisis we've found ourselves in. While it would be fantastic to snap our fingers and jump out of our rut, that's not exactly how these things work. Thankfully, small, sustainable steps can make a huge difference in your mental wellbeing.

Keep Reading... Show less

These 10 Oversized Graphic Tees Are JUST As Cute As Urban Outfitters — And They're All Under $30

There is never a bad time to get some new oversized graphic tees, especially when they're all under $30.


While we all love Urban Outfitters' graphic tees, it can be hard to justify a $40 T-shirt, so I am always on the hunt to find cheaper alternatives that are just as stylish! Thrifting is always an option for authentic, vintage tees, but we don't always have the time to search through the endless aisles of Goodwill.

Lucky for you, there are still affordable alternatives that don't require quite as much effort.

Keep Reading... Show less

On Monday, "Dancing with the Stars" returned to our televisions with their 29th season. This season featured a lot of different changes including a new host, a new judge as well as a new judging system.

Among these changes, there were also changes to account for the coronavirus pandemic. Some of these changes included practicing socially distancing as well as different filming practices.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments