The Fight For Gender Neutral Restrooms
Politics and Activism

The Fight For Gender Neutral Restrooms

Gender neutral restrooms are the hot topic this month because of President Trump's recent change on their policy that President Obama put into place. This article talks about the political controversy surrounding the restrooms and my experience inside of one.

Whatever Just Wash Your Hands

This February 22nd, President Donald Trump rescinded the President Obama era rule that claimed Title IX allowed transgender students the use of whichever bathroom they identified with (Fox News). 44th President Obama issued the guideline in May of 2016 that the New York Times describes by stating, "that was sent to all school districts, outlining what schools should do to ensure that no student was discriminated against. The letter did not have the force of law, but it contained an implicit threat: Schools that did not abide by the Obama administration’s interpretation of the law could face lawsuits or a loss of federal dollars."

The effect of Trump's law will not have an immediate or great impact on schools in the United States according to this New York Times article that states, "Individual schools will remain free to let transgender students use the bathrooms with which they are most comfortable. And the effect of the administration’s decision will not be immediate because a federal court had already issued a nationwide injunction barring enforcement of the Obama order." The effect of the bill notwithstanding, Trump's order caused those on the left and the right wing to split their decision politically.

The right's outlook on transgender bathrooms is straightforward. Their issue is not with the bathrooms, but with the people that may misuse them. The right believes that anyone could claim that they are another gender and use any bathroom they want because there is no one definition of someone being transgender. The right worries that someone with malicious intent could go into another gender's bathroom and take advantage of being alone with the opposite gender in a private place.

The left's is an argument against the idea that someone would take advantage of the liquid gender policy in restrooms. The left also states that transgender bathroom will help the community and aid in the fight for transgender rights. The left points to the statistics that state that transgender people have a disproportionately high rate of suicide. USA Today published an article claiming "Transgender people face alarmingly high risk of suicide" and states, "41% try to kill themselves at some point in their lives, compared with 4.6% of the general public." The left's argument relies on the idea that a choice of restroom will help the transgender community and that the idea of gender is a societal construct rather than biological.

Both the left and the right's arguments can be seen in action on the Fox News interview linked earlier and here.

While usually I do not engage with political controversy, transgender restrooms affected me at my school. This year I was between classes and headed to a restroom. I happened to be in a different building than I have my classes, and it took me a second to find the restrooms. I found the women's restroom, and according to my binary thoughts on my gender in regards to restrooms, I headed for the next restroom. To my surprise, I did not find a male restroom. Instead, I found an "all gender restroom." I looked around to make sure I was not in the wrong place. When nothing else seemed wrong, I went into the restroom.

Inside of the restroom, it looked normal for a men's restroom. Urinals lined the walls, and there were a few stalls to the side. I took care of my business while other males used the restroom, and I left. There was nothing remarkable about that restroom besides the sign.

It appears to me that the school felt pressure on the laws under President Obama, and they took the most logical route. To not have their funding come into question, the school took off the men's restroom sign and put an all gender restroom sign in its place. This is pretty smart. Less than $20 for a sign and some glue beats the multiple thousand dollar cost of remodeling the building and putting in a new restroom. Taking into account that the school's restroom action came at a time when they were making much needed infrastructure improvements make the cheap men to all gender restroom swap seem more logical.

My thinking point after all this is that transgender restrooms are based on equality, but swapping one gender's restroom sign and taking another off is not equal. Have an all gender and an all female restroom is not transcending from binaries. When it come to the money I would like to invest in my school, I would rather it go towards quality of education than an all gender restroom. This is not because I think they are not needed, but because institutions of higher education are largely tolerant of diversity, and universities will make a bigger impact on the whole student body with a better infrastructure.

Transgender bathrooms on school campuses will continue. I speculate that it will be at the institution's behest whether they build a new bathroom or not. If it came down to replacing broken classroom equipment or a new all-gender restroom, I think new classroom equipment would be the better investment. If someone argues that this situation will make going to school hard on transgenders, that might be true. However, a bathroom is a small issue on the map of a larger force transgenders face. To support transgender students and all students, schools already have counselors in place to assist with troublesome thoughts and to fight against bullying.

If society thinks that a bathroom is the only thing between them and equality, they are sorely mistaken. With the attentions shifting to education, there might be hope for people to see where they can dispel their ignorance and intolerance.

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

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