The 21st century is a greatly progressive moment in time. We live in a world that is now facing serious ethical issues regarding race, religion, and sexual orientation. Hostility is also high. As Trump was elected, many small and larger groups alike popped up all over the world in opposition to his ideals and plans. This includes everything from the Muslim ban, to the border wall clouding Mexico, all the way to LGBTQ+ rights in the United States. One issue along this spectrum is gender neutral bathrooms. This topic has many underlying implications, and the topic itself is as controversial as it is complex. The idea may seem simple: people should be allowed to go into whatever restroom they identify with. But much lash out has caused more detailed conversation to occur. Many believe that, although not totally opposed to it, the idea of someone enacting inappropriate behavior in the company of someones young daughter or young son raises anxiety.
Yet, an irrefutable amount of discrimination also exists. Many situations are also coupled with derogative terminology and hateful speech towards these groups. For someone who is either in transition from one sex to the next, or who doesn’t identify as male or female (non-binary), it can be quite distressing to face the multitude of discriminative acts aimed towards them.
As a result, many communities and organizations that try to embody inclusivity into their core fundamentals have begun to adopt gender neutral bathrooms to their facilities. These bathrooms essentially act as a 3rd option. Yet, a grey area continues to exist on whether or not someone may face discrimination if they try to enter a bathroom or locker room of their preferred gender. Gender neutral bathrooms are a bridge between traditional views and the upcoming progressive implements of gender neutrality in the world. As time goes on, people may begin to become more comfortable with bathrooms being a place where one can simply do what they are designed for.
This brings me to my next point. While on campus, I took it upon myself to ask students what they thought about gender neutral bathrooms. CU Boulder is a campus that is very much aimed at providing safe spaces, gender neutrality, as well as a plethora of information and resources available to the public and students regarding women’s health, domestic violence, and gender equality. It is firmly planted into the schools rigors that discrimination towards students or faculty based on race, religion, or sexuality are absolutely forbidden. One student, Erika 23, expressed that she wishes more gender neutral bathrooms existed on campus. Although one may find that the school does a fair job at providing gender neutral bathrooms, it becomes quickly apparent that these bathrooms are actually disproportionately placed throughout campus. For example, Erika and myself both can’t recall seeing gender neutral stalls in the Engineering Center, but instead feel that they are mostly located in the Norlin library, as well as the Art/Art History building. It may not be a big deal to some, but for a person who only feels safe in these particular bathrooms I imagine it could be quite inconvenient to have to scout them out and walk across campus just to answer natures call.
Either way, the real issue at hand is the merging of progressive ideals in a country instilled with traditional values. Within these traditional values are positive things such as personal and family values, but underneath a lot of tradition lies an intolerance to change. Traditional values also covet gender norms/roles. This originates the separation of sexes within society, and the do’s and don’ts of the two standardized genders. As a result, previous generations have a difficult time adapting with the times as they feel that these traditional values may be lost. So, while adopting more gender neutral bathrooms across the globe is a good place to start, the real work begins by bridging together these two ideologies as one, and as a result, healing the fractured dichotomy.