From motherjones.com

From motherjones.com

 

In Emily Bazelon’s article “Making Bathrooms More Accommodating”, she argues that public bathrooms should be more “accommodating” to fit the needs of all groups of people, and not just the socially constructed genders, male and female. She begins by giving insight on the struggles that transgender people have when they have to which restroom to enter. It is difficult for them because their only options are “Men” and “Women.” Bazelon states that if they enter and the people inside “think [they’ve] confused male and female and walked through the wrong door, [they] risk discomfort, or even real trouble.” She argues that this is because the gender categories which determine who can enter the restrooms are “fixed.” According to Bazelon, the idea of “mixing male and female anatomy in [multi-stall] bathrooms and locker rooms” is a touchy subject for a lot of people. In Houston,¬† a law that “protected against discrimination in housing and employment, [due to] race, age ,sexual orientation and gender identity” was voted against and given the nickname, the “bathroom ordinance”. The “opponents” of the law even made shirts with images of a man threatening a girl in the bathroom, in order to discourage people from supporting the law, by “playing on voters’ fears.”

To take her argument a step further, Bazelon provides a story of a transgender teenager, male to female, at a high school in Illinois, who was not allowed to change in the girls’ locker room because of privacy concerns”. Instead, she was sent down the hall to a separate room. Her parents brought a “civil rights complaint”, which resulted in the Department of Education asking the district to allow her to shower and change in the girls’ locker with her peers. They suggested a privacy curtain that she and any other girl could use. Bazelon uses this story as a example of how it is “tricky” for school districts to adjust certain policies to “accommodate” transgender teens.

She then adresses the term “accomodate” , which comes from the Latin word for “to make fitting.” She defines the ward accommodate as a means “to adapt, to bring into agreement or harmony, to furnish with something desired or needed, to favor or oblige.” She provides the negative and positive connotations of the word. The word “accommodation” implies a separation¬† between “the normal and the other.” In contrast, is also provides a “possibility of mutual give and take.”

Later in the article, she bring up the problem of women having to wait in long lines for an open stall, while men have urinals that “keep the line moving” for them. She also claims that this is not seen as an issue of accommodation because men are seen as the “norm.”

According to Bazelon, the root of the issue of transgender people not being allowed in the bathrooms is because of the belief in the “biology of chromosomes.” In actuality, the real thing that transgender people are after is a sense of belonging and fitting in. She concludes the article with talking about the different “self-contorting accommodations” they end up making to “belong” in the bathrooms. She quotes strategies from a guide provided by the Transgender Law Center. The first one is “Invisibility: Don’t speak or look at anyone.” The second strategy is called “Gender Proof”, which says that they should point of physical characteristics that will prove they belong. Bazelon puts emphasis on the word “belong”, claiming that it is a “basic human need we all share.”