Most people may not give much thought to the ability to use public restrooms in peace and their choice between the “men” and “women” restrooms. However, there are some people in today’s society that do not feel “at peace” or safe in the restrooms, and who find the choice of which restroom to use to be a difficult one. “Making Bathrooms More ‘Accommodating’” by Emily Bazelon focuses on this sometimes overlooked topic and presents a seemingly simple solution to the problem.
Transgender people have just as much of a right to public spaces as non-Transgender people. However, this right is constantly being ripped from them in others’ failure to accommodate. For example, Bazelon mentions the rejection of what has been called the “bathroom ordinance” in Houston, Texas. Additionally, students are being denied access to the restroom/ locker room that best matches their sexual identity. This rejection and denial creates segregation between groups and isolates people that simply wish to exercise their rights like everyone else.
Bazelon brings up the word “accommodation” and expresses its importance to the subject. “It means to adapt, to bring into agreement… it’s a word that involves moving over to make room for other people, whether you want to or not.” Just as it had to be done many times before in this nation’s history, making the necessary accommodations to fit the needs of everyone is the only way the issue at hand will be resolved. However in regards to using public restrooms, Transgender people seem to be making most of the accommodations.
“However natural separating men and women in the bathroom may seem, it’s a cultural creation…” (Bazelon) This is not to say that bathrooms should not be separated in any way, rather that, just as an accommodation was made for women in the 19th century, an accommodation can be made for transgender people now. However, some women see an accommodation for transgender people as giving “men” the right to invade a space meant for their (the women’s) privacy.
This idea of “No Men in Women’s Bathrooms” poses a problem because it’s an exhibit of a reluctance to change views to develop a better understanding of the situation. People are still stuck in previous gender standards that have since taken a new form. There is no longer just “male” on one side, and “female” on the other. Gender now has its very own spectrum that encompasses a variety of sexual identities. This means that there is no one way to accommodate transgender people, and instead different approaches may have to be taken. For example, while some transgender people are fine with the existing restroom setups, other may prefer a unisex stall. In the case of a 12-year-old transgender girl from Connecticut, she preferred to use the locker room the same as any of her female peers, and a simple curtain for privacy is more than enough “accommodation.”
It seems quite unreasonable for the transgender to make most of the accommodation when using public restrooms. Having to take precautions and refer to guide to just so much as enter the restroom creates a constraint for transgender people that cannot be broken unless others are willing to do some of the accommodation as well. Everyone has a right to use public restrooms and fulfill their bodily needs. Everyone has a right to feel as if they “belong” in society. People should make it a priority to make ensure these rights are upheld.
Bazelon, Emily. “Making Bathrooms More ‘Accommodating’.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 21 Nov. 2015. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.
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