The article “Making Bathrooms More ‘Accommodating'” by Emily Bazelon discusses how bathrooms have always been defined by clear standards. She also talks about changes that transgenders want to make traditional bathrooms to make them more accommodating.

An example of the shirt created by opponents of the Equal Rights Ordinance.


Bazelon begins by describing legislation related to the subject of unisex bathrooms.This legislation was called the equal rights ordinance. People opposing the legislation nicknamed it “bathroom ordinance.” These people created shirts, and even a television advertisement that “depicted a man threatening a girl in the stalls.”


Schools have been able to allow transgender students at their schools to participate in things such as sports, but have trouble when it comes to bathrooms and other aspects such as changing. The article continues on about a transgender student who identified themselves as a female in Illinois. The district she went to school in did not allow her to change in the same bathrooms as other females. After a civil rights complaint was made, the United States Department provided her with a private curtain to attend to her needs and the needs of the other female students.


Bazelon goes on to define the word accommodate, and she also gives its Latin definition as “to make fitting.” She says that the word can be positive, but it can also have a “compulsory” connotation. It is compulsory because it is a way to force people “to make room for other people.” Bazelon also gives examples of different types of people that accommodations have been made for, including religious people and people with disabilities. The word accommodate tends to separate the group that the accommodations are being made for. It separates people into two groups: “normal and the other.” According to Mara Keisling, transgenders are the ones that have been accommodating. (Bazelon)

History of Separation

Bazelon points out that separating bathrooms between males and females has been going on since the Victorian era. (Bazelon) She also describes it as something that is due to the culture of wanting to protect females. For example, she describes how shopgirls would have “retiring rooms” for in case they got dizzy or faint. (Bazelon) White females in the 1940s also did not want to use the same bathrooms as their black co-workers. (Bazelon)

An example of separated restrooms.


The author points out that due to these cultural expectations, women are stuck in line while waiting for the bathroom, while men are able to cruise through their bathroom. She states that sociologist Erving Goffman talks about how women’s rooms are “expected to be more refined and genteel than that of a men’s room.” Women are not comfortable with someone claiming they are a female when they have male parts. Bazelon talks about how some people prefer unisex bathrooms. When it comes to transgender girls though, female locker rooms prove a problem. Accommodation is something that can be applied to many different groups of people in life. It allows people that feel outcast to “belong,” which is “a basic human need we all share.”


Emily Bazelon describes the problems that transgenders face in our society today. She focuses on problems with separate bathrooms and locker rooms. She also describes how accommodating can be seen as either negative or positive. Anyone looking for more information on problems facing transgenders can look to this article for a sufficient amount of information.


BAZELON, EMILY. “Making Bathrooms More Accommodating.” New York Times Magazine. 17 November 2015. Web. 13 February 2016.