Reading Summary 4: “Making Bathrooms More Accommodating”

In “Making Bathrooms More Accommodating,” Emily Bazelon dives into the relatively new controversy our society is facing.  Transgender citizens are fighting for the right to use the restroom of their choice: male or female.  Or even for the inclusion of an all gender restroom.  Any solution will do, as they feel as though they are not being accommodated for in this section of everyday life in America.

Recently, In Texas, what has been tagged as the “bathroom ordinance” was rejected and attacked with a vicious campaign that advocated for “No Men In Women’s Bathrooms.”  Such feelings toward the proposal of the law were prompted by its vague nature and seemingly dangerous potential.  Citizens were disgusted at the idea of legislation possibly opening up an opportunity for transgenders to be allowed in the same restroom as women, as they felt that they are not equal and crime would result from it. However in Illinois, action favoring the wishes of transgenders has already begun to take form.

A teenager that was born male but has underwent surgery and is identified as a female officially was denied the right to change in the girl’s locker room by the school board.  However, the United States Department of Education stepped in and requested that the district allow her to change in the girl’s locker room behind a curtain.  The purpose of the privacy curtain is to accommodate for the transgender girl so that no student feels uncomfortable.

With that being said, the author takes the time to dissect the actual meaning of the word accommodate and why is so problematic in an issue such as this one.  At first glance, it does not seem as if their is anything wrong with the use of the word as its latin roots mean, “to make fitting.”  However, Baezlon insists that “’s a word that involves moving over to make room for other people, whether you want to or not.”  The author associates a negative connotation with the word “accommodate” which seemingly gives away her position on the particular issue.  To prove she is not biased, she mentions others who feel the same as her and provides examples.

Activists usually dislike the word “accommodate” as well, as it implies that the group you are accommodating for is not normal.  Many feel that if you truly belong somewhere then you shouldn’t have to be accommodated for.  While there are some that disagree.  Mara Keisling points out that it promotes compromise and leads to a more civil society.  The demands of transgenders are new to us and we aren’t used to them but our values are, by the same token, old.  Since the Victorian era, men and women’s place of privacy have been separate and transgenders believe that particular practice along with others in our society, oversimplifies their existence.  They simply ask for a reconsideration of how accessible bathrooms are these days, just as we reconsidered the accessibility for handicapped citizens in the past.

All in all, Bazelon’s article addressed an increasingly relevant issue in today’s society.  Are transgenders being marginalized in the most personal area of their lives?  It will take several trials and fights to finally reach the answer but the first step is starting the conversation.  Bazelon is not only starting the conversation in her article, but also refining it by going deeper into the true actions behind accommodation.


Bazelon, Emily. “The New York Times Magazine.” Editorial. Making Bathrooms More ‘Accommodating’ 17 Nov. 2015: n. pag. The New York Times, 17 Nov. 2015. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.