Picking a restroom has probably never been a struggle for you. You find the male or female stall and walk right in. No trouble. But imagine a situation where the signs on the wall are not male or female. There are two signs and you don’t fit into either of them. That’s unfair.
We are used to fitting into one of two binaries. The gray space is never often something we really have the worry about. We all want our own space where we belong, especially for something as simple as using the bathroom. For the transgender community, even a city as inclusive as Chapel Hill does not offer a lot of gender neutral bathrooms.
Back in November, CAGE (Carolina Advocating for Gender Equality) started a petition calling for gender neutral bathrooms on campus and in agreeing businesses in Chapel Hill. Four months later, this petition has over 400 signatures and has gained significant interest amongst students on campus.
CAGE’s petition aims to demonstrate the multiple benefits of gender neutral bathrooms. Transgender and gender neutral individuals experience daily discrimination when using public restrooms. A simple solution is for business owners to switch their existing single-stall restrooms to gender-neutral restrooms. If a business has multi-stall bathrooms, they can convert them into single-occupancy bathrooms and install an “occupied/unoccupied” lock on the external door. All that may be necessary is a simple sign to show the gender neutral and transgender community that they are welcome.
Aside from the transgender community, gender neutral bathrooms have use to other members of the community. Parents with small children of a different gender and people with caregivers of a different gender can fully utilize gender neutral bathrooms.
Rachel Allen, a UNC student and co-chairperson of CAGE has pushed for 500 signatures on the petition so that it can be presented to businesses around Chapel Hill. The goal of gender neutral bathrooms is not to eliminate gender, but the promote an inclusive society for everyone. This is a simple solution and a small start to making society more accepting and open to gender fluidity.
We are trying to move forward. We are trying to make society a place where all people are welcome. But as small steps such as CAGE’s petition gain momentum, it seems the government shoots it back down. Just last week, Pat McCrory signed a bill passed by NC Republicans that basically disqualifies gender neutral bathrooms. It basically is trying to make gender neutral bathrooms illegal. The intent is so that people will be ensured privacy and security in bathrooms. But I guess the transgender community is completely disregarded as people who deserve security rights? I think this video describes my feelings perfectly.