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Sunday, September 22, 2019
CEBU

Lim: Safe spaces

Wide awake

ISN’T it time we had gender-neutral public restrooms? Let’s talk about why we have sex-segregated restrooms in the first place. Historically, women stayed home. When women entered the workforce, sex-segregated restroom facilities was born.

Before long, these gender-specific restroom policies became norm, even mandated in many parts of the world. And everyone went along with it because we were told that they were necessary to provide women privacy as well as protection.

I’ve been to several unisex restrooms around the world and in the ones I’ve been to, the restroom stalls are fully enclosed. Each restroom is a complete unit with a toilet bowl, a lavatory sink, a mirror—much like how our differently-abled restroom facilities are.

Privacy is a non-issue when facilities inside the restroom are complete.

Every argument I’ve read for segregated restrooms brings up the necessity of creating safe spaces for women and children. I have no problem with this. However, I do have a problem with the premise that only those born biologically male can be predatory.

Nevertheless, in the unisex restrooms I’ve been to, all the fully-enclosed restrooms are lined up in an open space, much like a large hall. People queue up in front of the doors for their turn. All doors are in full view of the public so there is absolutely no safety issue.

I agree that safe spaces need to be created—but not just for women and children but also for men and trans people. Predators come in all shapes, sizes and sexual orientations.

With unisex facilities, parents will not have to send their young children into the restrooms on their own because they are of a different gender. With unisex facilities, differently-abled people can have mixed-gender caregivers.

Still, there will be those who will argue that unisex toilets will only create toilet seats filled with men’s urine. True. Some men do have a shooting problem but if men are the problem then why are the toilet seats in the ladies’ rooms still splattered with urine?

Why say men’s toilets are yucky? Have you been there? I haven’t. I’ve only been to the ladies’ but I can tell you that many men would throw up seeing what’s on the seat, in the bowl, on the floor and in the overflowing trash bin.

It’s not about gender or anatomy. It’s about sanitation and hygiene.

But the best thing about gender-neutral restrooms is that it delivers potty parity. Unisex restroom facilities will effectively cut women’s restroom waiting time because now, all seats will be open to us and not just the ones specifically assigned to us. What can be more egalitarian that this?

But what really is the big deal? At home, on the plane, on the train, the restrooms are unisex. So why not just build more and create more safe spaces for all?


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