Gender Neutral Bathrooms — Best of the Left Activism

You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Gender Neutral Bathrooms.

Sometimes the answer to a problem is so simple, cheap, and easy to lobby for it’s a wonder it hasn’t already been handled.

This show has talked about the violence perpetrated against trans people due to overt bigotry, misogyny, and discrimination. Because of that and other factors, trans people are more likely to commit and attempt suicide than any other group. (The information for Trans Lifeline — (877) 565-8860 — a suicide hotline staffed by trans people for trans people is listed below.)

What we don’t talk about much is the day to day hassles and micro aggressions that feed the culture of violence against trans people.

Parker Molloy, a Chicago-based trans woman writer, described what an afternoon of errands used to be like for her in an interview with The Chicagoist:

"One thing that a lot of transgender people struggle with is...well, for me, there was a period in my life where I was started taking hormones, and if you saw me in public, you'd be like, 'I have no clue what you're even going for here. Man? Woman? What?' ...I kind of hit this weird androgynous phase. It was to the point where, if I walked into the men's room, I'd get a lot of weird looks, and if I went into the women's restroom, I'd get a lot of weird looks. And so, rather than continuing to do that, before one of the weird looks became a scream, or became violent, I just decided to use the bathroom at home. Which is super inconvenient and hard. I would sit there and schedule my errands for making sure I wasn't away from the house for more than a few hours… Which is really sad that that has to be an issue, but it is an issue.”

The cities of Austin, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and West Hollywood have all taken a simple step to alleviate both the stress of those situations and the potential for violence by enacting ordinances to make single-use bathrooms gender-neutral. The fix is cheap — usually $20-$50 at a Home Depot for supplies to change the signs — and most patrons don’t really notice the difference. West Hollywood business owners have even discovered a handy side-effect: shorter lines because anyone can use any of their bathrooms.

Kentucky State Senator CB Embry, Jr. is pushing legislation that would bar transgender students from using the locker rooms and bathrooms that match their identities — and he’s not alone. The easiest way to prevent new discriminatory legislation is to create a cascade of proactive, rights-affirming legislation. And the good news is you have loads of power at the local level where gender neutral ordinances are being introduced!

Go to your next city council meeting, call your alderman or your city council member and connect with your local LGBTQ group to lobby for change where you live. If cities and states can go smoke-free in public places for health and safety despite the tobacco and business lobbies, swapping out a couple of signs should be an easy ask.


Call and write your local alderman/city councilperson to push for local gender neutral bathroom ordinances.

Additional Activism/Resources:

TransLifeLine is a crisis hotline staffed by trans people for trans people. Contact them via Twitter and phone: US (877) 565-8860, Canada (877) 330-6366

Sources/further reading:

"INTERVIEW: The Advocate's Parker Marie Molloy on Grantland, Piers Morgan, and More” at The Chicagoist

"A trans advocate’s perspective on Trans 101 questions” at Transadvocate

"TLDEF Condemns Kentucky Bill Targeting Transgender Students for Discrimination” via TransGender Legal

"No label required on West Hollywood's gender-neutral bathrooms” at LA Times

"Austin Makes Gender-Neutral Bathrooms Out Of All Single-Use Stalls, And Other Cities Should Take Note” at Bustle

"My Transgender Coming Out Story” ebook by Parker Mollow

Hear the segment in context:

Episode #904 "Opt for compassion and inclusion (Transgender Rights)"

Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

Showing 1 reaction

  • C Q
    commented 2016-03-01 06:31:44 -0500
    Providing “Gender-Neutral” bathrooms is not the right way to deal with those whom are victimized because they say they’re of a different gender. It only perpetuates one form of discrimination over another—namely that of discriminating against those of us whom identify as heterosexual & whom expect a certain level of moral decency with respect to the gender we identify with.

    This is setting a dangerous precedent which seeks to gravely undermine the very fabric of our own human existence…

    I strongly disagree and I urgently implore anyone with enough common decency and respect for modesty to consider the implications of this insouciant attempt to degrade the human species to nothing more than a perverted collective of “non-threatening” and equally “threatening” individuals, whom do not respect another person’s desire for their own privacy to be rightfully protected by a properly placed category.
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