Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Bathroom Battles

With everything else happening in our society today, the bathroom battle being waged in legislatures across the land is one of those things that I have trouble understanding.

This issue is becoming an emotional one, but I think it deserves to be explored. First off, what is the difference between a bathroom and a restroom? We use the terms interchangeably, but are they? I think not. 

I found this definition on the internet: Toilet is the actual equipment you use to "do your business" (i.e., to urinate or defecate). Bathroom literally means the whole room, in which there is a toilet, a bathtub, and a sink. Restroom is generally used for public spaces (such as restrooms in a restaurant or a rest stop along the freeway.)

An editorial in the Washington Post this morning titled, How the psychology of public bathrooms explains the "bathroom bills," helped me to gain additional perspective, since I am apparently one of those people who do not have a problem using public restrooms. 

The article ends with the following statement: "By focusing our basic fears and making the gender divide so conspicuous, bathrooms are lightning rods for the sorts of hysteria we are now witnessing. Freud wouldn’t have been at all surprised."

Earlier in the article the fears of our society are addressed. I did not realize that up to 15 percent of people have so much anxiety about public restrooms that they schedule their days around their personal habits. The article points out that,  "These fears reflect both the vulnerability we feel in bathrooms and our expectation that these spaces are, and should be, strictly divided by sex. That’s nothing new. Public restrooms have always been riddled with anxiety and conflict. They’ve been sites of panic over contagious diseases, scandalous revelations about lewd behavior and political struggles over “potty parity” between men and women. The current controversy is only the latest saga."

The concerns being expressed about safety will not be mitigated by enacting discriminatory legislation. 

From my perspective there is sufficient privacy in modern public restrooms and no one else needs to know if a transgender person is using the facility. An NPR article titled When a Transgender Person Uses a Public Bathroom, Who is at Risk? confirms that: 

". . . some people just don't understand that when it comes time for a transgender person to start using the other restroom, they'd rather do it privately, and with as little fuss as possible.

"The last thing you as a trans person would want to do is draw attention to yourself. . . "

So I wonder, what is the real problem? Food for thought.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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