Thursday, January 06, 2005

When earnest political-correctness means better bathrooms

It happens more often than you'd think. Well, twice, and once was on television. On Seinfeld, George Costanza joins toy-manufacturer Play Now and, pretending to be disabled, gets himself a large and elegant private bathroom. I thought of George today as I entered the "single-user" facility on the fourth floor of the Reg. The new bathroom is a result of the campaign to make the transgendered feel comfortable on campus. Well, I'm by no means transgendered, but I sure was comfortable--the place is huge, with relatively flattering mirrors, a long bench, and one locked door, rather than a series of stalls. Well, as I was looking in the mirror, primping in a stereotypically feminine, Kipnis-angering sort of a way, noticing that my hair is significantly redder than I'd thought it was...I began to wonder whether I was doing something unethical by choosing the single-user over the multi-user ladies' room a few feet away. What if a transgendered person, in the middle of doing research in the 4th floor stacks, really had to go, but couldn't, because some dippy girl was in the single-user, seeing if her eyeliner was smudged?

Rather than write in to the Ethicist, I'm going to defer to my knowledgeable readers. Any thoughts?

7 comments:

Maureen said...

Well, as long as you weren't in the bathroom for a really long time (more than ten minutes), I think it would be okay. At first it's tempting to use the handicapped restroom analogy--the idea that one should only use the handicapped stall if the others are for some reason unusable--but then it occured to me that part of the reasons given for desiring "single-user" facilities was because transgendered people didn't want to have to play gender games.

However, as long as only transgendered persons used the facilities, one would be defining oneself as transgendered, which some probably wouldn't feel like announcing to the world. Now that you, a heterosexual woman whom I'd assume has no major gender issues, have used the bathrooms, closeted transgendered people can use the single-user bathrooms without outing themselves, and all students can experience a world without gender for a tiny amount of time.

Anonymous said...

Honestly how many transgendered students can UOC have?

Daniel said...

I agree with Maureen that it is okay to use it (and, by using the better bathroom you are in general encouraging the creation of better bathrooms all around) but I don't think that there should be some time limit placed on the use (separate from the usual bathroom time limits) becaues it is a TG bathroom. I also think it's okay to use the handicapped stall in bathrooms regardless of whether the other ones are empty or not (though, if a handicapped person is obviously waiting, this is a different story). The handicapped have the right to use the bathroom and have facilities in which they can exercise this right, but that doesn't mean that being handicapped allows for the elimination of the wait (something we all have to suffer through from time to time).

Scoffer Staff said...

Now that the Reg has a specific bathroom for the transgendered the transgendered should presumably face the same moral delima you do if they were to use the ladies room. By you using the transgendered bathroom (TB) you could be viewed as offering the olive branch of bathroom usage, that is, I use yours and you use mine. However, a line out side of the TB could be a very awkward thing so discretion should obviously be used. Of course in assuming that a line outside the TB would be awkward I insinuate that all transgendered are ashamed of their sexual status which is of course untrue (I mean why should they be?). I think if I were you I would hold it.

Molly said...

maybe they should have some sort of scanning test where they only let transgendered people into the bathroom? I don't know what it would consist of though...
this happened to me the other day. I was at the GAP trying to try on a 15 dollar skirt that turned out to be ugly and the fitting room was completely filled...then I pointed out that one place had a "vacant" sign on it (this gap had the same door system as airplane bathrooms) but the lady really rudely pointed out that "that's the disabled one." It was actually really embarassing.

Anonymous said...

hmmm...a disabled dressing room, you would think that could get that fixed...what? whats that you say? ohhh it is for disabled PEOPLE. My bad.

Not-a- Generic-User-ID said...

My general stance on restrooms is that all parties should always use the best restroom available. Segregation is something that we, as members of a civilized society, should give a big thumbs down to. Segregating transgendered and non-transgendered is no more legitimate than other forms.