Gender neutral toilets/ changing rooms?
Should they be a thing?
I say YES.
Whilst studying the values module many topical issues such as; people living in poverty, people experiencing racism, homophobic comments or the issue of gender neutral toilets undoubtedly comes up but the question is why.
Why are these things we class as ‘issues’ and why do they exist?
I struggle to grasp the concept that in a free society like ours people still have to hide or feel ashamed. Being transgender is not something which people should be made to feel ashamed of, if anything they should be proud.
An interesting TED talk by Ivan Coyote discussed their experience as a transgender and shares a devastating story about their friend’s daughter who didn’t ‘fit in’ with what society view as her birth gender. They tell us how she came home from preschool after peeing her pants because people in her class wouldn’t let her use the girl’s bathroom because she acted like a boy yet the teacher had told her to stay out of the boys bathroom because that wasn’t ‘acceptable’. Ivan dealt with this by telling the wee girl to hold it in if she could and wait till she gets home because they were so unaccepting. I find this disgusting. At the age of 4 children are being discriminated against for how they choose to behave in a social environment. It shouldn’t happen. But the reality is that it does.
If people are endeavouring to call their children gender neutral names such as ‘Max’ or ‘James’, and these be accepted by society, then surely society could become accepting of gender neutral toilets – after all what influence does it have on their lives?
However it’s not all bad. I recently visited Olympia – for those who don’t know what this is, it’s a swimming pool in Dundee – where they have a gender neutral changing room. As soon as I saw this I felt a sense of joy, progress even. In this changing room were a mix of people and amongst these not one person seemed to notice anyone around them. It begs the question of why do people actually fight against it? In a society like ours where so many people are so against things such as gender neutral changing rooms it was a sign of hope, I believe, that Olympia have gender neutral toilets and changing rooms showing that society can be united no matter what if people were more open minded.
As a training teacher to be I want to ensure that no child in my class ever has to experience the likes of what the girl in Ivan’s story did. As someone who identifies as straight I can honestly say I have no issue with having Gender Neutral Bathrooms or Changing Rooms and believe that they are a step in the right direction.
It’s time to make a change.