Bathrooms have been in the news a lot lately, due largely to new and existing laws in many US states which require people to use the bathroom which corresponds with the sex they were identified with at birth, rather than the gender that best fits for them.
Our culture tends to limit it’s understanding of gender to only two options: man and woman. Here at Canadian Memorial, we recognize that there are more than two genders, and an infinite variety of gendered experience in the world.
Many of the single-stall bathrooms at Canadian Memorial have been gender-neutral for years, because that is what made the most logistical sense. A few weeks ago we updated the signs on our two most frequently-used bathrooms, on the main floor of the Centre for Peace. Transgender and gender-variant people often experience anxiety and abuse around bathroom use. And we wanted to be very clear that all bodies are welcome here.
Interested in learning more? Read on!
Who Benefits from Gender Neutral Bathrooms?
- People who are uncomfortable in men’s or women’s rooms for many reasons; for example, people who are not women or men and/or people who are gender nonconforming
- Parents/caregivers whose children are a different gender from them
- People with caregivers or personal attendants who are a different gender from them
Resources on gender neutral bathrooms
- Gender neutral bathroom 101 and FAQ from Portland Community College www.pcc.edu/resources/aspcc/rock-creek/qrc/gender-neutral.html
- “Transgender People Need Safe Restrooms,” a Huffington Post article by Mason Davis, Executive Director of the Transgender Law Project www.huffingtonpost.com/masen-davis/transgender-people-need-saferestrooms_b_3492067.html
- Toilet Training, a 30-minute documentary video on the need for safe bathrooms for all, from Tara Mateik and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project http://srlp.org/resources/toilettraining
Basic Definitions About Gender Identity
Biological Sex: The biological attributes such as anatomy, chromosomes, and hormones that inform whether a person is male, female, or intersex. Where sex refers to biology, gender refers to the cultural and social understandings that are layered on top of biology.
Gender Identity and Expression: Gender Identity is an individual’s internal sense of being a man, a woman, neither of these, both, and so on. That identity is expressed in the ways in which a person manifests masculinity, femininity, both, or neither through appearance, behavior, dress, speech patterns, preferences, and more.
Gender Binary: A system of classifying sex and gender into two distinct and disconnected forms—male/man/masculine and female/woman/feminine—and assigning all bodies, identities, roles, and attributes to one side or the other. The gender binary is dependent on policing people to make sure they don’t digress from the system in appearance, anatomy, or behavior.
Sexual Orientation: The gendered pattern of a person’s sexual attractions, or the gender of the people a person is attracted to. Gender identity refers only to a person’s own self. Gender and sexual orientation are often lumped together, despite being different. Transgender individuals can be lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, straight, or any other sexual orientation. Everyone has a sexual orientation.
Transgender: First coined to distinguish gender benders with no desire for surgery or hormones from transsexuals, those who desired to legally and medically change their sex, more recently transgender, trans, and/or trans* have become umbrella terms popularly used to refer to all people who transgress dominant conceptions of gender, or at least all people who identify themselves as doing so. The definition continues to evolve.
Cisgender: A term that is becoming increasingly popular to describe people who are not trans or gender variant—in other words, those whose gender identities, presentations, and behavior “match” (according to the gender binary) the sex they were assigned at birth.
Gender Non-Conforming / Gender Variant: General terms for people who bend gender in some way and/or have non-binary gender identities.
* From: http://www.uua.org/lgbtq/identity/transgender