Friday, December 11, 2015

I'm not offended...

..., but would you care if I were?

Yesterday I stopped by a coffee shop situated in the liberal capital of a conservative state, only to be completely confused when I went to the toilet -- labeled "gender-neutral". Now, I'm aware that there are bathroom discussions and debates raging around the country. Also, I grew up in a "gender-diverse" (not neutral) home with only one bathroom. So I understand the concept of a bathroom not being for just one gender. Plus, there are plenty of businesses that only have one bathroom (caveat usor). So I'm not unaware of this business about doing your business. But...

First, the gender-neutral bathroom struck me as a bathroom that is for people who are gender-neutral (as in a bathroom labeled "men" is for men,a bathroom labeled "women" is for women and a bathroom labeled "gender-neutral" is for gender-neutral). I'm not neutral about my gender, so I wasn't sure whether I was welcome. Second, the "gender-neutral" label that they had was confusing, if not a little disconcerting. Does having a half-man/half-woman symbol really give us the information that this bathroom is welcoming for all who apply? Third, there was a "Monty Hall problem". There were TWO doors labeled "gender-neutral". I felt like I was on "Let's Make a Deal". Do I choose door # 1 or door # 2? Is the left bathroom for gender-neutral liberals and the right one for gender-neutral conservatives? "Is there no help for the widow's son?" Finally fate took its course. Door # 1 was locked, so I chose door # 2 (and locked it).

In my opinion, the "gender-neutral" label is political correctness run amok. Why not just call it a toilet and leave it at that? Sam Killermann (doubtless with much sarcasm) suggested there should simply be a commode icon on the door. Makes sense to me! Have a look: 

Seriously, "gender-neutral" may mean different things to different people.* A toilet symbol probably makes people expect to see a toilet behind "door # 1"! Let all single service bathrooms be "first come, first serve". But don't try to make us swallow your political and philosophical agenda as well. 

*For example "relating to, intended for, or common to any gender" is radically different from "noting or relating to a person of neutral gender, neither male nor female."

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