Can you be arrested for relieving yourself in a public restroom?
While using the restroom is a common task in everyday life, it is an issue of comfortability for some that has led to arrests and attacks.
Last Wednesday, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project’s documentary “Toilet Training” brought awareness of the difficulties involved with transgender individuals and bathroom usage.
Presented by Residential Life, Living Center North and the LGBT Advisory Committee, the 30-minute documentary told stories of how being transgender has affected their bathroom lifestyles.
By entering a gender segregated restroom, it may give an impression that only those who fit the norm of the respective room will be there.
When someone who does not fit that norm enters the room, particularly transgenders, others in the room may feel intruded upon.
Based on the assumption of someone’s gender, several people have been denied access to use a bathroom because they were said to be in the inappropriate room.
“How can you even tell if someone’s transgendered? I don’t stare at people when they go to the bathroom,” said psychology senior Tracey Little.
Situations of being uncomfortable can cause transgendered people to avoid bathroom usage. This creates health concerns.
Not using the restroom at appropriate times can lead to bladder infections, urinary stones and cysts.
An alternative to gender segregated bathrooms is gender neutral, unisex or family restrooms.
The film made the point that desegregation creates more toilets available for use.
“I think girls would be all for this. I wouldn’t have to wait in line anymore,” said Allison Sokolowski, secondary education freshman.
Because of transgendered people being uncommon in society, it has led police in some states to deny them bathroom access although their presence was legal in the restrooms they chose to use.
In Michigan, it is legal to segregate bathrooms into male or female. While there is no law restricting its usage, the use of the “wrong” restroom can be considered disturbing the peace.
Some argue this creates safety risks.
Gender neutral bathrooms showcased in the film have had no reported incidents at the time of production.
While the program’s intention wasn’t to encourage all bathrooms to become desegregated, its hope was to inform others of the difficulties others may face on something often taken for granted.
It is not required for public places to have unisex bathrooms, but the University has desegregated bathrooms in such areas as the residence halls to create more bathrooms for others and foster a comfortable environment for transgenders.
Most buildings on campus have single-stalled unisex restrooms available for public usage.
However, buildings such as Arbury and Wickes do not have such restrooms.
Little offered a perspective to those disturbed by the idea of sharing a restroom with another gender.
“What about Porta-Potties? We don’t care if a guy just came out of there. We just use it,” Little said.