Sunday, December 8, 2013

Judah- reflection #2

Our last class discussion really got me thinking on the issue of human decency and respect, especially here in New York City. It was really interesting and sad to hear some of the struggles that the trans gender community face, especially the embarrassment and struggle that can occur from a trip to use the bathroom. Its bad enough in the city now to find a public bathroom regardless , it must be even more  difficult out side of school to find, or use a bathroom. 
I think with the new mayor there should be some sort of plan to create a more sensitive and safe environment for ALL New Yorkers to have the decency of using the bathroom with respect and in peace.
Does anyone have some sort of ideas of how or where around the city this can be done? 
It was really nice seeing how respectful and kind the class conversations flowed last class, was really inspiring. 

1 comment:

  1. On the first floor of the Thomas Hunter building, there’s a bathroom behind the stairway to the left of the Public Safety desk. There are various things scribbled on the door to the effect of, “no men allowed in here.”

    The bathroom doesn’t contain any urinals, and I’m pretty sure that the door has a sign on it that says “Women.” But why the scribbles on the door emphasizing this fact? I wonder if it came out of a concern for women’s safety (e.g. protecting themselves against potential sexual assault), or if this action was informed by something deeper than that.

    Single-gender bathrooms are where our society’s strong commitment to the gender binary is most apparent. “Men” or “Women” -- absent a non-gendered choice, you are forced to pick one, even if your identity doesn’t lean strongly in either direction.

    To answer your question, Judah, I don’t think that anything meaningful can be accomplished right now in terms of creating more unisex public bathrooms throughout the city, even under this new mayor. Like you point out, it’s already extremely difficult to find a public restroom in this city that’s available to everyone, at all hours. One time that I did find and try to use a public bathroom, the line for the women's room was insanely long and the men’s bathroom had no line (which is usually the case). I tried to go into the men’s room, and a woman standing on line physically pulled me back to prevent me from going in, and angrily chided me for trying. I decided not to argue with her because in that case, it wasn’t about my gender--I wanted to go into the men’s room so I wouldn’t have to wait on line. But what if I had identified as male at the time?

    Even if the new administration made a concerted effort to increase the amount of public unisex bathrooms, I feel like they’d face considerable backlash from many city residents for committing taxpayer dollars to such a project. New York has laws prohibiting discrimination against transgender workers. But bathrooms seem like the last frontier. They are already such gendered spaces, and I feel like most people agree with having them this way. For a lot of people, it’s one thing to transition from one sex or gender to another, because that still allows the individual to be placed, in the minds of others, within the binary. But being someone who doesn’t recognize gender as a binary or even a spectrum is a different story.