There have been many waves of panic and resistance to new people moving into the public sphere and needing accommodation. And a focus of that panic has often been… public bathrooms. The debate about trans bathroom access became a big national story a little over five years ago after the passage of ordinances in cities like Charlotte, North Carolina, and Houston, TX, which attempted to restrict which bathrooms trans people could or couldn’t use. Many transgender, non-binary, and intersex people risk stress and sometimes physical danger when entering bathrooms that are segregated by sex. But a group of people have devised a design solution that may make bathrooms better for everyone.
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see the Ellen is Rapporteur in a writer they live in.
State Newark and they often go into New York City to run errands NGO two meetings,
and when they're out and about finding inaccessible bathroom can be a challenge. Our cell
on a university canvas in New York City, and there is a women's room and amends room and then a guy summaries sort of waiting.
And you know, figure what I was gonna do. This is
Recording I made a few months back when I was in New York City, not assuming this was before covert, and I kept an audio diary of my bathroom search. He said to me
its multiple referring to the men's room. They just exit, I think ass. He thought I was waiting
to enter this hurry, bathroom forgone text
she is non binary entrance gender in terms of looking quoting quote mail or quotas.
Female island somewhere in between some strangers
ah me, Sir others call me MA am, and so public restrooms always present. This dilemma,
in women's rooms. People look at me we're at or say mean things, but I'm often too afraid to go into men's rooms, I'm sure
and I have this voice, and I worry that those traits could make me a target
you can feel risky and exhausting to navigate these too bad options.
New York City somewhere,
I did in time
bathroom earlier and it's ours
this created at all, so I'm just older
more hours, array this particular day in New York. I went the whole day without finding a bathroom I could use and
then out and about all day I haven't used the bathroom and all because I couldn't find one. My couldn't find one
where I had a meeting earlier, and I couldn't find one that my dentists office,
for many trans and non binary and intersects people. This is the norm really for anyone who doesn't conform to gender stereotypes
some choose to risk the stress and sometimes physical danger that can come with entering bathrooms, their segregated by sacks other.
Choose not to. Instead, we hold it
Women's wrongs, men's rooms, but there was no gender
troll option at all, it's hard to overstate. The effect
This has had on my ability to exist in the world. I stopped going to the gym. I hate to travel because my local airport doesn't have any bathrooms. That work for me,
Every trip out to a restaurant or a feeder really anywhere is lace.
This underlying feeling of anxiety over many decades
This kind of bathroom related anxiety has been a reality for lots of different kinds of people, not just trans people
as ever since their invention, public bathrooms have been these sites of conflict about whose include
in public life and whose excluded before widespread indoor plumbing public restrooms didn't really exist. Instead, people used the privy, which was basically just a hole in the ground sometime
with a little outhouse style building by and privies we're not segregated by sex, nor were they segregated by class. The outdoor privy was you.
Is by rich and poor alike across the United States. That's Terry Coggan, a professor of law at the University of Utah. He is basically the expert about the history of sex, segregated bathrooms. In the U S and he says that it wasn't until the MID eighteen hundred
it's that indoor restrooms started to become a thing beginning in the lady team, forties and a fifties. Cities began, develop
Being municipal works, waterworks
Seward systems that actually could come
they endure water closets. So once that came about the outdoor privy was replaced by
your water closets at first. It was only the very wealthy who could afford this latest in plumbing technology. Having about
inside your house, was a
luxury, but gradually
underwater. Closets became more widespread and as they moved into the public realm, they entered a world that was at the time shaped by this very popular idea, which was called the separate spheres ideology and that you yield
He basically said that women should remain in the home
and men's. Appropriate realm is in public in politics are working in factories whatever, and this vision,
very, very powerful. Allowing women into the public sphere was thought to be risky because, given their weakness, they could become contaminated.
By the file influence of men
I am also worried about being contaminated by the violence of men yeah. I got it, but what you have
understand is back then the idea
I've been about literal contamination. It was then considered consensus among scientists who were basically all men.
That women were weak and vulnerable and susceptible to disease, but women
of course, were not weak, nor were they actually confined to the home by the early nineteenth century, more women than ever were working and getting involved in politics. So one is faced in the first part of the nineteenth century, with this tension that
the cultural, idiotic said women should be in the home, and the reality was that
Women were leaving their home in ever increasing numbers
and american building designers had to find a way to navigate this tension. They had to figure out how to create public spaces that both accommodated women, but still kept
That's roofs of women being relegated to the home.
The solution they came up with was to segregate public space. They designed. Ladies,
only train cars and Ladys, only dining rooms and waiting rooms and these visas,
often decorated to look very domestic with the sort of sufferers and more pay.
Wherein drapery you'd, see in an upper middle class living room, and
thinking was that for those
ladys who dare to venture into this dangerous public world. These are protective spaces for them.
These living roomy looking women spaces became a fixture of public life across Amerika, and that meant that, when toilets, eventually moved inside to places like theatres and restaurants, they were also sacred
created by sacks gradually, as the nineteenth century went on. Society started to de segregate the sexes, but
as men and women started. Mixing more segregated
at room stuck around there, a vestige
This ideology that once insisted that men and women couldn't share a public space at all and one of the reasons that segregated bathrooms have
moved so enduring is that these separate facilities were actually codified into law. The first law
sore passed in the eighteen eighties and they had to do with women factory workers and how they needed a space where they could rest when their weak female bodies gave out with its vision of what
men as vulnerable beings who needed protection, but the history of public bathrooms isn't just about who,
seen as worthy of protection is also about who is
I've been many waves of panic and resistance to new people. Moving into the public sphere and meeting accommodation and a focus of that panel,
It has often been public bathrooms, so yeah I mean pretty much every decade there's been some controversy about people,
toilets. This is professor Susan striker she's written
many works, a groundbreaking book called transgender history and she says that for as long as we ve had public restrooms, we ve had battles about who belongs in them
and who doesn't and see things that we fight about bathrooms, partly because there, these very charged
basis. We have always taboos around waste and elimination and privacy and smell and very difficult for people to think rationally about something
since we just react at an emotional level- and professor striker says pick a moment and twentieth century american history
and chances are. There was some sort of freaked out about some group of marginalized people using the bathroom with the rise of more visible, gay and lesbian communities. In the years after World WAR Ii, there were, like you know, panics about gay male sex in public toilets are sense of gay men being predatory. You know straight men.
By the nineteen fifties and sixtys activists began challenging codes of racist segregation in the south. This included challenges not just racially segregated water, fountains lunch counters in buses
but to racially segregated bathrooms enough. You think back to any signs that you might have seen from the U no battle days of Jim
crow. It was not uncommon to see public toilets, labelled men, women, coloured with the rise of the feminist movement. You saw in the Sixtys and Seventys, particularly around efforts to pass the equal rights amendment that you had right. Wing people who were opposed to the equal
its members say about require unisex bathrooms. Already we go to the same bathrooms on aeroplanes in buses, or does it mean that with
equal rights amendment. If it is past that there will no longer be men and women on the doors, but us are we or whatever well by the eighties. You know you have the AIDS Christ
This is a disease first detected in the gay community that has now spread beyond that disease
there was another wave of panic around public toilets. You gonna get you gonna, get AIDS there
the eighty eight ensures access to public accommodation such as restaurants, hotels, shoppings,
Hunters and offices, the american citizens,
Nobody's act is passed in nineteen. Ninety and again there's a wave of oh, it's gonna be too expensive, and why do we had to accommodate those people?
which brings us to the bathroom related panic of today, which is about people like me,
the end, like professor striker, a moral panic around transport
The legal battle over which bathrooms transgender individuals can use in North Carolina is becoming more heated by the day. This too,
about Trans bathroom access became a big national story a little over five years ago.
You had ordinances and cities like Charlotte North Carolina in Houston, Texas, which attempted to restrict which bathrooms tradespeople could or couldn't use Terry Code.
Things. This surgeon, anti Trans bathroom activism, has something to do with the Supreme Court allowing for gay marriage and twenty fifteen. After that happened, all the can
derivative money and energy that had gone into that fight hard to find a new target, this
serve. It is energy coalesced around Trans people and
their desire to use the restroom that accords not with their birth sex but with their gender identity.
People on both sides of this debate claim that there on the side of safety, one side says: hey tradespeople deserve bathrooms where they can feel safe,
The other side says women should
The attacks in the bathroom by cross dressing men by as professor striker describes this notion of a predatory cross dressing. Man is a fiction that fear is completely phantasmagoric. Sake. Show me the police reports of cross dressed male sex predators in public toilets. It's like, I don't think you can find one. It's a fear. Is that a fact in reality? If you look at the numbers, it is trans people who are at greatest risk of being attacked in public restrooms. According to Professor Coggan, if you look at surveys of trans people,
the number is roughly: seventy percent have experienced either verbal or physical abuse among some populations, in particular black Trans women, the level of
views is much higher. I something
This fine, my friends who aren't queer really
don't seem to understand just how dangerous public restrooms can be for me how every time I want a p or wash my hands, I
but calculus about my likelihood of being endangered by some random person, I dont know a trans person who doesn't have a story or many about being harassed by a stranger like I was talking with sub child, whose an architect
in South Carolina and they told me this story about going to a swimming pool with their partner? After getting exercise, you went to go use the sauna because sought as our great but sad face too
upon, which was there was a locker room for women in a locker room for men. I was already cut apprehensive because on Trans Non Binary, so seven their partner picked the women's room, because that was for them the better of the two available options. I knew that I could probably come up against some friction, but I felt a responsibility to use this.
Where I felt like. I belonged more we're in the sauna for a little bit and this middle aged white woman enters and asked me to leave because she was seized the sauna, and I calmly told her that she is welcome to join and use the sauna with us. Then she could have left a half and brought back this male staff. Member who asked me to leave
if everyone watched as sub was escorted out of a locker room, it was humiliating
it was isolating. It was also for
IRAN's person and entirely ordinary experience like this kind of thing
happens to us all. The time and its generally, pretty horrible feeling of exclusion is trying to use the sauna. Its
most mundane stuff that we have to think twice about whether to swim.
Whether to use a changing room, even more
somebody like professor striker, whose lived out of the closet for decades. I
transitions surgically and socially back, and then the nineties. I still there
over my shoulder when I go in to the women's forum every single time, it's like
somebody going to notice something or they going to freak out. This is going to be a seen, a lot of us who are trans, going to call it the tax. You know it's part of the tax you get taxed
four walking around be entranced in the world and part of the Trans tax is like.
Ways being mindful of moving into those sex segregated spaces,
But even though we take it for granted that most public, restrooms or segregated by sex, they don't have to be this way.
The debates around Trans bathroom access began heating up. One architect began thinking about exactly that.
My name is a seller Joel Sanders, I'm an architect o with pride.
Space to New York culture say Joel, had long been interested in bathrooms. As a gay man during
the height of the AIDS epidemic. He remembered how public restrooms had become a flashpoint back. Then
and he was especially interested in the lack of attention. His fellow architects seem to pay to these spaces
I think for society. The bathroom is the ultimate sort of function must architecture it doesn't require design. It doesn't require creativity, but the reality is that bathroom design does matter, whether our
ex realize it or not when they design public bathrooms,
deciding whose included and whose excluded when it comes to fully
dissipating in public life, Joe figured if they put their minds to it, architects could re imagined bathrooms entirely, and so I picked up
from an I reached out to a colleague of Mine
many many years before named Susan Striker, what a coincidence Susan Jegu is as here. Let me go, get you now which has started talking and I we were damn. You now have long rambling phone calls with each other about it
in these call, Susan and Joel, started identifying all the ways that bathrooms sock. Do you
knocked term numbers were tradespeople.
But for pretty much everyone. I think that public toilets don't work well for most people. They could be
people who are breastfeeding people who might need to do medical care of some kind, like maybe they need to take their insular people with urinary tracked infections in the dad who's got the daughter he doesn't want to go into the bathroom by herself Muslims.
Who perform bathroom evolutions. There is also the problem of unequal bathroom light, but you gotta,
theater and an intermission,
huge lines of women waiting in smaller if no lines in the men's room, the builders term for this is overload. Then there are the problem.
Lungs, many people with physical disabilities have, with public restrooms Joel Sanders was introduced by a mutual friend took one l Arroyo. He used
the wheelchair and used to advise the New York City Department of Transportation. About accessibility he met up with joy for dinner was an instant love,
I mean we spoke for hours canal, detailed all these horrible experiences he'd had with public bathrooms like when he was at an airport,
and had to search everywhere for a stall that was big enough to fit, is chair inside and in the end he couldn't
I ended up having to use a star and leave the door open behind me, because I literally cutting
the door behind me and
There are the horrors of public restroom sink design. I spoke about
how pissed off I'd get when I'd use a sink and because you would
flat. Topped syrup is the water would trip down onto my pants for analyses all this bad design as
failure of imagination. So many of these quotas
accessible bathrooms, still don't get it
They didn't get it because you being designed by people who don't understand, accessibility and so Joel Sanders kept imagining what an actually inclusive public bathroom might be like he kept talking to Susan.
Strike her on the phone and the two began meeting up and then collaborated on an academic paper, and
and to make a long story short. We receive
so much interest in the design, community and really, and the general public that we found
installed but stalled
an exclamation point, as in the bathroom
but also how this whole bathroom debate is totally stalled out. The stalled project would tackle not me
the problem of trains, bathroom access, but totally wrong.
Conceive of the bathroom so that it works way better for way more kinds of people. Let's
enjoy quickly hit a big snare. The code right now for public buildings over a certain size,
the building code mandates that you must build what are termed separate facilities, meaning a women's room and amends room. We could
mobile design solutions, but unless there legally implemented or through building codes and laws,
public policies. They're not gonna happen, so they called up the country's foremost finger on laws about bath.
They needed someone who, in a sense, could deal with
The legal issues Terry Cargan was thrilled when he got this call
He told me Joel and Susan were actually two of his intellectual heroes, and so he jumped at the chance to join the project and then Joel
I've been to meet Sab. I was introduced to draw after the lecture by a friend who knew him subways graduating from the architecture program at Columbia and Sub joined the project to, as did,
mt. I believe that people want to be invited to participate in these people are coming in
like the adventures of include
bathroom design, it's the adventures, but more queer and about bathrooms.
And so the stall dean at last
the got to work.
Fighting their arch, nemesis sex, segregated bathrooms. Terry and his colleagues began spearheading illegal appeal to change the code and the Ark.
Tax got to work totally re envisioning designs for certain public bathrooms, like ones for elementary schools and ones for airports. Why airports?
because it seems to be a place where there is a high cost.
Today of diverse
spot is spending
I have time and also having to address their embodied needs in
We re imagining the airport bathroom. The first thing the stalled team did was get
the idea that the bathroom is a room with a door. Instead, the airport
bathroom is now conceptually an extension of the public space like a big lounge. They space
is then divided into three activities zones so activities. Our number one is grooming and their proposing a counter, but not sure
the counter at the height of a standard able bodied adult, but one that undulates at different levels with mirrors also of varying heights, and it would allow people of different heights and abilities to group together. Public
these activities own number two is handwashing.
Doing away with that traditional countertop that court,
Arroyo and other wheelchair users hate so much. Instead, it
individual sinks stalled, proposes a water wall with
splash plain that's angled slightly away from the user. It would
at one standard height, but would be at multiple heights again to accommodate children, elderly different body heights and
it's the water itself would be recycled to water plants, which would help bring a sense of calm to the space.
There's two activities zone number three, a kind of continuous swallowed differently, size stalls and again its key.
To be a different sizes, some would be standard. Others would be larger fur.
With mobility issues, people in wheelchairs and the stock,
else would ideally be totally floor to ceiling to provide maximum privacy. The sole both.
These include other details that would make them more welcoming for all kinds of people like foot washing stations for muslim people and for materials that make the space easier for people with vision impediments to navigate. All of this is more inclusive.
And it's also safer because instead of
in divided into two or sometimes three groups: men, women and disabled. In this region,
agent bathroom all people can mom
inter a single common space, one quickly sees that these are open spaces which provide innocence, doubled the eyes on the street. So these bathroom adventurers had defeat.
It. One foe the idea that public bathrooms could only ever be sex segregated, but that left one more front in this war. The legal won the battle between Terry Coggan
and the body that governs the building code, virtually every state and munitions
power tee in America and in many foreign countries is governed by
a model code called the International building code, the internet,
No building, toad or ABC is governed.
A group of builders, architects, city planners, another design, experts who, together
decisions that hopefully keep the public safe rules about stuff like light switches and pain, rails
this group gets together every three years to agree to changes to the code, to account for technology
call innovations and building innovations, whatever Terry and the other lawyers involved, with the effort appealed to change the line of code requiring separate facilities. Terry,
hold me. There are some very practical builders arguments that you can make in favour of inclusive design. You don't necessarily need to appeal to people's sense of equality.
And all gender maltese restroom is in
much more efficient use of space. Then sex separated restrooms, they prepared their arguments for the committee in the lead up
The big meeting about amending the code in the fall of twenty eighteen there
came a long wait until the decision finally became public this spring and
and that in the next two duration of a code, the Maltese retired
we champion we'll be code compliant meaning in the very dry language of code compliance they one. So
darting soon. Architects and builders will have greater freedom to choose this kind of bathroom. They won't be required to build sex segregated bathrooms anymore.
This development is a major step towards having more inclusive bathrooms in the world, but with
I'm copycats like first off it'll. Take some time
I am for that new code to actually be adopted by local governments and governing bodies.
A city and state levels could also purposefully choose to ignore this particular update. Now they don't have to adopt it hook, line sinker, so they conceivably could choose to leave out this
exception. So there is a chance that this single line of the building code could become a flashpoint, a new front in the culture wars, because,
Hope is that people will look at these redesigned realised this just makes so much more sense for every body like
I want this bathroom totally. It makes me think of something that Susan Striker said what I feel
who is so elegant about the stalled public toilet project, is that at some level adjust it doesn't matter like it doesn't matter what most people think about Trans people. It doesn't matter if you feel like you, should accommodate people with disabilities. It say by the design of the space. It just solves the problem
and like, of course, I'd love. If all people recognise that I am a full person deserving of rights and respect my
Dream is to be walking down some airport terminal and to stumble upon a molten user, inclusive restroom like the stalled one I picture
entering at seeing that mirror ferrying heights, that,
deleting countertop water wall, the plants,
I envision entering one of those single user stalls and locking it behind me. But you know four now I'll just take a bathroom, I can use.
Our aid grand central station review of all. There are no bathrooms
I also wanted to buy a sandwich on the train and realize
I won't be able to wash my hands first
so what's in Tehran and pretend that
That's like wash my hands. Ok, that's it!
After the break standing, I will discuss bathroom sign it and the
strangely simple, but often overlooked way that they could be designed,
for greater inclusive Eddie
If you heard are episode on frock tour, that's the Nazi, find. You know that France really matter, they send a message and if you ve ever spent time choosing a foreign for big project, the impact they have on the audience is probably not news to. You can be a really daunting task. I was curious, would square space had to say about fonts and so on which their blog and they have a lot of resources and tips about what works and what does it when it comes to design function? When you're, making your own squares pay site, they say quote type is a design element. Large ball text can help emphasise the information or action you want your visitors to take on a web page, but you don't want them to feel like your site is yelling at them. I definitely don't want you feel. Like my side, Mozilla you when you visit and looking for me square space has well designed templates. Where do you go so I dont make that mistake. Everything is optimal.
Right of the box even for mobile and their twenty four seven customers board makes it all pretty foolproof. So go ahead, find your favorite font play around. Try for yourself go to school, based on complex invisible for a free trial and when you're ready, launch Easy Africa invisible to save ten percent of your first purchase of a website or domain.
So, I'm back with writers and the island has any Hiram men
So there is another element to this whole idea of inclusive bathrooms, and it has to do with bathroom signs right. So if you picture a bathroom sign right now, what do you picture? Toys to figures there's up
between figure, there's addressed wearing figure and in, and that's that
an symbol and the woman symbol, but, unlike a really outdated stereotypes that it's like a picture of the concept of the binary gender, what that and you know, even the most
retrograde human alive today. Doesn't it
the shape women, which is wearing dresses like, even if you were just to buy into the gender binary where
dresses is not just like, like this hallmark of womanhood.
Anyway, so it's like gender in a nineteen fifty is totally totally, but it's something you know
I've. Seen so often- and I think that maybe my sensitivity to it is- is sort of diminished, because I kind of take it for granted that it is what it is right and that's cause it's pretty much everywhere. I like that
for some variations, but across the U S, and my experience at least pretty much everywhere- it's some play on men's women's. Ladies and gentlemen. You know
how girls and end users
These questions like it for moving towards more inclusive public restroom. So why not more inclusive public question time?
like what would they look like exactly and this
is actually something that the stalled team has thought about? How do we make a sign
that's genuinely inclusive, and so they started out by analyzing. The signs are already out there in one interesting thing they found is that after him, signage really varies by geography. Here said child again like in many european countries, the restroom sign it just says W C for water closet and that sufficient. We ve been doing research on restrooms in South Africa and in other countries where the sanitation system is not at the western standard and
a lot of those times. Signage is sometimes not even present. So I think it's important to remember that when we're talking about gender binary, signage, it's definitely culturally and geographically relative innocent
additionally notice, because where I live in the Bay area, you,
you see some signs that don't rely on the gender binary for sure yeah. That's true in some parts of the country, those liberal West Coast cities, especially you'll, see you know, places turning single
the user stalls into what are sometimes labelled. All gender restrooms or sometimes you'll see a sign that includes a male figure and a female one in a wheelchair may be accompanied by a phrase like gender neutral observer team doesn't think thus the ideal sign either because we're not really gender neutral. We don't want to neutralize gender because there are such rich expressions of
my daddy, and also, of course such as reinforces the gender binary by having a male and female figure, and also others and segregate the wheelchair user, which is kind of this non human character. Almost is not merely a few miles. This other category, almost like colored bathrooms, were colored, was its own category and so as they did, their research
what started to become clear to the stalled team was that wherever designers tend to rely on avatars human figures, it seems
the icon, will always fail to capture the complexity of humanity by implicitly leaving some folks out than general stalled does not advocate for using
those gendered human avatars in bathroom signage at all, and instead we advocate for inclusive restroom signage, to use fixtures of what is included in the restroom, which can be as simple as a toilet icon,
the huge revelation make the icon a toilet. It's really
If at the end of the day, if there's one piece of equipment that you expect to see in a public restroom that you really need it is a toilet. So why not just depict a symbol of that yeah. An perhaps you'd want that sign to include other fixtures
I'll, depending on the situation, becomes include other things like a baby, changing station or a sink icon. And I think this also makes the restroom more inclusive, not only by just saying clearly what is inside this room. You're about to enter.
But also to not prioritize certain languages over others, something that said points out is like this doesn't have to be some top down exercise where architects dictate to society. What signs should be like? I see plenty of Trans Inclusive cited.
John, the internet of like unicorns are aliens and saying whatever just wash your hands are clever ways to did out that you know whoever is included. I honestly celebrate that and I dont want to flattened the creativity of graphic design,
having this kind of you know, singular universal sign of a toilet that everyone has to use. You know, I think it's fine for smaller establishments to get creative with that as long as it's inclusive of everyone, but I think just ass a best practice. A fixture is better than you
A woman and address totally everything's gonna, be better than women and address. I do
kind of wonder about you that some
The really creative iconography could be a little flip
for some minutes, pre seriously, we have like them.
In symbol, the woman symbol and an alien symbol, as if people often is there
sir aliens rooms in absolutely and that
one thing we talked about, and I think it's all about exactly. Are you being inclusive and if you're making
man, woman, alien unicorn, your you know. Ultimately, its offensive hates awakening behaves like it has a lot to do with like taste and
people are choosing to. You know, I think, really take that advice of opting to depict what's inside this room rather than what sort of bodies are allowed
You use it there, but just like this is a really good moment to think about it as words sort of like entering public life, a new kind of from this period, a time of being
closed up in their own homes. It can be
We too have that kind of exploration right now, you're something I've been.
Thinking about is. This is actually maybe a a moment. First small business owners, for example, to think about how to make their bathrooms more inclusive interview
One of those listeners who's actually seen an interesting tinder, inclusive, bathroom sign. It take a picture of it and tweeted at us at nine and be out of work and we're going to be collecting some unique samples, and you know what how how
four approach. This design challenge will think someone
four dogmatist andean. Thanks. So much for the story. It's has been really illuminating and learn so much, and I really appreciate it. Thank you, Sir
Ellen is an author. Their book is called a kind of miraculous paradise, learn more
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Transcript generated on 2020-09-09.