EDITORIAL: The Gender-Neutral

I had this dream once.

There were two bathroom doors, side by side, with the traditional “men” and “women” signs next to the doors-kind of like the ones on the first floor of Memorial Building. People accepted this and used the bathrooms according to whichever one society told them to use, and whichever one you used today, you would use all your life. If you had a penis you went in the men’s room because that’s the way it was. Otherwise you’d get arrested or slapped, or worse. You went in the room that they trained you to go in back in elementary school, and no one ever wondered if biological sex and social gender were really linked or not.

Soon someone came along and didn’t fit, who didn’t self-identify as male or female and didn’t care to express that way either, and did that cause trouble! The people who ran the bathroom, which were the UM administration in this dream, had to fix the situation before the media caught on, so they created another bathroom specifically for hir, who didn’t fit in either gender role. People were pretty happy for a while because they could pee without a fuss. But then others came along who identified as gender queer, transgender, transsexual, intersexed, queer, etc. People seem to have the most difficult time dealing with trans people or even just anybody when the idea of public exposure of genitalia crosses their minds. They had to make a special bathroom for all these individuals . . . you can see where this is going. Too many flushes at once and the bathroom overflowed.

Sex does not necessarily determine gender, and to remain with only a two-bathroom system in a town and University that seemingly preach diversity (which would include gender diversity) seems wrong. Why not build a gender-neutral or gender-free restroom in each building on campus? This would support (rather than inhibit) non-traditional gender self-identification and be rid of this system where you have to be a certain gender and use a certain bathroom because society tells you to do so. At the Creating Change conference this past weekend in Miami the bathroom signs were covered over with signs designating them as gender-neutral restrooms.Gender-neutral restrooms would be available to any person to use because they don’t discriminate on the basis of gender identity or expression. Men don’t need urinals anyways; the delightful way that they splash both your and others’ urine back on you is unsanitary and illogical-who pees against a wall anyways? Just lift the seat.

Right now the environment sends a message that you will fit into one of two boxes, that you will believe that sex and gender are inseparable and indistinguishable qualities, that deviance is unacceptable. Wouldn’t you agree that deviance is just a normal part of life?

November 14, 2003


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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published in print every Tuesday.