I had lunch at the new Stellas restaurant on Pembina Highway yesterday. I used the gender neutral washroom and really didn’t think about the fact that it was gender neutral till I came out of my private stall and a man was washing his hands at the sink. Sure it seemed a little strange because it’s not something I’m used to. But I had no problem with it. It made me wonder how segregated bathrooms had started in the first place.
Apparently there never used to be public washrooms for women since they weren’t encouraged to ‘go out’ in the world of men. Their place was in the home. “How archaic,” we think now. So in the early 1900s when laws requiring public restrooms for both men and women came into effect it was really a step forward for women.
I suspect my great-grandchildren will read one day about gender specific bathrooms in public places and say, “How archaic!” Many newly constructed public places are installing gender neutral washrooms and as older buildings are renovated their owners are making the change too. Within a generation or two gender specific bathrooms will be a thing of the past. As we continue to learn more about the science and sociology of gender identity, gender neutral bathrooms make sense and besides they save space and are more practical for families with young children.