Using the bathroom is one of the first things we learn as children. It's a necessary lesson before we start school, which is where many of us probably face our first public bathrooms. Implicit in this lesson, then, is choosing the "right" bathroom to go into. Boys in the one with a person wearing pants, girls in the one with a person wearing a skirt. Simple. Lesson learned.
But gender isn't as simple as those bathroom signs would like us to believe, and splitting public bathrooms into "boys" and "girls" leaves out a whole slew of people — and makes using the bathroom as a gender non-conforming person stressful and dangerous.
The Regent Theatre in New Zealand has taken it upon themselves to fix that mistake, at least in their own bathrooms.
The theatre posted a sign to their Facebook page on March 23, with the caption "New signage for our most accessible loo arrived today - we're pretty delighted with it!"
The sign shows the traditional "girls" symbol and the traditional "boys" symbol along with a symbol split down the middle with one half wearing pants and one half a skirt, a symbol of a person in a wheelchair, and an alien. Underneath all of these symbols, it says, "Whatever. Just please wash your hands."
Commenters on the post called the sign "refreshing" and several asked how they could get one for their own businesses.
And we're here for it, too. It's always great to see businesses standing up for the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming people. This sign clearly aims to point out how silly it is to be so concerned over who goes to the bathroom where.
Still, we'd be remiss not to mention that — as great as it is — this sign also kind of trivializes a serious problem.
Transgender and gender non-conforming people are not aliens. They're also not half women and half men. We understand the thinking behind this sign that pokes fun at people who worry about peeing in the same bathroom as a transgender person, but this might not be the best critique.
Gender-inclusive bathrooms are great, but the implication that people who are not either cisgender men or cisgender women fall under the category of "alien" might only add to the argument that they don't belong in "our bathrooms."
We suggest a simple, straight-forward sign that says, "All Genders," instead.