The "great restroom debate" is a hot-button issue these days in schools, businesses and other public places across the country. In short, this debate centers around whether or not transgender individuals should be able to use the restroom of the gender with which they identify. Supporters say that it is discrimination to force them to use the restroom for their gender assigned at birth when that is not how they view themselves. On the other side of the aisle, critics worry that it could make the gender-normative people using the restroom feel uncomfortable.
Architects, however, are beginning to look at the debate from an entirely different angle; rather than seeing this as a social and cultural issue, they are looking at it as more of a spatial design and architectural problem. According to Jan Brimmeier, president/owner at Architectural Innovations, "Over time transgender will become a new norm for society and will become socially acceptable."
She compares this issue to the days when disability access was uncommon. When regulations came in that required it, architects had to reevaluate how they designed public buildings. Today, it goes without saying that all public buildings have disability access. Ms. Brimmeier predicts that transgender restrooms will follow the same pattern. In the future, it will have become so acceptable that people won't even give it a second thought.
Rather than having two separate restrooms for men and women, gender-neutral restrooms would eliminate the debate over which restroom transgender people can use. The main difference from what we commonly see in public restrooms today is that each stall would be fully enclosed, offering the occupant complete privacy. These restrooms provide the highest security possible for students in educational facilities, and also allows teachers to eliminate potential threats by observing all activities around the restrooms. The only place where men, women and transgender individuals would be in the same place is when they are washing their hands. By sectioning off the more private aspects of using a public restroom, there would no longer be a need to segregate the genders.
Obstacles to Progress
Currently, it is the building code that requires restrooms to be separated. It will, of course, take effort on the part of voters and politicians to amend the building codes to allow for this new style of restroom to become commonplace. As our society grows and changes, it is likely that this will occur eventually, although it will probably take some time as conservatives warm up to the idea. Just because this is the way that things have always been doesn't mean that it's the way they always will be done.
Looking to the Future
Here at Architectural Innovations, Jan Brimmeier, president/owner and our team are committed to helping businesses and other public organizations bring their buildings into the modern age. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our architectural design services.