Let’s Debunk the Myths About Philly’s Gender Neutral Bathroom Bill

Sorry, but you won't be able to do an Ally McBeal dance.

A scene from "Ally McBeal."

A scene from “Ally McBeal.”

Yesterday, City Council approved a measure that would require all single-stall restrooms in Philadelphia to be gender neutral. The bill was passed unanimously, and although there was much applause from both the trans and gender non-comforting communities (and their allies) about the measure, of course, not all comments were positive.

However, I’d argue that many of these perceptions are uninformed for a variety of reasons. Let’s debunk some of these concerns, and also talk about why this measure is great, even for those who aren’t trans and gender non-conforming.

This isn’t turning into an Ally McBeal bathroom situation. As you may recall from the popular sitcom, the employees in Ally’s office all used the same restroom with multiple stalls. That’s not what is happening here. The bill only applies to single-stall public restrooms. Sorry, but you won’t be able to do an Ally McBeal unisex bathroom dance.

You’re already using gender neutral restrooms. If you think this is a really strange concept, it really isn’t. Have you used the bathroom at a Starbucks location over the last year? They’re all gender neutral and single-stall. As a matter of fact, I’d be willing to wager that most public restrooms in retail and restaurant locations are already gender neutral and single-stall.

This has really great benefits for those who aren’t trans or gender non-conforming. How many of you have had to wait endlessly to tinkle when your “gendered” bathroom was taken by another person? Now, if there’s two single-stall restrooms, you won’t have to wait. This measure is also excellent for parents with young children who may need help going to the bathroom or who may need a diaper change. There’s no more awkward tap-dancing around which bathroom to select.

It helps business owners. As clearly put by several advocates of the gender neutral bathroom bill, it will stop store and restaurant employees from trying to awkwardly police a person’s gender. That, my friends, is worth a little Ally McBeal bathroom dance.