Gender-inclusive restroom signs fight for transgender citizens’ rights

| March 21, 2017

When you see this sign, what’s your first reaction?

All Gender Restroom Sign

This sign was inspired by a sign from Parsons The New School for Design.

Progressive? Hyper politically-correct? Radical? Polarizing? For the nearly one million people in the U.S. who identify as transgender, it can provide relief from the daily struggle they face just to use the restroom. This gender-inclusive sign promotes equal access to public restrooms, easing the discrimination that many transgender citizens face.

Consider a recent situation. Idaho transgender woman Ally Robledo was slapped with a trespassing citation for using a female public restroom. Robledo said she had gone through a gender reassignment surgery, but some were still uncomfortable with her presence. She maintains that using male restrooms led to feelings of embarrassment and harassment, saying that she sometimes even feared for her safety.  Robledo said, “I’m a female trapped in a man’s body…Getting the no trespassing order for a public restroom was really painful.” The sad truth is that transgender citizens are forced to navigate a minefield for a simple act that nearly everyone takes for granted.

Still, legislators have proposed bills that cause complications for transgender people. Arizona State Senator John Kavanagh proposed a bill that prohibited people from entering a “public restroom, bathroom, shower, bath, dressing room, or locker room” if the sex designation of that facility did not match their birth certificate. Kavanagh later amended the colloquially dubbed “Show Me Your Papers Before You Go Potty” bill to shield businesses from civil or criminal liability.  The suggested bill isn’t explicitly targeting transgender people, but it does make things more complex for people who want to use the bathroom best for them.

John Kavanagh

Arizona Senator John Kavanagh is a proponent of a bill that causes complications for transgender citizens.

The fight for transgender rights remains obscured; 3 in 10 Americans are still not sure what it means to be transgender. The Oxford dictionary defined a transgender person as, “a person whose identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender, but combines or moves in between.” Since the definition of a transgender person is indefinite, a sign should feature a broad representation of gender qualities.

MyDoorSign’s new signs, based on a Parsons student’s original designs and profiled on the famous Humans of New York website, are exceptionally inclusive, displaying multiple gender symbols to show equal restroom access.

Other kinds of gender-neutral signs can be found, but they’re not without problems. Many gender-neutral bathroom signs show a male, female, and a hybrid gender sign, which many argue merely creates a third gender and defies the concept of being ‘gender-neutral.’

Psychotherapist Dr. Jean Malpas, the Director of the Gender and Family Project for the Ackerman Institute for the Family in New York weighed in. He maintains that gender-neutral signs are not new concepts. “I noticed that ‘the Modern,’ the restaurant attached to the Museum of Modern Art, also had an all gender bathroom, and nobody, younger and older, male and female patrons, seemed to mind at all.”

Malpas says a sign with a third gender may be “stigmatizing” and “isolating,” missing the point of having a sign that neutralizes gender. “The point is that gender depends on one’s identity, and not on the sex they were born in or assigned at birth.”


Category: New Products, Restrooms

Comments (2)

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  1. Michy says:

    So just take the male and female one off, and leave only the part male/part female one, and the disabled notice one. That sort of includes all options, kinda of… I’m in a wheelchair–I laugh when I see this because the only one that is truly gender-neutral is the handicapped picture–who knows if the human being in the universal wheelchair symbol is male or female? All you know is that if you are in a wheelchair, the bathroom is accessible for you. So why do we really need the pictures? That would be for people who can’t read (or can’t read English/whatever language it’s written in), no? So the one picture, with both male and female ‘imagery’ to it, plus the words for those who can read, is enough and stays more ‘gender neutral’ than all three images.

  2. Bailey Todd says:

    Try holding in the simple things that you as a human normally do in the bathroom, All my life I suffered.
    Now even at 52 years old When I go to the public restrooms, sometimes they send in a cleaning crew to make sure I’m a female, My partner of 30 years is use to it. Just this last week a little girl said when she came in with her mom there’s a man in here,I would rather use a outhouse or stinky porta potty than go through what I go through every week of my life, I have so many stories there’s no way I can tell you the true way a person feels when they can’t do the most natural thing like going to the bathroom, going number two is out of the question, I also have use cups and cans in the back of my van. I have to work outside in the field once a week all over Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. My town I live in right in the heart of Southern California (Antelope Valley) wrote some nasty very ignorant comments on this issue, it just proved to me that I have to stay in the closet of bathroom horrors for the rest of my life.
    I’ve gotten kicked out of bathrooms, I tried using the Men’s Bathroom,I’ve used several devices that work in urinals but after a few leaks and smelling like urine all day,I just decided that the easier way to use the restroom was just not make eye contact, wash my hands and get out of the womans bathroom so fast you never saw anyone go that fast. I actually carry a quarter on me every Thursday when we leave the house so if it’s a pay toliet I’m ready. You should see the faces of the clerks and gas station attendants when I have to ask for a key. Or at Mcdonalds or Burger King that has buzz you in, OMG I could go on forever. Once a Man manager walked in a two stall bathroom and told my partner and me that only one person was allowed in the the bathroom at a time even though there were two stalls. I never realized I was a Transgender, I just thought I was Gay, But I get it, I just don’t know what to do now. At the Super Bowl with The Chicago Bears and Indiana Colts in Miami, I got Kicked out of the Bathroom by Security, At the Theater I got asked to leave by security, I was kicked out of a a bathroom in Chicago by a waitress, At Midway airport in the Bathrooms by the Southwest Airlines upstairs not even in the gate area I was escorted out after the Lady Security knocked on my door freaking out and banging on my door, all I was doing was urinating, and I’m talking Fast Peeing, Pushing till it hurt. At LAX I was asked to vacate the womans bathroom by a parent who was changing a baby on the nasty changing table. Beleive me I walked so far, like blocks in the Staples Center at hockey games, and concerts just to use the restroom. I stood in long lines at Soldier field in Chicago in the female bathroom, when I got booted out by stares, from a bunch of women, like I had leprosy, I used the dark porta pottys on the second level, I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face, so after I peed all over my feet and my pants were soaked, I put my coat around tied around my waist and not only did I freeze the rest of the game I smelled like a 3 year old who had a mistake.I did not choose to be in this predicament, would You? Who would? I thought about ending it a few times, Even at dodger stadium I had problems during a Joel Osteen christian Revival. At any sporting event I time my bathroom breaks before half time, and I always find the Handicap bathrooms that are single bathrooms. At Burbank airport the Bathrooms on the outside of the mens and womens that are handicap I love and I thank God that I can be a normal person and have a few minutes of time until security knocks because the have a wheelchair bound chair person waiting.In Vegas where anything goes
    don’t believe it, and Palm Springs casinos, I sit and play games near the restrooms so I can whip in and whip out so fast that they can’t kick me out, I could go on forever, hey I have had issues unreal to people take in stride, OMG my schoolyears sucked so bad, I made up stories like I have my period just to not take showers, My seventh grade teacher did not buy it and stood in front of me about 5 feet away and decided to watch me shower, Pamela Law you Freak, What kind of teacher were you? To think all these years later like forty years these Teachers still teaching your kids, HOW SAD. Please let kids go the bathroom and use facility’s like everyone else, and guess what, till this day there are no transgenders who are pedifiles , Please people start teaching tolerance,and make stalls for everyone to use. I don’t want any special treatment,I just want to use the bathroom like everyone else when nature calls.