Think about … Bathroom privileges

I have one reason in mind when I go into a women’s public bathroom and it is typically the only reason that I enter one. You know exactly what I mean.

I have one reason in mind when I go into a women’s public bathroom and it is typically the only reason that I enter one. You know exactly what I mean.

Once there, I admit to surveying the area for general cleanliness and have on more than one occasion left the room when it failed my clean standard.

If a man were lurking in the room, I also would leave.

I am cautious and also leave when none of the stalls lock. Other than those criteria, I don’t think a lot about it or the other women using the same public restroom. It is after all a public restroom.

I enjoy sharing a soap dispenser with the child who is learning from Mom how to navigate a sink that may be at eye level and a towel dispenser that magically produces paper at the wave of a hand.

What normal child can resist the magic at least until Mom says stop?

I admit to being bathroom fixture challenged. It seems that none of these automated features are made by the same manufacturer.

After waving my hands under, over and around a towel dispenser and not getting a towel, I casually watch the women at the next sink or give into reading the instructions. I personally prefer the pressurized air that dries hands in an instant.

Managing water is a bit tricky especially when it turns out the faucet isn’t automated. I am usually informed by a knowing and I know smirking child who turns the water on.

Bathroom privileges

Since I am in health care and a nurse, I appreciate the advancements in bathroom fixture technology. One can actually get in and out of a public restroom without touching anything.

Avoiding contact is the first line of defense in controlling or preventing the spread of contagious disease.

In my view, these are the things we should be thinking about when we go into a public restroom — is it clean, is it safe and can we get in and out without being exposed to bad bugs?

Public bathrooms should be open to the public. The only restriction to bathroom privileges generally occurs in hospitals and other inpatient settings when the patient’s medical conditions requires complete bed rest or the patient has a communicable disease that could spread through shared bathroom use.

So what’s the big deal about restricting bathroom privileges?

Mistaken identity

I heartily support gender-based bathroom access or single stall unisex bathrooms. I cannot think of one woman in her right mind that wants to go into a men’s room dressed as an obvious female.

I have made the mistake of going into men’s rooms and never thought to stay when I noted the urinals that inhabit them.

Frankly, those urinals violate just about every rule of cleanliness and limiting spread of disease. Who actually thinks those little cakes work to control odor?

If you have any doubt, just go into a unisex portable toilet with a urinal and a hole and sit nose level with the urinal. I have no idea why both are necessary and think urinals should go the way of rotary phone dials.

I have no idea either why men sacrifice their privacy at a row of urinals, although I have seen movies in which important conversations have taken place in just such a setting. Really guys, you can talk while in side by side stalls if you can’t wait.

I think we could solve a lot of problems by eliminating urinals and having locked stalls.

The current problem getting attention today is certain societal angst over transgender persons wanting to use the public restroom that matches their gender identification.

We have to assume that those persons who have identified fully dress like the gender they will or have become.

Who is in the bathroom to survey others in order to determine their gender and just how will they do it?

Beats me; I haven’t got a clue and, moreover, have no interest in getting a clue.

Most people cite safety concerns. No doubt, a man who dresses like a woman may run into problems in a men’s bathroom which likely explains why they don’t want to go into one.

A man perverted enough to dress like a woman to get a peek is going to be disappointed and if he is really wacked up, he always can go in without pretense.

If it isn’t broken …

Men’s rooms, women’s rooms and unisex rooms seem to work; just what are we trying to fix? Bathroom business is a normal human activity. It should be a private experience for any person.

A person my husband and I knew fairly well as a man chose to become a woman. He, now she, had successfully lived his life as a man but turns out that it wasn’t real for him.

We were shocked and we didn’t know how to respond or act in his now her presence. It was weird in the way things are when you have never encountered them or considered that you ever would.

She wanted our immediate acceptance and, frankly, we couldn’t give that to her until we processed it, which we ultimately did.

What I did understand was that I had never seen this person so full of joy as when she talked about being a woman. She was telling me what I already knew but for her it was discovery and fulfillment of something true for her.

This was decades ago and she has lived successfully as a woman. We’ve lost touch for other reasons and I can only wonder what she must be thinking. I think about the terrible struggle she had in order to come to terms with her nature and take her place in our society being reduced to bathroom privileges.

Bathroom use is private and none of our business. Common sense should prevail and fear based on ignorance left at the bathroom door.



Bertha D. Cooper is retired from a 40-plus year career as a health care administrator focusing on the delivery system as a whole. She still does occasional consulting. She is a featured columnist at the Sequim Gazette. Reach her at