Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bathroom Symbols

Well, since we last looked at some symbols for intersex in general, I thought it might be fitting to look at some bathroom door symbols.

Ah, the fucking bathroom. Something that many people who are intersex, broadly trans-spectrum, and those that don't conform to sex and gender binaries absolutely loathe.

We all know how problematic those classic Western bathroom symbols are. Here they are below in case you're 1) not familiar with the symbols I'm referring to, or 2) you want to be reminded at how much you like to seethe at these crap images:

Yes, of course, not all people identify as "male" or "female" in terms of sex or gender. And, of course, individuals' presentation can't be parsed out based on whether that person's wearing a skirt or not. I'm biolgically intersex, and happen to be in a minority of intersex individuals that identify their sex as "intersex," and not either male or female. I'm also genderqueer, and sometimes identify as female and sometimes as gender-neutral or genderless. Right now, I mostly dress pretty femmey, but want to play around with presentation and performance, too.

But what I really want to draw attention to is a post a while back by Ann Friedman, from Feministing. This post features lots of different kinds of bathroom symbols, and how they're totally transphobic. (As well as how they might otherwise be interpreted, with Friedman's hilarious commentary.) I think that the conversation around these different kinds of bathroom symbols can be extended, however, to include how they might affect people who are intersex, or generally fall outside the lines of the sex-and-gender binary.

Check it out. What do you think?

P.S. If there were more gender-neutral bathrooms - i.e., those that didn't have these non-inclusive symbols on the door - many people that are trans, intersex, or sex-and-gender "variant" wouldn't have problems just trying to pee or poo. Additionally, we wouldn't have to risk either verbal or physical harrassment (including death) when choosing to use gendered bathrooms, or risk bladder infections and other health problems from holding in our wastes when choosing NOT to use gendered bathrooms. Just sayin'.

Hugs and thanks to Feministing!

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