Sex segregation in public restrooms

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Sex segregation in public restrooms is the concept of having separate bathroom facilities for male and female individuals.

Obsolete historical reasons[edit]

The segregation at one time had a purpose, a purpose that is now obsolete. At one time in the Western world, only male bathrooms existed because of the attitude that women should stay home. The introduction of female bathrooms was a means to allow women in the workplace but still have them "separate but equal".[1][2] Over time, women have increasingly gained more rights, making the original reason of urinary segregation appear moot. Despite this, conservatives typically want to maintain tradition even if said tradition's reason is no longer relevant.


From advocates[edit]

  1. To prevent harassment from men towards women.[note 1]
  2. Tradition.
  3. If restrooms were integrated, men would have to wait in long lines too.

From critics[edit]

  1. Separate restrooms introduce harassment towards transgender people because it brings contradictions and ambiguity to traditional, binary gender beliefs.[4]
  2. Separate bathrooms introduce unequal treatment towards male and female bathrooms. Biological women need to use the bathroom more to tend to their periods.[5] Urinals in male bathrooms consume more space[5] and accomplish one type of excretion, making it less effective than toilets in two ways.[note 2] This wasted space can be put to better use for women.

Bathroom Panic[edit]

Bathroom panic has a long history. In the mid 1970s, Phyllis Schlafly mobilised against the Equal Rights Amendment, using the argument that it would lead to unisex toilets, which would be dangerous for women.[6] Even back then, Judy Carter pointed out that unisex bathrooms had existed for centuries, especially on public transport, with few to no 'privacy' issues.

As a general rule, the main people harassed in bathrooms have been trans people[7] and cis women who are butch,[8] or androgynous,[9] or even just have short hair.[10]

This is despite the fact that right wing groups have admitted the bathroom issue is 'largely contrived'.[11]


  1. Although it could be argued that men have also harassed men in men's rooms. E.g., gay cruising in men's rooms, particularly back when homosexuality was illegal in most Western countries.[3]
  2. But urinals are generally more effective in conserving water usage.