I am not particularly in opposition to or enthusiastic about the current transgender movement. On one hand, I have no problem with people managing their lives however they wish. I met Dr. Renee Richards in 1982, for example (she was coaching a Princeton tennis player I knew) and liked her. Deirdre Mccloskey is freaking brilliant, I wish I had met her. On the other hand, as with most social movements on the Left nowadays, mere tolerance and live-and-let-live acceptance is not enough -- the movement demands complete conformity, and mercilessly shames anyone even the least bit slow to discard 5000 years of social norms around gender. And the movement tends to descend into self-parody from time to time, such as demanding that tampons be provided to people who cannot possibly have a menstrual cycle.
Anyway, most of that is beside the point and is just background to an issue I was reminded of this weekend when I was visiting San Diego. As many of you know, my company operates public parks and campgrounds for the government. As such, we were largely subject to Obama-era orders that in Federally-owned bathrooms, people had to be allowed to use the bathroom that matched whichever gender they self-identified as (not necessarily the one matching their birth sex). Unlike in past rules, there was no requirement that the person had taken any surgical or hormonal steps to transition -- only a self-declaration was required.
I will have to admit that the most entertaining part of this new requirement was explaining modern gender theory to my employees and managers, who tend on average to be over 65-years-old and without a college degree. There were a lot of wide eyes and "wtf' expressions in the room. Their main concern seemed to be potentially allowing male sexual predators into the women's room. I explain to my employees that the extra risk here is trivial for a variety of reasons, but mainly because in practice this comes up vanishingly few times. There just are not that many transgender people in the world, and campground bathrooms have never been targets for a lot of sexual predation. Every single time I can remember our employees even being asked about our policy it turned out to be an activist testing us, probably to see if they could create grounds for a lawsuit.
From my experience, then, most public fears about transgender bathroom rules have turned out to be overblown. But, it turns out there is one issue that no one is talking about that could be a real, though not particularly serious, downside for women. Let me explain.
The one major change in the public bathroom world as a result of the transgender movement is the accelerating shift from having multi-stall female and male bathrooms to having single-stall, gender-neutral bathrooms. If bathrooms are all single-stall, then all the culture wars over gender and bathrooms are completely sidestepped. Every public bathroom I have seen a government agency build over the last 5 years has been of this new design, and our company's policy is only to build this sort of facility rather than the old two-sided male/female bathrooms. Here is an example from new construction at the children's pool in La Jolla:
OK, I am going to have to criticize one gender here but since I am going to criticize males, I will be OK. Men's bathroom habits are terrible -- we tend to pee all over the place. Even if the median guy is careful, the marginal guy is not and makes a total mess. We had this problem when my kids were young -- my wife would ask me to take our toddler daughter to the men's room with me and I would tell her that was impossible, that the men's toilets were likely awful. I can say from experience from cleaning over 1000 public bathrooms a day that men's rooms take way more cleaning than women's rooms.
So if one has these single stall bathrooms, they have to be cleaned a lot. On busy days, our staff cleans ours 4,5,6 or even more times a day. But there are many public agencies that apparently do not have the focus or resources to clean on this kind of frequency. The City of San Diego, or whoever cleans these bathrooms in La Jolla, clearly does not clean enough, because these bathrooms were disgusting. I did not really want to go in there and I could stand and do my business. My wife would never have gone in there.
So there you have it women -- something else to look forward to. That irritating long women's room line may become a thing of the past, but it could be replaced with much dirtier bathrooms.