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GENDER SEGREGATION AND NON CONFORMITY IN PUBLIC RESTROOMS BY JAKE D. PAIVA A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Sociology New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Dr. Emily Fairchild Sarasota, Florida May, 2013
ii DEDICATION This thesis is dedicated to every person whose reaction to this thesis topic was one of understanding and not amusement. To everyone who has ever felt afraid to use a public restroom. T o everyone who has planned their day around where they will or will not be able to go about their business in peace. To everyone who has been harassed or assaulted just for being themselves. Stay gold. 08 Fall
iii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS First and foremost, I would like to thank Dr. Emily Fairchild for her invaluable guidance and input throughout the creation of this thesis. She has been supportive every step of the way, and I would never have been able to accomplish a project of this magnitude without her continuous hel p and endless patience. Her classes and tutorials have made my undergraduate experience exciting and have challenged me to learn and engage with concepts and texts in a meaningful way. I cannot express my appreciation and gratitude nearly enough. Thank you for everything you have taught me. I extend my utmost gratitude to Dr. Laura Hirshfield. Her interest in my thesis and willingness to work with me in its completion have been invaluable. There is little as encouraging as such genuine and express interest endlessly appreciative. Professor Hirshfield has helped me to wade through and gain a comprehensive understanding of classic and essential feminist theory, which is a significant and far from easy contribution to my academi c development. Thank you, Professor Hirshfield. Your support is endlessly appreciated. Thank you to my academic adviser, Dr. Sarah Hernandez Professor Hernandez has encouraged me to succeed and helped me to become confident in my academic abilities. Her c lasses have been challenging, and her teaching has allowed me to step up to those challenges. She has taught me not only course material, but how to actively engage in the learni ng process I would like to thank all of my professors thr oughout my time at New College: Dr. David Brain, Dr. Amy Reid, Dr. Richard Coe, Dr. Duff Cooper, Dr. Catherine Cottrell, Laine Forman, Dr. Sandra Gilchrist, Dr. Brendan Goff, Dr. Heidi Harley, Dr.
iv David Harvey, Dr. Kimberly Newsome, Dr. Imad Rahal, Dr. Dav id Rohrbacher, Jamie Samowitz, Monica Tambay, Dr. Jessica Williams, and Dr. Ellen Zitani. You have all helped to enrich my education and I have enjoyed learning from your instruction. Thank you to my fellow sociology thesis students: Brandon Berry, Lauren Brenzel, Jasmine Brenton, Hannah Brown, Mar Echevarria, Mia Newell, Varvara Suarez, Nina Venter, and Mariana Zapata. I appreciate all of your input throughout the thesis process. I have enjoyed your company in classes. You have all contributed to my colleg e education. Thank you so much. I would like to thank my family for all of their support emotionally and financially along the way. Mom, Dad, Josh, Grandma, and Grandpa: I love you all very much. You are the greatest family a kid could ask for. Thank y ou to my roommates, Brandon Berry and Keith Sommers, for putting up with me for the better part of the past four years and to all of my friends here at New College and back home. Thank you to Dr. Erin Robinson for helping me stick it out; I do not know whe re I would be without you. Thank you to Sam Armbruster for being the b est pal in this time of intense stress And thank you to all of my Trans*Swagger friends for being there for me, for sharing your experiences and helping me through mine. I appreciate ev erything that all of you have done for me. Thank you all very much.
v TABLE OF CONTENTS DEDICATION ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. II ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... III ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ VI INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 1 LITERATURE REVIEW ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................ 7 T HE G ENDER B INARY ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 7 D IFFERENT E FFECTS FOR D IFFERENT G RO UPS ................................ ................................ ............................... 10 G ENDER N ON C ONFORMITY IN P UBLIC R ESTROOMS ................................ ................................ ..................... 15 METHODOLOGY ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 20 P ROCEDURE ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................ 20 I NSTRUMENT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ .......................... 21 S AMPLE AND P OPULATION ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 23 L IMITATIONS ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ .......................... 24 A NALYSIS ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ 26 ANALYSIS ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 29 J USTIFICATIONS ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 30 SAFETY ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 30 PRIVACY ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 32 CLEANLINESS AND HYGIENE ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................ 33 DIFFERENT NEEDS ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 34 G ENDER N ON C ONFORMING E XPERIENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 35 R EACTIONS TO T RANSGRESSIONS ................................ ................................ ................................ ...................... 36 UNEXPECTED PERCEIVED SEX ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 37 UNCERTAIN PERCEIVED SEX ................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... 39 S UMMARY ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................... 41 DISCUSSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 43 G ENDERED V IOLENCE ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 43 O THERING OF W OMEN S N EEDS ................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... 46 G ENDER P OLICING AND B OUNDARY C ROSSING : T HE P ERSONAL AND P OLITICAL ................................ ..... 48 P RACTICAL I MPLICATIONS ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 53 CONCLUSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 55 APPENDIX A ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 57 APPENDIX B ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 60 REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 61
vi GENDER SEGREGATION AND NON CONFORMITY IN PUBLIC RESTROOMS Jake D. Paiva New College of Florida, 2013 ABSTRACT This thesis explores public opinions of sex segregated restrooms and reactions to gender non conforming individuals in these gendered spaces via open ended surveys distributed in downtown Sarasota, FL. The emerging arguments for sex segregated restrooms bring up seemingly practical concerns: safety, privacy, and cleanliness However, these concerns are raised in the context of necessitating gender separation by individuals who exist in a gendered society, and are thus indicative of a larger set of underlying societal attitudes and beliefs abou t sex and gender. These attitudes convey a conceptu alization of women as more vulnerable and needy than men, in terms of protection, quality of facilities, and environments, as well as a conceptualization of men as more self sufficient, but also more da nge rous and disorderly Though participants did not seem to mind the presence of individuals of unclear assigned sex, some expressed suspicion and discomfort with the presence of individuals whose perceived sex did not align with their gender presentation. Th is study demonstrates the powerful effect of institutionalized difference in shaping conceptualizations of sex and gender. Dr. Emily Fairchild Sociology
1 INTRODUCTION people to secure equality. Y ou have to weaken the -Rush Limbaugh, 2003 Public restrooms, along with locker rooms and prisons, are one of the few spaces that remain explicitly segregated by sex. This situates these facilities as a physical m anifestation of prevailing conceptions of sex and gender; they are concrete evidence of the perception of gender as a binary. This thesis endeavors to answer the question of how individuals conceptualize the sex segregation of public restrooms It will examine perceptions of this separat ion in order to glean a deeper understanding of underlying attitudes toward sex and gender in our society. Many scholars have explored public restrooms as settings of discrimination by class, race, physical abil ity, and sexual orientation (Molotch 1988; Edwards & McKie 1996; Anthony & Dufresne 2007; Plaskow 2008; Case 2010; Faktor 2011). One way that public restrooms serve to discriminate against certain groups is through sex segregation. Previous academic work h as traced the institutionalization of this arrangement in the United States to the nineteenth century (Kogan 2007). This separation was heavily influenced by ideas of the time about the appropriate societal role and place for women. the workforce increased, states began to legally require separate workplace toilet facilities for men and women. These laws were, from one perspective, indicative of progress with regard to female presence in the workforce and a desire to provide protectio n for female workers. This protection, however, was based on the idea
2 served to sustain some semblance of the separate spheres public and private that were threatene d by women moving from the private sphere of the household to the public sphere of work. Maintaining space in which to symbolically contain women allowed the idea of separate spheres to follow women into the workplace rather than be shattered by trance into the public sphere (Kogan 2007). The institutionalization of separate sex restrooms has led to what several scholars critique as effectively uneven availability of restrooms. Historically, the absence of etuated the exclusion of women from public space and public power. Even in the Capital Building in Washington, D.C., there were no woman recalls that she and other women had to tell the doorman when they left the floor to visit the restroom, which was so far away that the women were afraid of missing a vote female senators increased from two to s even (Plaskow 2008). This new access to public Much recent research into public restrooms revolves around the co women. Prior to 1975, pay toilets were a common fixture in public restrooms. This disproportionately affected women, as men could easily circumvent the tax by using March Fong Eu smashed a toilet bowl on the steps of the state capitol. This sparked the beginning potty parity legislation. New York State declared pay toilets discriminatory
3 toward women and outlawed them in 1975, and other states followed suit (Anthony and Dufresne 2007). Potty parity efforts have since shifted their focus, arguing that because men and women have different restroom needs, merely provi ding equal square footage and stalls does not provide equality of restroom accessibility. For example, because urinals take up less space, men have access to more opportunities to relieve themselves per square foot in the restroom. Women also tend to requi re more frequent as well as longer visits for reasons such as menstruation and appearance maintenance, such as hair and make up adjustments (Molotch 1988). Additionally, women still carry most of the responsibility for childcare and thus are more likely to need to bring a child to the restroom (Edwards & McKie 1996). For this multiplicity of reasons, proponents of potty parity argue that women necessitate more restroom space than they are currently allotted if restroom access is to be truly equal between me n and women. Though this feminist critique has looked into restroom equality through the lens of availability to cis 1 women as opposed to cis men, it has only begun relatively recently to acknowledge the concerns of g ender non normative individuals ( Halbe rstam 1998; Case 2000; Browne 2004; Faktor 2011) individuals are challenged in toilet spaces and their gender questioned or they are simply 337). Others since expand upon the visual and verbal scrutiny to which gender non conforming individuals are subject in 1 were assigned at birth.
4 public restrooms. Trans people face the risk of verbal harassment and physical assault in restrooms (Faktor 2011; GLAD 2013 ). One of the most well known incidents, most likely because it was caught on video by a bystander, i s the brutal beating of then 22 year old Martinez 2011). This type of v iolence affects not only individuals who are likely to be perceived incongruently from their gender, but also individuals who fit into neither binary individuals, such as intersex identified and genderqueer people, si mply have no viable option in public places that do not offer gender inclusive restrooms. This is a serious problem because lack of access to safe navigate public realm life opportunities, especially with regard to careers as it a ffects the workplace environment (Ems 2009; Taylor 2010). Analyzing the gender non normative experience in public restrooms helps to shed light on ongoing debates in gender theory. Scholars such as Lucal (1999) analyze their perpetuate rather than break down gender categories (Lorber 1994; Lorber 1996). A dditionally, t he athroom p to as gender non normative people are coded as abjec t, and thus, abjected from public space. Each of these will be explained in detail later.
5 I seek to better understand general attitudes and opinions toward the s ex s egregation in public restrooms via surveys asking individuals: whether or not they believe public restrooms shou what their reaction is to the idea of all restrooms being open for individuals of all genders, if they can think of any other restroom arrangements with which they would be comfortable and how they would feel and react to seeing two types of gender non The first type of gender non conformity participan The reasoning and rationale behind sex segregatio n of public restrooms will elucidate conceptualizations of sex and gender as they play out in semi public spaces. It may also shed light on perceptions of gender and sex in a larger societal context, including how transgressions and challenges to the binar y are perceived. Not only is it an opportunity to better understand popular conceptualizations and understandings of the gender binary, but it may also lend insight into how to protect vulnerable populations from severe harm in their everyday lives. If we understand the attitudes that construct public restrooms as a site of hostile and sometimes violent enforcement of the gender binary, we may better learn how to combat this dangerous phenomenon. As of yet, few solutions are agreed upon as viable to create a safe and equitable environment, for people of all genders, in public restrooms. One possibility is the
6 integration of multi user sex segregated restrooms into multi user mixed gender restrooms The conventional two room arrangement would be replaced in f avor of one larger room. This room would contain multiple stalls and would be open to individuals of all genders. Another possibility is the conversion of single user sex segregated restrooms into single user unisex restrooms. These enclosed rooms would fe ature a toilet and sink behind a locked door, for use by one individual at a time. It is also possible to leave gendered restrooms as they are and simply add a third restroom, either single or multi user, that is open to all genders. Restrooms could also be de gendered in categorization but retain separate aspects that are typically associated with men or women. That is, state what is in the restroom. For example, a sign ma By investigating what if anything makes separate sex restrooms favorable to some individuals, this study may help illuminate the barriers between current public restroom arrangements and safer alternatives This information can help to reconcile the varied interests of different individuals, ideally facilitating future discussions of improving public restroom arrangements. These improvements may, in turn, reduc e the dange r and fear gender non conforming individuals experience in public restrooms.
7 LITERATURE REVIEW Thus far, research has explored public restrooms for a variety of reasons. Academics have explored how different arrangements of public restrooms have historica lly affected different groups of people in different ways. Public restroom facilities, and lack thereof, have disadvantaged cis women particularly through exclusion from public spaces and institutions. The separation of people by sex has been found to ste m from a view of women as inherently weak and in need of protection, as seen in the emergence of separate restroom legislation and the Equal Rights Amendment debates of the 1970s. Scholars have more recently begun to look into how sex segregation of public restrooms excludes gender non normative people, restricting their access to public spaces and exposing them to hostility and threats of violence. This chapter will re view the existing literature regarding societal implications of public restroom arrangeme nts and explain the need to further investigate the reasoning behind restroom segregation. It will demonstrate how this understanding may illuminate more general views of the gender binary and help to consider alternative structures that are gender inclusi ve, which might create a safer environment for gender non normative individuals. The Gender Binary As one of the few explicitly sex segregated spaces remaining, sex separated restrooms are very indicative of how we as a society view sex gender as a whole. Gender is seen as a binary: two concrete, biologically determined categories. This binary view of gender dictates that an individual is either male or female, depending on their external genitalia. Males are said to have external genitalia, XY chromosomes, and higher
8 testosterone levels, and females to have internal genitalia, XX chromosomes, and lower testosterone levels. If an individual displays so called male physical traits, he is a man, and if an individual displays female physical traits, she is a wo man. Hence, there are two available restrooms: one for female assigned women, and the other for male assigned men. Feminist theorists have often problematized the idea of physical sex between sex and gender demonstrates that the body and gender identity need not always align. However, it is not without its problems. As Butler points out it is necessary to chromosomes, or hormones. These ostensibly natural facts of sex are in and of themselves produced discursively by scientific discourses; these discourses b eing themselves, of course, heavily influenced by political and social interests. Thus, even (1990) there may not be a distinction between sex and gender at all. However, through what Lacan des cribes as children are taught to believe not only that binary sex is a biological fact, but also that differences between these two sex categories is ubiquitous and inevitable. From the time children understand the meanings of the two the two restroom model conve ys the subtle message that there are two, and only two
9 sexes. This message, Kogan explains, is detrimental to mainstream understanding and acceptance of transsexual and intersexual people. Opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s demonstrates the connection between the physical separation of gendered restrooms and the ideological conceptualization of the gender binary. Phyllis Schlafly and other opponents alleged that the ERA would mandate unisex restrooms, framing this as an inherently negativ e consequence (de Hart 1991; Case 2010). They went so far as to refer to the ERA as the difference responsibility for providing a habitation and a livelihood for their wives and children to enable their wives to make the habitation homes, and to furnish nurture, care and training to These arguments against the prospect of multi gender restrooms are based explicitly on the view of gender as an immutable binary, a characteristic bestowed upon a person by birth that determines their role in societ y. Even after the bulk of the ERA debates, the binary view of gender continued to influence societal attitudes toward public restrooms. In 1977, Goffman argued that despite the progress of gender equality movements in the 1960s and 1970s, sex segregated to ilets would remain as a tool of perpetuation of sex difference. Goffman functioning of sex biologically a natur al consequence of the difference between the sex classes, when in fact it is rather a
10 the binary view of gender influence the arrangement of gendered restrooms, but the ge ndering of restrooms serves to perpetuate views of gender as a binary. Different Effects for Different Groups Gendered restroom arrangements disadvantage different groups of people in different ways. For one, restroom availability tends not to be equitable between men and women, given their frequently differe nt spatial and temporal needs. Historically, the non access from various spaces and institutions. In modern times, n o n binary restroom options often do not exist at all for folks who do not fit into either category. Through various methods, unequal and even non existent accessibility has been used to exclude women and gender non conforming individuals from public spaces and institutions. Some academics examine how public restroom arrangements serve to exclude women from various public spaces and institutions (Cooper and Oldenziel 1999; Greed 2010). Geographical studies demonstrate the importance of toilets to access to pu blic spaces (Cooper et al. 2000; Kitchin and Law 2001). The absence of a specifically female restroom has repeatedly been used as an excuse for severely discouraging or outright prohibiting women from entering various spaces, often workplaces and schools. A 2000 court proceeding depicted the sexual harassment one woman endure d as the only female lineman at an electric company. She explained being faced with the choice of urinating in the open or being ridiculed by her male co workers for seeking out nearby public restrooms (DeClue v. Central Illinois Light Co. 2000).
11 provide restroom accommodations for this female employee sends a rather clear message regarding how welcome women are in their workplace. In 1994, c adets at the all m ale Citadel pointed to the potential entrance of women into the bathrooms as their reasoning for wanting to keep women out of the institution ( Faludi 1994 ). Similarly, until 1996, the Virginia Military Institute cited its lack of son for refusing women admission to the school Its reasoning everyone is constantly subject to scrutiny by everybody the school would be forced to either sacrifice their commitment to constant scrutiny, or subject women to simila 518: 515; 528). Even Yale Medical School and Harvard Law School once argued against admitting female stu these exclusions, the absence of toilets reflects and perpetuates social inequality (Plaskow 2008). discrimin atory toward cis women, as it does not sufficiently accommodate their different needs in rest rooms. Molotch (1988) notes that appropriating equal square footage to men and women disadvantages women, as they biologically need more time and s pace in the res troom. Molotch claims that menstruation may cause women to need to use the restroom more frequently. Edwards and McKie (1996) also cite menstruation and add
12 that pregnancy may also cause women to urinate more frequently than their non pregnant counterparts They also point to research that finds women in general pregnant or otherwise, to take twice as long on average to urinate as men (Kira 1994). Edwards and McKie (1996) also describe social differences that may cause women to need more restroom time and space than men. They note that women are expected to sit down in enclosed cubicles to urinate and not given a space efficient option similar to a urinal. Additionally, becau s e women still tend to carry most of the burden of childcare, they must visit the restroom for the child ren as their own Furthermore, due to the cultural proscription against breast feeding in public, women may rely upon restrooms as safe spaces to nurse their infants. needs tend to exceed those of men, this line of scholarship criticizes the idea that restrooms divided equally by square footage and/or amount of stalls is equitable in practice. Even when there exists a necessarily Because of physical and social differences, t here is no clear measure of equalit y or way of ensuring it is met. As long as individuals are barred from certain rooms on the basis of their gender, there is no amount of toilet ratio adjustment that would guarantee equal opportunit ies to use restroom facilities. If there is no way, then, to ensure equal opportunity to separate facilities, we may surmise that the gender segregation of restrooms itself may serve to disadvantage women. T hat is, the very division of public space into two sex specific zones can sustain and even aggravate gender based inequalities. Though not often thought of as social spaces, restrooms are able to provide the opport unity for socialization and networking.
13 For example, 2004 Democratic Presidential Candidate John Kerry told Jon Stewart on the Daily Show that a surprising amount of people have tried to introduce themselves to (O'Neil 2004) Additio nally, several junior male lawyers report participating in restroom conversations with senior male partners that facilitated their assignment to major cases (Case 2010) These situations exemplify the role of homosocial spaces in perpetuating male dominanc e in the workplace. Similarly to the male clubs described by Lipman Blumen (1976), all male restrooms create a space that offers opportunities for career advancement and other personal gains for men only. le opportunities because there are more men at higher levels of power in the workplace than women, giving them greater opportunity for advantageous homosocial networking (Elliott and Smith 2004). As long as power is not equally held by people of all gender s, any space segregated by sex can be seen to reflect and perpetuate power dynamics. Many arguments for these arrangements reflect the view of women as inherently weak and in need of protection. These arguments point to safety concerns, specifically the ri sk of men sexually assaulting women ( Molotch 1988; Gershenson 2010 ). These even a violent criminal dare not disobey the label on the door. The very troubling implication of this is the expectation for men to be more respectful of the spatial boundaries of the gender binary than of the personal boundaries of other human beings. Other supporters of separate restrooms point to questions of hygiene, claiming that men are less tidy than women, and thus women, in their inherent vulnerability, should be protected from that decreased level of cleanliness.
14 a separate room. When asked ht to be individual stalls as se 2010:223). This belies a belief that women are a source of contamination to which men should not be exposed. However, rather than viewing this as a male preference to avoid certain consequences of female presence in restroom facilities it is portrayed as a female need for special accommodations. These patronizing views of women are used to justify the sex segregation of public restrooms and to further exclude women from full access to public spaces. A less patronizing rationale for separate sex restroom s is described by Case of female sociability. oppression of men using the rest room as a refuge from social conditions imposed by the t women in particular appreciate female specific spaces as a temporary respite from other that is, male dominated spaces Another interpretation, which does not preclude the former, is that individuals value the availability of homosocial spaces for the sake of that homosociality. They may take comfort in their placement, if they are an individual who fits easily into the binary.
15 Gender Non Conformity in Public Restrooms Though some individuals enjoy the availability of a homosocial space, this convenien ce comes at the expense of many others. Recently, scholars have begun to recognize the effects of sex segregation on not only cis women, but also gender non normative individuals. Similarly to how sex separation leads to the exclusion of women from certain spaces and opportunities, it deprives gender non conforming individuals of the opportunity for safe navigation of the public realm. Individuals who disturb the apparent naturalness of the man masculinity/woman femininity binary are prone to abusive commen ts, exclusions, and physical violence (Butler 1990; Namaste 1996; Halberstam 1998; Munt 2001). Through interviews with a variety of transgender, queer, gay, lesbian, and gender non conforming people in Canada and the US Cavanagh (2010) reports that partic ipants often feared and experienced violence in public restrooms; from beatings, harassment, police arrests, and the perception that they represent a danger to children, participants largely feel unsafe in public restrooms. These castigations exemplify how Doing gender is a process, and gender itself an achieved property to which individuals are held accountable. sex categories are subject to evalua tion and subsequent social consequences at any time. Individuals who do not do gender appropriately may be called into account for their character, motives, and predispositions. This creates an institutional imperative that serves to legitimate sex categor y based social arrangements (1987 ). Individuals who fail
16 to do gender in accordance with their perceived sex category face the ubiquitous threat of social repercussions for their transgressions. hroom problem the situation where women are perceived as men in public restrooms and subjected to hostile, sometimes violent, reactions. Browne draws on focus groups and interviews conducted with 28 non heterosexual women in the South of England, focusin g in on nine individuals who spoke about experiences of being mistaken for men in public restrooms. Their broadly as genderism : discriminatory experiences individuals face when perceived as the single sexed spa ce (Browne 2004 ). Genderism is the hostile reading of ambiguous bodies; it describes discrimination that coincides with discontinu ities between the sex/gender with which an individual identifies and the sex/gender to which others ascribe that individual. nine cisgender 2 women described various experiences of genderism in public restrooms, ranging from questi (Browne 2004: 337 339). One participant named Emma describes urinating in the parking lot at parties in sports clubs so as to avoid the abuse she may encounter if she 2 Accord ing to Browne (2004), the participants all identified as non heterosexual women and reported being frequently mistaken for men. Multiple participants reference their bodies in ways that make it safe to assume they are female assigned and most likely cisgen der.
17 were to use the restrooms inside. She says that she sometimes adjusts her clothing to make her breasts more visible to establish her f emaleness to strangers. Other participants reported simply avoiding public restrooms altogether; one drove for over two hours needing to use the restroom in order to avoid stopping. Emma offers another rele vant anecdote about when a group of women demande d [she] a man. In this instance, it seems that the other women in the stall were concern ed mainly with her anatomy, not gender presentation. However, another participant, Janet, reports being thrown out of a public restroom even when visibly wearing a sports bra, an explicit signifier of femaleness. Thus, it is clear that individuals are held accountable to both perceived sex and the appropriate gender presentation of that sex Sites, locales, regions, and nations are created by socio spatial relations and enactments. These relations are not simply different from place to place; performances, spatial relations, and interactions serve to produce (and reproduce) these places (Massey 1994; Hubbard et al. 2002). Thus, sexed bodies do not render a space sexed, nor does a sp ace sex the body; the place and bodies within that space mutually constitute and re constitute one another (Brown 2000). Much like gender, space is continually re created. Toilets, being explicitly divided by presumed biological differences between men and sexed categories in an ongoing process of accountability. Maintaining this sexed separation of restrooms reproduced the illusion of sex as a natural, biological, binary
18 charac teristic and physically (re)places bodies within these dichotomous categories (Browne 2004). Through enforcing gender boundaries in such mundane spaces such as public restrooms, sexed power relations structure every day life. This process of perpetual const itution and re constitution of public restrooms as gendered spaces mirrors the concept of gender performativity, that the phenomenon of gender is continually produced and reproduced over time. It is not an internal fact about a person but a process that es tablishes itself through consistent reiteration (Butler 1990). Restrooms can be s een to follow a similar process. Restrooms are not gendered simply by virtue of the signage on the door; rather, t hey are created and re created as gendered spaces in their ev eryday use as regulated by expectations of gender segregation. Individuals are held accountable to appropriate gender expectations. This accountability process demonstrates the active maintenance required to keep up the supposedly common sense distinction of sexed bodies. Because deviation has the potential to reveal what seems natural as, in fact, produced (Bell et al. 1994), gender non normative bodies pose a threat to the illusion of binary sex and gender as a natural condition. Breaches of gender expect ations in public restrooms may expose sexed bodies as constantly becoming that sex rather than statically (Browne 2004). disturbs identity, system, [and] order These very existence challenges the borders and rules of gender McClintock (1995) argues that cisgender individuals may impose their own gender identity insecurities onto those whom
19 they perceive as trans and/or queer, causing discomfort with gender non conformity in public restrooms. Thus, these bodies may be abject ed from publ ic space gender binarism permeates public interactions and severely restricts the ability of gender non conforming individuals to navigate public spaces. Hostile reactions towar d gender non normative people in restrooms imply disapproval of two binary violations: one, the that is presumed to exist only for those who fit clearly into the catego ry of male or female. Dividing restrooms into two gendered options upholds the mandate of binary gender expression. The specter of non gendered restrooms, then, threatens to erase these ars about sexual (Cooper and Oldenziel 1999:17). The reasoning behind binary sex segregation of public restrooms, as well as how people view gender non conformity in pub lic restrooms, is heavily influenced by and indicative of a belief in the gender binary itself. The question, then, begs more research as a vehicle through which to examine public beliefs regarding the gender binary. Because public restrooms remain as a ge nerally accepted physical manifestation of this restroom segregation, and transgressions of this arrangement, we may effectively observe and analyze their underlying idea s about gender and its function in our society.
20 METHODOLOGY This section outlines the research method I used to conduct this study. It includes information on the design appropriateness, procedure, instrument, sample, population, and limitations. Procedu re I conducted a cross sectional survey (see Appendix A for survey) to gather the data necessary to examine popular opinions and beliefs regarding public restrooms. Because the issue of restrooms may be embarrassing for some individuals to discuss in face to face conversation, I opted to use a written survey composed of open ended questions. This way, I was able to elicit opinions and explanations in a way that minimized participant discomfort. I distributed the survey in a public space. This allowed me to circumvent not only postal costs, but also the non response rate characteristic of mail administered surveys. Instead, I distributed the surveys with clipboards outside of a public library in downtown Sarasota, FL to all willing passersby over the age of 1 8. Approximately one third of the individuals I approached agreed to participate. I used three clipboards, so participants never formed a group larger than three. They completed the survey in the same general vicinity, but not so close as to expose their r esponses. They would then return the clipboards with their surveys at their own pace. This provided a low stress environment responses, and no participants seemed nerv ous, uncomfortable, or hurried.
21 Instrument The survey was one page long, front and back. It consisted of five open ended questions and most participants completed the survey in less than ten minutes. About 3 inches of blank space followed each question, a llowing for about a paragraph long The first input fields on the questionnaire are age and gender. Age is a pertinent factor in my study because I foresaw significant generational differences in attitud es toward gender relations in general. Considering that the location of the study Sarasota, FL is home to many elderly individuals, it was important to keep this in mind. I also asked for gender because gender is a salient factor in my study. Not only does an determines which restrooms they are most familiar with. This means that gender directly n imp ortant variable to consider in my survey. The first opinion question asks if the participant thinks that public restrooms should be divided into two rooms, one for men, and one for women. It then asks for the participant to explain why they feel that way. This is a relatively straight forward presentation of my research question. It sets up the general theme for the questionnaire and leads into further questions, which delve into more detail. ll restrooms (single or multi stall) be open for individuals of any gender to use. This probes at how the participant feels about alternate restroom arrangements. It is a concrete example of the blurring of the gender binary and a way to gauge individuals
22 It also helps to flesh out the response to the first question. Explaining why one is or is not comfortable with a gender inclusive set up sheds more light on the converse question of why one favors or does not favor a binar y set up. I then ask if the participant can think of any other arrangements for restrooms with which they would be comfortable. This allows for a more in depth responses. If inclusive restrooms, they may then expla in if and why they favor a slightly different arrangement quite possibly an alternate approach that is not often considered in the question of restroom design. Individuals may use this question to be more detailed in their restroom preferences. The next question prompts the participant for their reaction to seeing a gender non normative individual in the restroom. For example, how would a female participant restroom? This whether the participant is more concerned with the assigned sex or gender of others in their restroom of choice. Finally, I ask the participant how they might react to seeing an i ndividual of indeterminate sex in a gendered restroom. Similarly to the second question, it addresses the participant views individuals with non normative gender pre sentations, but how they These questions probe at a concrete situation which reflects a more theoretical view of the diversity and fluidity of gender. How participants react to no n normative
23 presences in and arrangements of gendered spaces helps to shed light on public opinion and attitudes toward the binary conceptualization of gender in modern society. Sample and Population My sample was relatively balanced with regard to gender. Of all 2 1 participants, 10 were male, 10 were female, and one identified as genderqueer/transmasculine. The ages of participants were less evenly distributed The median age of my sample was 51 years old. The youngest participant was 19 years old, and the oldest was 81. The standard deviation of the sample was 24. 4 This closely resembles the p opulation in Sarasota County, where the study was conducted The median age of Sarasota County is 50 years old with 31. 7% of the population over the age of 65 (U.S. Census 2011) However, Sarasota County differs in age distribution from the rest of the United States where the median age of the population is 37.1 years old (Cen tral Intelligence Agency 2013 ) A dditionally, s old or younger whereas my sample consisted only of adults age 18 and older My data may not be representative of the United States with regard to age, but the results will hopefully be applicable to individuals of different socioeconomic statuses, ethnic and racial backgrounds, genders, and sexualities. Though I used a convenience sample and thus could not purposely sample with these attributes in mind, I distributed these questionnaires in a public, well trafficked area in order to maximize the variety and size of my sample. To this end, I decided upon a public library in downtown Sarasota, FL. In order to accommodate adults of different work schedules, I gathered responses on a Tuesday from 1pm to 2:30 pm and Saturday from 10am to 12pm.
24 Participants were given an informed consent sheet prior to completin g the survey. I informed them that their participation was voluntary and that the subject matter might be of a personal nature. I also made clear to participants that they did not have to answer any questions with which they were uncomfortable, and that th ey could cease answering at any time. I did not collect any obvious identifiers of participants. The only personal information in the survey is age and gender; no names were collected. This way, the surveys were completely anonymous. My recruitment was sim ple and consistent. I respectfully greeted each individual I saw, except for children and individuals that made a pointed effort to avoid me. I said, anded the survey on a clipboard along with a pen or pencil to individuals who agreed to participate. Participants were surprisingly enthusiastic about the survey. Some even attempted to discuss their feelings verbally. I was ecstatic about their excitement but politely stated that it would be inappropriate for me to discuss the subject matter with them. Of course, many individuals whom I approached ignored me or politely declined, but my interactions with potential and actual participants were overall posi tive. Limitations My study design had a few limitations. For one, I had little control over the actual diversity of my sample. I was unable to actively control for different participant characteristics. The location was also somewhat limiting, as Sarasota, FL is not very representative of the larger United States population with regard to age, race, ethnicity, or
25 socio economic status Though I have no reason to believe attitudes t oward restrooms may vary with regard to these specific statuses it is still important to note the relatively narrow composition of my population. My study was also susceptible to volunteer bias. That is, I was only able to gather responses from individuals who were willing to take time out of their day to complete the survey. Also not all individuals would be comfortable completing a questionnaire about a subject as personal as restroom use. Some individuals who expressed interest in taking the survey retracted their offers upon hearing the subject matter. Additionally, participan ts were not necessarily completely honest in their responses. An individual may think they know how they would react to a hypothetical situation, but it is possible that their actions in the real life scenario would differ. It is easy to say one would not their predictions. Participants were also liable to distort their answers to conform to what they may hav e seen as socially desirable responses. An individual may claim to be accepting of certain differences but in reality harbor prejudices to which they will not admit. Thus, some respondents that claimed not to judge others for gender nonconformity may indee d feel disapproval of such individuals. I t would not be a useful exercise to doubt on this basis of course. I t is merely a factor to keep in mind when interpreting the data. Finally, participants did not all care to answer as thoro ughly as they may have. Though some participants offered long paragraphs for their responses, one individual
26 Can you think of any other arrangements [as opposed to one male and one female restroom] for restrooms that you would be comfortable with? with a mere squiggle. This response was noted and ignored when looking at proportions; that is, responses to that question were viewed as out of 20 respondents as opposed to 21. In spite of these limitations, I feel that my research design was appropriate and effective for the topic of interest. For the comfort of participants, gathering public opinion on a sensitive issue is best done in a confidential format. The questionnaire allowed me to minimize any pressure felt by participant s and allow them to disclose their opinions as honestly as possible It also allowed space for elucidation and reasoning for ended questionnaire was the best method for my research. Analysis Once I collec ages, genders, and simplified responses (see Appendix B) I classified their answers to the first question for wome ) old genderqueer/transmasculine person). This was categorized as bout
27 old male). These responses For the second question ( (single stall or multi stall) be open for I categorized responses as positive, negative, or neutral. Positive responses included phrases such as were considered negative Other responses, were recorded as neutral. ds to quantify the frequency of their mention. used to identify con and t For the third question, I compiled a list of the suggestions and scanned them for mentions of the keywords previously establish ed; this helped to bring out issues that were most important to participants. I then classified the responses for the last two questions react to seeing an individual they perceived as their opposite sex but presented a s their same sex, or an individual of indeterminate sex, respectively) into and/ or listed the reaction words used, w hich were
28 3 to leave Once I had an idea of the general trends in a simple numerical form, I delved into the responses thematically. I pulled out and compiled statements on safety, privacy, cleanliness, and gender non conformity in separate lists for each theme. This al lowed me author to compare responses of men, women, and non binary folks to see the differing priorities amongst those groups. I also labeled their ages, but age did not e merge as a significant variable. With the data organized thematically, I began to find trends in the responses 3 old female).
29 ANALYSIS Several themes emerged from the survey responses. The most common thread throu ghout the data was the mention of safety and privacy as justification for sex segregation of public restrooms Respondents viewed public restrooms as a space in which safety and privacy must constantly be monitored and maintained. Individuals emphasized is sues of security as a gendered phenomenon, many pointing toward the possibility and threat of sexual assault. Respondents also addressed having different needs and standards for restrooms according to gender and said that men and women visit restrooms for different reasons, and thus, necessitate different rooms. Participants supported the division of restrooms on the grounds of cleanliness and sanitation, describing restroom separation as a hygienic measure. Underlying each of these themes was the patriarch al idea that women are more vulnerable than men and in need of protection, from physical threats, invasion of privacy, and lack of cleanliness. Additionally, though participants seemed to overwhelmingly support the separation of restrooms by sex, the major ity also claimed they would not care if they saw an individual they perceived as a member of the opposite or indeterminate sex in the restroom. Only two participants said they would confront such an individual, and two other participants said they would re act, but not through confrontation. One said that she herself would leave, and the other would notify someone, presumably an authority figure, if she deemed the person in question suspicious. Aside from these, most participants said they would not care abo ut the presence of gender non normative individuals in the restroom. In general, participants seemed more likely to take issue with the presence of an individual of unexpected gender as opposed to an individual of indeterminate gender.
30 Justifications SAFE TY The most common issue raised throughout the responses was safety. Almost half of the participants mentioned safety in some capacity in their responses. One third of the respondents who argued in favor of separate sex restrooms cited safety as a reason f or this a rrangement. One participant (21 year women, and another claimed that sex year old female). Eve n one of the participants, a 67 year ol d male who did not fully support separate sex restrooms, said that he thought women would feel Respondents expressed the most concern for women. They year old male), and asserted t year old female). Two female participants (21 years old; 34 years old) explicitly mentioned the risk of sexual abuse or assault as their main concern about the prospect of gender integration of restrooms. The collective sentiment was that women needed protection from men. It is important to interrogate why it is that the bathroom is seen as a site of danger. There are a few factors to take into consideration. For one, crimes do occur in public r estrooms. There is a regrettable dearth of statistics about crime in restrooms, but news sources indicate that a significant amount of male on nd somewhat isolated. Ironically, this privacy may come at the price of safety, as it also means the rooms tend to be out of the way, where assault may go unnoticed. These types of restrooms fit very easily into the stranger rape narrative: the idea that s exual assault is
31 usually committed by mysterious, unknown individuals in remote areas, such as the Additionally, the restroom is a space in which individuals perform very personal actions that presumably lead to feelings of vulnerability. Restrooms are essentially the only places where individuals necessarily come in contact with their genitals, as they are used to perform the main function of the restroom: elimination. They are, despite the protection offered by the walls of stalls (and not even those if using a urinal), exposed in the most basic sense of the word. This kind of exposure can easily be seen to lead to feelings of being vulnerable and threatened. Additionally, designating a restroom as a sexed space may serve to perpetuate this fear The gendering of restrooms itself can be seen as a contributing factor to feelings of unsafety by creating this sexed dynamic in a room that does not in and of itself necessitate these undertones. As sexual assault is framed, for the most part, as a crime perpetrated by men against women, it would seem to be a fair assumption that a man might have ulterior motives for entering a room that is designated for women only. This logic is then extended, albeit questionably, to associate the presence of more than one sex in a restroom with danger, even when removed from the original situation in which These factors structure restrooms as a place of vulnerability and fear for many individuals. Feelings of e xposure and isolation serve to create serious concern for safety in restroom. These are heightened by the designation of these rooms as sexed spaces. Thus, safety is seen as a central concern with regard to the prospect of gender inclusivity of public rest rooms.
32 PRIVACY Whereas safety was associated with the fear of violence, privacy was associated with the fear of personal exposure. Two individuals discussed issues with the ph ysical restroom set up emphasizing the importance that old female), and tall enough to provide adequate coverage [21 year old female]) One participant mentioned the possibil ity of other women bringing their sons into the restrooms and said that she does not mind this, as long as the boy did not peek into [ her ] stall old female) Many other participants just said hey meant by that. This lack of explanation is interesting in and of itself, as it may indicate that individuals feel their also mentioned privacy not only for themselves, but also in the context of not wanting to see others, stipulating that they keep private and close the doors. Though the make up of individuals who mentioned safety in their responses was mixed with regard to gender, the individuals who mentioned privacy w ere almost all female, except for one male. This seemed interesting, especially considering the fact that males tend to be more exposed in restrooms, as there are generally fewer stalls in favor of privacy as they are more accustomed to lesser restroom privacy. This may also speak to the evocation of shame and embarrassment in individuals who menstruate. That menstruation is conceptualized as dirty and shameful supports the claim that ery self old female). As
33 t here already exists an assumption that women should keep private, even from other women who are likely to also experience the process (Cavanagh 2010) t his self consciousness is likely exacerba ted in proximity to those who presumably do not share the bodily function. The discrepancy in concern for privacy may also be indicative of the pervasiveness of the male gaze (Mulvey 1975). It is generally accepted that voyeurism, like sexual assault, is m ost frequently perpetrated by men and against women. It can be objects that exist for their viewing pleasure. Thus, women exhibited greater concern with experiencing this in vasion of privacy. CLEANLINESS AND HYGIENE Five participants 2 male and 3 female mentioned cleanliness or sanitation in their rationale for separate sex restrooms. Two of the female respondents felt that more clean than m These responses indicate an extant belief that women should be more clean and tidy than men. It is seen as not only acceptable, but almost inevitable that men make messes in the re stroom. Women, however, are expected by themselves as well as each other to uphold a higher level of cleanliness. Other respondents mentioned cleanliness without explicitly mentioning differences in male and female hygiene habits. One participant said that she mostly
34 clean and lockable. Simil arly, another participant, a 22 year old male, said that if people could have an understanding about clean community restrooms, then gender inclusive Another respondent, age 65, said that he preferred The common sentiment among the respondents who discussed cle anliness was that they would not mind gender inclusive restrooms per se ; they were just concerned that such an arrangement might lead to dirty restrooms. DIFFERENT NEEDS A few participants, one male and two females, alluded to individuals having different needs for restroom usage according to gender. These participants all used this as support for separating restrooms by sex. The women ages 81 and 19, respectively mentioned needs for sanitary napkins, makeup, and appearance maintenance as well as feeling s of self consciousness around men. Interestingly, the male respondent noted that adding a gender neutral restroom women need more year babies, that could be fulfilled in a gender neutral room. Another participant, a 63 year old female, mentioned the overlapping need for child care accommodations, noting how some parents may need to accompany children of anot her gender. These responses seemed to indicate a concession of restroom needs not being entirely gendered, but still an insistence that some are, and thus, the distinction ought to be maintained in spite of its shortcomings.
35 Though respondents mentioned th e need for sanitary napkin disposal as a reason for gendered restrooms, not one participant mentioned urinals. This could be because napkin disposal is more of a necessity, whereas urinals provide no utility that cannot be provided by a traditional toilet. It could also be merely consequential of the not so much merely different, but due to a stereotype of women being more particular or needy in their restroom requir ements. It continues to posit the separation of restrooms by sex as a paternalistic convention, one that exists for the benefit of women. Gender Non Conforming Experiences The one gender non conforming individual relayed vastly different experiences with a nd views about sex segregated restrooms. Only one participant age 19, identified as anything other than male or female, but this participant a genderqueer/transmasculine person offered a significant amount of insight into their experiences through the ir lengthy and detailed responses. hey reported often feeling internally but not doi ng so out of fear of what [ their ] interactions in the restroom [or] outside the restroom would be experience of feeling unsafe in public restrooms is distinct from that expressed by female participants because for non binary individua ls, there is no so lack of gender inclusivity in most public rest rooms leaves them with a choice between two potentially dangerous options.
36 In addition to voicing fear of repercussions for using their bathroom of choice, the partici pant noted safety concerns that may arise in gender inclusive restrooms as well, neutral restrooms because they reduce th e pressure that [they] associate with choosing a restroom, and the stress and dysphoria that they feel when [they] have to choose between two options that do not fit Reactions to Transgressions Perhaps the most salient trend to emerge in the data was the seeming contradiction between whether or not participants supported separating restrooms by sex and whether or not they cared if this arrangement was challenged on an individual level. The majority of respondents (15 out of 21) answered yes when asked if they think that public restrooms should be divided into two rooms by sex. Of these 15 however, about half said they would not care if they saw a restroom, and two thirds said they would not care if they saw an individual of prefer separate sex restroom reacted negatively to gender non conforming individuals of both categories, the majority of those 15 res pondents, as well as the majority of respondents as w hole, did not care about the presence of gender non conforming individuals. Additionally, the presence of individuals of unexpected perceived sex elicited more negative responses than the presence of individuals of indeter minate perceived sex.
37 UNEXPECTED PERCEIVED SEX Participants expressed the most concern with regard to individuals of unexpected sex than individuals of uncertain sex. When asked to imagine seeing an individual in their participant perceived to be a member of the opposite sex, 12 respondents said they would not have a problem with or possibly not even notice the person. One participant, age 81, not intrude on [her] private s year old female, said that problem with the scenario. One participant, age 21, expressed some person clearly identified as a female, I would be more comfortable than if I was sharing a Another participant, als o a 21 year old feel uncomfortable and probably notify som year old male, said that he too might T wo respondents expressed disapproval, even if they seemed d ispassionate on the issue. A 65 year old male said [sic] shocked, as anything goes these days, probabl y ask [ the person ] to leave. A 67 year old female said that she would probably leave, but noted that s he would not do anything
38 The one genderqueer participant, age 19, mentioned experiences of having their gender misread and consequently being stared at and made to feel uncomfortable in the they would react upon seeing a gender non normative individual in the restroom. For example, one participant year old male), another that she year old female). Narrowing down the responses to the 15 participants who expressed preference for separate sex restrooms, the proportion of negative re sponse s was higher. Eight respondents answered that they personally would not care if they noticed someone in whose sex they perceived as in congruent with their gender presentation. One participant would be suspicious of the individual but do nothing, and another would not care, unless they found the individual suspicious, in which cause they would notify someone. One respondent would be surprised, and another would be confused. One respondent would ask the individual to leave, and anot her would disapprove of the individual and leave herself. One participant did not answer the question. Overall, m ost participants had little issue with the presence of an individual in ligned with the Participants who favored separate sex restrooms were more likely to react negatively to the presence of individuals of unexpected sex. These negative reactions included confusion, surprise, or discomfort Even though a m inority these
39 participants were suspicious of the motives of an individual of unexpected assigned sex in a gendered restroom. UNCERTAIN PERCEIVED SEX Presented with a slightly different scenario, in which the participant imagines seeing an individual in t he restroom whom they were unable to distinguish as a man or a woman, respondents expressed less apprehension Though, similarly to the previous condition, most that is, 14 respondents said they would not care at all t he remaining six 4 showed less con cern in their responses for this scenario than the previous These reactions were mostly out of curiosity, however, and not suspicion or discomfort One, a 21 year old female, said she would probably think it was weird, but would not do anything. A differe nt 21 year old female said she would be a bit more confused than she was for the previous scenario, wherein the person in question presented in accordance with the restroom category, but would nevertheless let them be. One participant who said old male) if he saw an individual of whose gender he was uncertain. O nly two participants reacted nega tively to the ambiguous gender situation. The 67 year old female who said that she would disapprove and leave if she perceived scenario, as well. More assertively, one 63 year old female said that she would probably as 4 One participant left this field blank.
40 restrooms. It is likely then that she is more concerned with making sense of the individ with the presence itself of the individual. She found the individual confusing rather than cause for suspicion. Gender is a very salient way in which individuals conceptualize one another. It is among the first things they tend to notice about each other; it is the first thing they ask pregnant people about their prospective baby. It makes sense, then, that an individual of uncertain sex would cause others old female) or (21 year old female), especially in an explicitly gendered space. Still most respondents reported not caring about the idea of gender ambiguous individuals in the restroom. Though some reported curiosity, confusion, and surprise, only one participant ment ioned confronting the individual in question. This contrasted with reactions to the scenario featuring an individual of unexpected perceived sex. There are a few possible explanations for this difference. One possible reason for the increased suspicion of individuals whose perceived sex is incongruent with their gender presentation is the narrative of trans women as predatory and deceitful ; men with bad intentions dressing as women (Serano 2007 ) Many participants allude to expectations of bad intentions, old female). This cissexist assumption invalidates the identity of trans women. It emphasizes assigned sex as not only the determinant of gender, but also of malicious and violent behavior. Another explanation is the decreased likeliness of an individual to confront another when they are uncertain of the grounds on which they intend to do so. If a nge them
41 because of the possibility they may be incorrect. old male). This is also indicative though their assigned sex is the ultimate criteria for access to a gendered space. ear, it is not an intentional decision. They may view their gender presentation as accidental, and so they vidual to ask if they need old female). On the other hand, participants may view the person with incongruent gender presentation as making a conscious decision to transgress gender expectations. They see this as an intentional threat to the safety and comfort they feel in a simplified view of sex and gender as binary. Summary understandings of the reasons for sex segregation of public restrooms seemed on the surface to address practical concerns. They mentioned issues of safety, privacy, presumably different needs, and hygiene. However, the fact that individuals view these issues as inherently related to gender sheds some interesting light on underlying ideologies. These ideologies seemed to elicit sig nificant anxiety surrounding the prospect of losing gender specific spaces, especially those for women. This in turn seems to stem from the assumption that women are vulnerable or weak, and in need of protection.
42 ed a belief in, or at least an opinion influenced by the gender binary, the majority expressed accepting attitudes toward vel; that is, their own interactions in public restrooms However, some individuals, though the minority, expressed suspicion and discomfort at the prospect of sharing a restroom with an individual whose perceived physical sex did not align with gender presentation. Interestingly, p articipants were less concerned with individuals of indeterminate sex than they were with individuals of unexpected sex. This difference is likely indicative of binary and cissexist conceptualizations of gender.
43 DISCUSSION Participants' responses raise several related concepts Concerns with safety bring up the topic of gendered violence and rape culture Issues raised throughout responses safety, privacy, and hygiene all tend to portray women as inherently vulnerable and needy, as the main beneficiaries of sex segregation. Gendered Violence Arguably the m ost obvi ous implication those dealing with safety issues, is the pervasiveness of sexual violence in our society. sexual assault illust rates the ubiquitous nature of the fear and threat of gendered violence. well. There is an average of 207,754 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault in the United States each year (U.S. Department of Justice 2010). This equates to one victim every two minutes. These staggering statistics suggest that rape is not an uncommon occurrence or an accumulation of isolated incidents, but rather a result of what Buchwald et. al (1993) call rape culture: a set of values and beliefs that provide an environment conducive to rape. These beliefs normalize and excuse sexual violence, positing it as a mere fact of life, an unavoidable occurrence that, though it can be av in line with this train of thought. In a rape culture, where women are constantly told and shown that they are not safe, the mere presence of a man in a restroom with a w oman is inherently threatening.
44 A particularly insidious part of rape culture is that by framing sexual assault as inevitable, it places the blame upon the victim. When sexual assault is seen as something ponsibility to avoid it. As such, women are put on the look out for the possibility that they may be attacked, effectively restricting their movement to that which is deemed safe. In a rape culture, a woman must carefully avoid any space in which others mi ght accuse her rather than her attacker, of putting herself in danger. In a rape culture, society polices victims and spaces, not rapists. Despite the stranger rape narrative so frequently put forth in the media, sexual assault is not caused by women wear ing short skirts or existing in dimly lit areas. The U.S. Department of Justice (2005) approximates that 73% of sexual assaults are perpetrated by a non stranger; 38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance, 28% are an In the words of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National The perpetuation of these narratives serves not only to erase the realities of sexual assault curtailing efforts t o combat its prevalence but also to strengthen the power the threat of sexual assault has to control the movements of those at greatest risk. Similarly to how rape culture limits the movements and autonomy of women with the threat of sexual violence, cis normative culture limits the movements and autonomy of gender non conforming individuals with the threat of cissexist violence. The Bureau of Justice Statistics does not include identity, and therefor e does not track hate crimes against gender and sexual minorities in its National Crime Victimization Survey. However, from reports on 14 major cities, 5 states, and one multi state region from 1997 to 2006, the National Coalition of Anti
45 Violence Programs (NCAVP) calculates an average of 213 hate crimes per year against transgender people. Additionally, several scholars note that individuals who disturb the apparent naturalness of the man masculinity/woman femininity binary are prone to abusive comments, e xclusions, and physical violence (Butler 1990; Namaste 1996; Halberstam 1998; Munt 2001). More specifically, gender non conforming participants in many studies (Cavanagh 2010; Browne 2004) report feeling afraid to use public restrooms and experiencing host ility in restrooms, ranging from glares to physical violence. Cisnormativity and rape culture function similarly, but not in a parallel manner. Rather, rape culture exacerbates the effects of cisnormativity by helping to construct the restroom as a site of danger. As rape culture causes victims and places to be policed rather than rapists themselves, a space that is both isolated and defined by sex, such as a restroom, becomes a place of heightened vulnerability and fear. Cis women experience this threat as posed mainly by those they perceive as male, i.e., more likely to commit sexual assault. Gender non conforming people experience this threat in a less clear manner; it is difficult to predict who is likely to commit a hate crime that is neither well docum ented nor well publicized. Thus, it is an entirely possible scenario for two women to be in one restroom one cisgender, and one transgender and both feel threatened by the other. In this way, rape culture and cisnormativity work together to threaten an d limit the safety and autonomy of cis women, trans women, and gender non conforming people of various identities.
46 Much of the rationale for separate sex restrooms comes from a view of women needing more accommodations than men. F irst, the discussion of safety centers almost exclusively on protecting women from men. This particular issue may be largely attributed to issues of gendered violence discussed above, but that does not cancel out its paternalistic overtones or its subtle m Many participants discuss cleanliness and hygiene in a way that describes women as unwilling to share a restroom wit h men, who are either implicitly or explicitly characterized by lacking hygiene standards. This does not only depict men as slovenly, but it also implies that women are more sensitive and must be protected from potential messes in restrooms. Respondents, b oth male and female, also claim that women need more toilets in general, as well as accommodations for appearance maintenance and make up. This framing of gender separation as for the benefit of the fairer sex, so to speak, is underlined by the fact that m any male respondents present their ideas seemingly on behalf of women rather than for their own interests. One respondent points out that old male), implying that the solution to this would be creating more stalls in wo old female) claims that women need separate restrooms because they need sanitary napkins, operating under the assumption that no such disposal could exist in a shar ed restroom. Interestingly, participants make no napkin disposals seems more
47 urinals. Participants do not mention u rinals as a potential source of discomfort for women; just napkin disposals as such for men. M presence as a contaminating force, particularly with regard to the biological process of me nstruation. When asked why women require more privacy than men do in restrooms, a male Virginia Military Institut e cadet vaguely cited health reasons, his commanding officer blood to the rationale (Case 2000). This conveys a view of women as impure, dirty, and a source of contamination, mainly due to m enstruation, which is generally looked upon as dirty, unpleasant, and messy (Fingerson 2005). Menstrual blood is a possible contaminant from which men must be protected (Overall 2007). A Kristevan interpretation suggests that menstrual blood may be abject not because of cleanliness or health issues, but because its female coded presence in a non female specific space may challenge borders between male and female bodil y expectation s. However, the expulsion of female coded hygiene products is framed more so as a establishment of spaces for these products No participants explicitly state that men may not wish to use a restroom with hygiene products present; this is taken as a given. priorities are seen as such default that they need not even be spoken; they are silent yet particular and ultimately othered. Th ough respondents do not mention any restroom needs as specific to males,
48 needs, such as childcare. Through this lens, gender categories are discrete, but not entirely di ssimilar. It is interesting, however, that this overlap is used as reason to create a third, separate restroom rather than a reason to consider de segregating existing rooms. This means that these similarities are significant enough to require attention, b ut not significant enough to challenge the gravity of the purported differences. In this case, the boundaries are allowed to overlap, but they must remain intact. Gender Policing and Boundary Crossing: The Personal and Political Though only a few participa nts claim they would react to the presence of a gender non conforming individual in the restroom, some responses do shed light on views of challenges to the gender binary. One individual (21 year old female) when explaining her preference for separate sex restrooms note s explicitly that she would not mind the as a female if not female assigned at birth A nother respondent (19 year transgenders [ sic ] Similarly, one participant (21 year old female) individual in question is oriented in such a way that they feel they belong in this Though it is favorable to these individuals to have separate restrooms, they prefer the separation to be based on gender identity rather than assigned sex. Because one cannot reliable perceive an other ity, gender presentation is the most salient and sometimes only cue used observation and concern in public restrooms.
49 Some female participants discuss their own accou ntability to gender expectations and self policing of gender. They point out their needs regarding appearance upkeep, including hair, makeup, and other aesthetic concerns. One mentioned an inclination to police the gender of others, saying she (63 year old female) would ask a gender nonconforming individual with full knowledge that this One (21 year old female) express ed noting that she would spend Another respondent (23 year old male) said he look twice at the individual in question. One participant (81 year other (21 year old It seems then, that these a desire more to make sense of them. Even the parti cipant who said she would confront an individual said that she would ask them if they were in the right room and not perceptions of those around them. Though parti ci pants for the most part report that they would not mind or react to the presence of gender non confor ming individuals of either category presented some express negative feelings old male) or being wary of old female) at the presence of an individual whose perceived sex and gender presentation were incongruent. This contrasts with reactions toward individuals of indeterminate assigned sex. This difference may reflect the cisse xist view that trans women are actually men with ulterior motives who dress as
50 women. assessment of which they are not certain old male) Of course, this also reflects the space. Additionally, ambiguous perceived sex may be seen as accidental and an un ression of gender expectations. It is interesting that only two participants admit they might confront a gender non conforming individual, considering that this is not an infrequ ent occurrence in many gender non 2004). This indicates that despite the vocal, hostile portion of individuals who actively police the genders of those around them, the majority of peo ple are, though curious, not because this study utilized a relatively small sample size, even one respondent makes up 5% of the population. This figure may seem low, bu t because public restrooms are such Assuming a gender non conforming person uses the restroom six or seven times a day (Bladder and Bowel Foundation 2012) and one third o f these are in public places, they would likely be confronted about once every ten days. However, it is not only individuals who engage in gender policing, but in some cases actual police officers. States like Arizona have introduced legislature that rende rs many public restroom use illegal for transgender individuals. An Arizona House panel approved a bill (SB1045) that protects businesses from civil or criminal liability if they
51 ban individuals from restrooms incongruent with their assigned sexes. Propose d by Appropriations Committee chairman John Kavanagh (R Ariz.), the bill originally sought birth. This would be a class one misdemeanor, and the accused could face a $2, 500 fine certificate (SB1045) process, often requiring very expensive surgery, this measure would eliminate almost any and/or arrest from other civilians or police officers. ( SB1045 ) sets it up as a sort of retaliation against recent anti discrimination measures passed by the Phoenix City Council (Ordinance G 5780) (12 News Phoenix 2013). According to Kavanagh, Ordinance G 5780 "turned gender upside down" (CBS 5 2013). His bill (SB1045), commonly referred to as "the bathroom bill," is then a reaction to that room, or vice versa. It also raises the specter of people who want to go into those (12 News Phoenix 2013) This wording is interesting, as it introduces gender non conformity being weir d by critiquing the very idea of sex as an identity, but then goes on to create a on the usual talking point that gender inclusive restrooms are supposedly unsafe
52 him uncomfortable. Conservative political organizations tend to be the most ardent opponents of gender inclusive restroom legislation. The Family Research Council, American Fam ily Association, Massachusetts Family Institute, and their affiliates are among the most well known. Massachusetts Family Institute Action a group asso ciated with Focus on the Family is responsible for a widespread video commercial campaign attacking t he Transgender Equal Rights Bill in Massachusetts. These videos portray transgender women as men dressed as women as a ploy to infiltrate restrooms and commit sexual assault. More recently, the MFI is attacking Massachusetts Commissioner of Education Mitch 12 should be allowed to use the restroom congruent with their gender identity. The MFI raises concerns that this policy cites an example of a male student participating, as a girl, on a n all squad In its emphasis on the cheerleading example, this argument belies a deeper anxiety not just about the perceived potential for unfairness in athlet ic competition, but more so about gender transgressions. There is a clear difference between the thoughts and concerns expressed by individuals in this study and the arguments offered by conservative political organizations. Where groups like the Family Re search Council caution against the slippery slope into complete gender anarchy, individuals express more mundane issues such as the cleanliness of toilet seats and availability of sanitary napkin disposals. These concerns are certainly informed by gender i deologies and attitudes as well, but gender
53 seems to be more of an underlying factor beneath other concerns for individuals, whereas conservative groups see gender inclusivity in and of itself as the problem. W hereas individuals are concerned with the inte ractional aspects of gender arrangements right wing groups especially those with religious affiliations have vested interest in the maintenance of gender as an institution Their entire platform is based on visions of the heteronormative familial stru cture, which relies heavily on the existence of rigid categories and expectations of men and women. goals are necessarily unattainable. in shaping conceptualizations of sex and gender. Popular ideologies about sex and gender, the gender binary in particular, lead to the structuring of sex segregated public restrooms. As this arrangement became more and more institutionalized, these distin ct gendered places became concrete daily reminders and facilitators of gender differences. Gender ideologies are so pervasive that individuals immediately associate concepts such as safety, privacy, and hygiene wi t h gender differences. Basic human excretor y functions are viewed through a lens of disparate gender characteristics, needs, and priorities. Practical Implications The practical implications of this study are those regarding suggestions for changes and improvements in current restroom arrangements. Though the overwhelming majority of participants are in favor of separate sex restrooms, they are also for the most
54 part open to other arrangements. Although thirteen respondents are open to the idea of gender inclusive restrooms a few of which even men tion the need for accommodations for gender non conforming individuals eight respondents are opposed to this idea. From this data, it seems that eliminating gendered restrooms would make a significant amount of people uncomfortable. However, most partici pants do favor the addition of a gender inclusive option, as long as there is sufficient privacy offered. Some respondents specified they would prefer gender inclusive restrooms to be single stalls, while others said they were comfortable with multi stalls The common sentiment amongst respondents is that as long as restrooms are safe, private, and clean, they are comfortable with using them. Thus, the practical implication of these responses is that while the complete de segregation of public restrooms is not yet a viable option, it is highly favorable that accommodations such as third rooms are added and that single stall, locking restrooms be designated open to individuals of all genders. This arrangement provides safety and security for gender non confor ming individuals without making cisgender people uncomfortable.
55 CONCLUSION This study has explored how individuals conceptualize the sex segregation of public restrooms, in an attempt to better understand how binary beliefs about gender structure play ou significant access to public space is limited by these factors the most. Conceptualizations of public restroo ms were, indeed, reflective of conceptualizations of sex and gender differences as a whole. As safety considerations took the forefront in much of the subject matter, the idea that women are vulnerable and in need of protection from predatory men permeated most of the text were also framed as special interests rather than standard needs, framing women as the Additionally, the prospect of s haring restroom facilities between men and women posed a threat to certain id eas of sanitation and elicited reluctance to challenge binary sex categories Participants in this study did not demonstrate strong opinions on the presence of gender non conforming individuals in public sex segregated restrooms. Though they supported the idea of two distinct restrooms, one for men and one for women, they were for the most part, accepting on an individual level of those who may transgress these boundaries. Participants did exhibit some suspicion and less approval toward individuals of unex pected perceived sex than toward individuals of uncertain perceived sex. They also still demonstrated a preference for the maintenance of these gender categories as ways of making sense of the world. This demonstrates how salient and ubiquitous gender is i n interpreting social realities.
56 The implications of research point to the feasibility of restroom reform. If people are indeed open minded and accepting of gender non conforming individuals in restrooms, there must be a way to accommodate both trans and c isgender interests in public restrooms. The knowledge that unexpected perceived sex is more troubling to restroom users than indeterminate perceived sex helps to shed light on what that arrangement may entail In the future, it will be useful to explore po ssible alternative arrangements for public restrooms in more depth. There exist s a multitude of ways these facilities may be reorganized: single and/or multi stall rest rooms, floor space layouts, sink placement, childcare amenities, presence or absence o f urinals, and accessibility, and countless other factors must be taken into account. Additionally, suspicious attitudes toward gender non conforming individuals may be further interrogated. Understanding bigotry is the first step toward combatting it. Thi s research will help to reorganize public restrooms in a way that is equitable and safe for all.
57 APPENDIX A Informed Consent Letter You are invited to participate in a study of sex segregation in public restrooms. I hope to es and opinions on sex segregation of public restrooms. You were selected as a possible participant in this study because you are on site at the sampling time. If you decide to participate, I will ask you to complete a short survey asking about your opin ions of sex segregation in public restrooms. The survey should take less than ten minutes to complete. It asks about restrooms, of course, which may be a sensitive topic You are not expected to disclose more information than you are comfortable. This surv ey will afford you the opportunity to consider issues of gender and public space you may not have previously considered Any information that is obtained in connection with this study and that can be identified with you will remain confidential and will n ot be disclosed. Your decision whether or not to participate will not prejudice your future relationships with New College of Florida. If you decide to participate, you are free to discontinue participation at any time without prejudice. Please feel f ree to ask questions regarding this study. You may contact me later if you have any additional questions at 240 421 7129 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also contact the Internal Review Board of the New College of Florida at 941 487 4649. You are making a decision whether or not to participate. You may withdraw at any time without prejudice should you choose to discontinue participation in this study.
58 SURVEY Please provide the following information: Age: ___________ Gender: ___________ Please ans wer the following questions: 1. Most public restrooms are divided into two rooms: one for men, and one for women. Do you think this is the way public restrooms should be? a. If you prefer separate restrooms, please explain why. 2. What is you r reaction to the idea that all restrooms (single stall or multi stall) be open for anyone of any gender to use?
59 3. Can you think of any other arrangements for restrooms that you would be comfortable with? 4. Imagine you saw an individual i of your same sex but who you perceived to be a member of the opposite sex (ex: whom you perceived as male OR s room and saw someone wearing a suit whom you perceived as female). What would your reaction to this scenario be? How would you feel, and what would you do? 5. if t his person was a woman or a man. What would your reaction to this scenario be? How would you feel, and what would you do?
60 APPENDIX B Age Gender 1 2 Safety Privacy Hygiene Identity Unexpected Uncertain 21 M yes X X dc / might look twice dc 23 M no + dc dc 21 F yes X X dc / suspect dc / suspect 65 M yes X X ask to leave dc 63 F maybe + X X X dc / keep private ask if need other 50 M yes dc dc 21 F yes X X dc / notify if suspicious weird 19 GQ no + X dc dc 78 M yes suspect dc 81 F yes 0 dc dc 81 F yes X surprised dc / curious 67 M maybe + X dc dc 54 M yes + dc dc 21 F yes 0 X X X dc / confused dc / confused 67 F yes + X leave leave 34 F yes X X 22 M maybe + X dc dc 21 M no + dc dc 68 F yes 0 X X dc dc 52 M yes + dc dc 19 F yes 0 X dc dc
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