The typical argument against gender inclusive restrooms is that if you let “men” into the designated female restroom, this will open the floodgates for sexual assault, molestation and general discomfort for women. These transphobic ideologies are further enforced with questions like, “What if a man decides he is a woman all of a sudden?” in the hopes of leading you to believe that a person can just choose their gender. Did you personally select your gender? Most likely, no. Gender is a crucial part of our identity that we do not choose. It is shaped by various factors, including innate nature.
What we do have sway over is gender expression, aka clothes, makeup, overall style, etc. To say that an individual is transgender or Trans* (casual terminology) is to say that they are an individual that does not identify with their assigned or perceived gender.
It is important to note that, in the instance of Trans women, they are not women trapped in a man’s body, they are in their own body, they simply do not identify with the labels assigned to them. Beyond this stereotype it should also be noted that there are many non-binary gender identities, which basically means that an individual does not strictly identify as either a man or a woman or with specific traits associated with those genders. There are also individuals that identify as multiple genders, or even agender. An individual that is not Trans* is referred to as cisgender (Cis for short) which means that they identify with their assigned gender (assigned male is a man, assigned female is a woman).
For many Trans* people, the bathroom can be a scary place, but it is also a necessary one. The bathroom presents many threats, among them, misgendering (referring to someone as an incorrect gender), harassment, violence, and sexual assault. Many opt for single stall restrooms, but on many college campuses these are sparse, hard to find, and also popular. All the while Cis people have stalls to spare! Imagine this: instead of two gendered restrooms side by side, there’s only one! When you gotta go, you gotta go. Does it really matter if, while you are pooping, there is someone of a different gender a stall away? Having large all-gender restrooms would increase access for all people.
With more friendly spaces for Trans* people, more visible spaces, it would also promote not only gender diversity but safety for Trans* people. With the few options for safe bathroom access on campus being stray single stall restrooms in random corners of buildings, these spaces are not always approachable because of their seclusion which increases the likelihood of unseen Trans* violence.
For many Cis people, their transphobia is built upon misconceptions of gender and thinking of it as something that is a “preference” for people. Contrary, Trans* people exist and as people, they deserve fundamental human rights, among those, the right to use a bathroom.