Monday, August 1, 2016

Peeing in the Gender Neutral Bathroom

This year, for the first time, there were (almost) enough toilets at the RWA® National Conference. This is because they converted the men's room on the main conference floor to a gender neutral bathroom.

So how did that work out?

It will come as no surprise to anyone that I'm a proponent of gender-neutral bathrooms. I've stood in way too many long lines at concerts and ballgames, doing an unchoreographed dance while I wait for one of three stalls to open up so I can expel two pints of liquid from a one-pint bladder. And while I jitterbug outside the ladies', guys are breezing in and out of the men's room with no wait whatsoever.

I've never been able to figure out what the big deal is about having a single, gender-neutral toilet instead of segregated facilities. Many of us, possibly even most of us, share a bathroom with a male of some age at some point in our lives. While they're not the neatest potty-mates (comedian Rita Rudner says of men and bathrooms, "They're not very specific.") it's really no worse than trying to share a bed with them.

Anyway, the conference in San Diego was my first opportunity to put my beliefs where my bladder is.

After downing orange juice, a coffee and a bottle of water over breakfast, then sitting through a keynote followed by a workshop on Networking for Introverts (Smile!), I felt like an at at-capacity water balloon. I race-walked to the Ladies', only to find it overflowing with ladies. Then I remembered seeing the above sign.

A quick toddle down the hall and there was the men's room, completely devoid of stall-competition. Two minutes later, I was washing my hands at a long row of marble-and-stainless-steel sinks with the mirror all to myself. When I walked back down the hall, there was still a line outside the Ladies'.

I started employing this strategy after every session. (Yes, every session. Do you have a problem with that?) A couple of times there were men in residence, and to be honest it felt a little weird. But the johns at the Marriott all had louvered wooden doors, so we were all quite private. (Although it must be noted that some of us are noisier than others.)

At no time did I walk in to find anyone utilizing a urinal, and I'm pretty happy about that. (Side note: Urinals remind me of the old cast iron sink that hung on the wall in the kitchen of my Great-Aunt Bertha's place in eastern Kentucky--sensible, functional and devoid of beauty.)

On Saturday morning I actually led a bevy of impatient ladies' down the hall and showed off my find. As we hurried down the hall, Tracy Brody (two time Golden Heart® winner for Romantic Suspense--that Tracy Brody) said, "I may be from North Carolina, but I don't care what they say about using the 'right' bathroom."

When we got to the door of the men's, she hollered, "Coming in!"

A male voice responded, "Come on in."

The whole gaggle of us went in and did our business. The one-man welcoming committee washed his hands and left. Another couple of other men came in. When they encountered a roomful of women, they blinked, then manned up and headed for the stalls.

And we all got along just fine.


  1. I love you guys. That is all. "Coming in!!" LOL!

    This is a great post, Jeanne! I also used the Gender Neutral room (I'm a mom of two, when I gots ta go, I gots ta go) and lived to tell the tale.


  2. Thought it only fair to give any guys a warning in case they thought all we romance writers would be too afraid to come in. I'm a bit of a renegade.

  3. I have always wondered why the ladies lines are so long and often though of just going in the mens...but one lady did that and there was a ruckus and they hauled her off to jail. I don't go anyplace to see if there are gender neutral bathrooms...but up North here we have family bathrooms. You writers are real trend setters:)


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