Since we’re all talking about toilets…

You know I love a good potty subject. I can’t help it.


Lately, people are…let’s say “discussing” Target’s move to allowed transgender people use the bathroom they feel most comfortable in. Some say we should boycott Target. Honestly, I won’t. Because Target has always been accommodating towards Maura – from helping out when she had a massive meltdown, to a staff member telling me where the super secret family bathroom was in our store as Maura did the potty dance behind me, to stocking Caroline’s Carts in their stores. Also, Target is Maura’s “store” – it’s big enough without being too big, she’s familiar with it, we have a certain routine, and I’m just too damned tired to start fresh at another place mid-puberty.

But all this toilet talk does make me think. Not about who’s using what bathroom – I’ve never, to my knowledge, have had a male person barge into a public restroom to creep on me. However, I’ve been the mom pushing open the door to the men’s restroom to call in to boys – so really, I’m the creeper. I do take issue to the large gaps and short doors designers think are acceptable to have in the public restrooms of America. And – gasp – I’ve been in bathrooms in Europe that are gender neutral – meaning it’s just one bathroom, but the stalls are marked men or women – and then, you have a floor to ceiling, wall-to-wall door with less gaps than my own bathroom at home. Just shared sinks.

No, what bothers me is that suddenly, I’m supposed to have a stake in this argument over appropriate bathrooms, when my husband and I are living in a situation where because of Maura’s disabilities, many bathrooms aren’t appropriate for her, and others with disabilities.

Now, Maura is very capable in many ways, but she still needs help with other things, because fine motor and self-care skills are lacking. The kitchen and bathroom are the two rooms she needs the most help in, for various reasons. When she was younger and not toilet trained, we parents got to figure out the logistics of having to change a 9 year old’s diaper in a world where there are no changing tables for 9 year olds.

It was not up for national debate that our options were “change her standing up” or “lay her on the bathroom floor”. Sometimes, we didn’t even have the first option, only the second. And if we were out in public, and there was no single user/family/disabled toilet, well, then I tended to draw the short straw.

Not that my husband is a slacker. It’s just that neither of us want to parade our daughter through the men’s room. It’s just uncomfortable for everyone, because urinals.

But no one seems to care about that. No one cares about the mom who has the grown son with disabilities who needs help in the restroom, or the father who has to take his disabled daughter into the men’s room. No one minds that sometimes, the option is to change our disabled tween outside, in the back of the minivan, because that’s actually the easiest place.

No one cares that some of these new laws mean that if my husband takes our disabled daughter into a men’s room because she needs assistance, that our disabled daughter will be arrested. Because laws and gender. And yet, what are our options? Never leaving home? Only I can take her out? Only go to places with family restrooms so we can get the stink eye from moms with strollers who don’t realize that the teen with us is disabled and we have a legit reason for using the family bathroom?

Honestly, the idea of more gender neutral bathrooms is appealing to me. But we have a long way to go before public toilets are truly inclusive of everyone.

Image of a truly disabled toilet – photo credit  Independent Living