My first thought upon hearing that the US government and the North Carolina governor were suing and counter-suing over that state’s ban on transgender use of gender appropriate public toilets was not that I was instinctively on the side of the trans community, which I am, but to wish good luck to them in their search for any public toilets in America.
The truth about the U.S. is that it is a public toilet-averse country. There are just so few places in America, especially in the cities, where a citizen can relieve him or herself without the use of subterfuge or guile (the exceptions being the highways, at least if you can hold it in for 100 miles or so (!), and parks).
I remember on one of my very first trips to Manhattan as a 19-year old student looking for a summer job and traipsing the steamy streets not so much in search of employment but for a place to pee.
There were no public toilets at all and so I was forced to seek relief in bars where, with the barman watching your every move, it was advisable to pay for your pee by buying a glass of Coke, which sort of defeated the purpose of the exercise since hardly had I relieved myself, downed the Coke and resumed my quest for work than the urge grew again.
In Ireland, and in Britain, nearly every town and even some villages have a public toilet, ‘Men’ on one side, ‘Women’ on the other, usually right smack in the centre of town so everyone, especially travelers knows where to look.
Britain and much of Ireland went through a phase in the latter part of the 19th century and early years of the twentieth which we now refer to as municipal socialism when local councils set out to provide facilities and services designed to make working class life more bearable.
The provision of clean and hygienic public toilets was considered one of the more important of these resources. They also played a crucial part in the control of disease.
America seems to have missed out of this phase in human civilization, and more’s the pity.
I wish the trans community the best of luck in their legal tussle with the prehistoric government of North Carolina but they would be doing all of America a favour if, in the process, they drew attention to the public toilet gap that separates the US from a large slice of the rest of humanity.