As you’ve likely heard by now, there is a heated national debate over who should and should not be allowed to use public bathrooms. Politicians like North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory and Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick have been perpetuating this idea that we have a serious problem of men, dressed as women, following women into bathrooms with sinister intent. As a result, Republicans have been refusing to include transgender people in nondiscrimination policies because, by their logic, this will make it easier for bad people to do bad things.

There are no instances of men dressed as women going into women’s bathrooms to cause a fuss, or of transgender people doing anything in bathrooms that people shouldn’t be doing. Still, bathroom bills have become the new fighting ground over the right to privacy ever since North Carolina passed HB 2, which bans transgender people from using any bathroom that doesn’t match the sex on their birth certificate. HB 2 also prohibits local, city governments from passing any nondiscrimination ordinances of their own.

These bathroom bills are entirely unenforceable, but that hasn’t stopped regular citizens from feeling they have a right to police one another. Since HB 2 passed, there have been multiple instances of cisgender men (who aren’t dressed as women) following women and children into bathrooms just to check if they are really women and are using the correct bathroom. In short, these bathroom bills are causing more problems than they claim to solve.

It should go without saying that you shouldn’t bother people in public restrooms, but apparently it needs to be said. Below, you can find a handy guide to using public bathrooms. Hopefully it is helpful.

  1. Don’t follow strangers into bathrooms to figure out what genitalia they have. 
  2. When using a public restroom, don’t look into or under someone’s stall.
  3. Don’t comment inappropriately on people’s appearances. Oggling strangers isn’t a good idea, either.
  4. Do your business IN the toilet or urinal, not AROUND it.
  5. Please flush. We can’t believe we need to say it.
  6. Don’t touch people without their consent. (Again, can’t believe we even need to say it).
  7. If you think you might try to assault someone in a bathroom, tell the authorities so they can stop you from doing that.
  8. If you’re not sure if someone is a man or a woman, remind yourself that it doesn’t really matter and that you should go about minding your own business.
  9. If someone’s appearance bothers you, but they haven’t actually done anything to you, leave them alone. Your personal discomfort with someone’s appearance and/or existence is your problem and doesn’t outweigh their right to privacy.

There you have it. This is how you use the bathroom. Don’t forget to wash your hands!