+
upworthy
More

Etsy's latest move is an awesome and simple bit of office inclusivity.

'We believe that gender is not binary and that individuals should use the restroom that feels most comfortable for them.'

There are some really weird, outdated laws on the books in states across the country.

These types of lists pop up year after year. For example, did you know that in a number of states, it's illegal to sell cars on a Sunday? Or that in Massachusetts, you can be fined for singing the national anthem as dance music or in a medley?

Well, there's another law many states have on the books, and it has to do with how businesses should label their bathrooms by gender. But, in 2015, the law doesn't quite reflect reality for many people. And as we as a society become more aware of the fact that gender isn't as binary as bathroom doors might make it seem, well, what's a company to do?


Here's one company's creative solution:

Etsy made restrooms at their office gender-neutral. Or, well, as gender-neutral as the law allows.

An Etsy engineer named Sara posted this picture to Twitter.


That's cool, right? The fact is that not everybody neatly fits into "man" or "woman." Some people are a mix of both, neither, or something entirely altogether. When it comes to public restrooms, that can make things rough. The same goes for transgender people even within the gender binary.

"At Etsy, we continually examine our internal culture and practices, with a focus on fostering an inclusive, comfortable environment for everyone," Etsy vice president of people, workplace, and sustainability Brian Christman told Upworthy in an email.

"With this in mind, we’ve updated restrooms at our DUMBO headquarters to increase privacy and make them more accessible to all people, including transgender and gender nonconforming individuals. We believe that gender is not binary and that individuals should use the restroom that feels most comfortable for them."


Image from Etsy, used with permission.

So it's pretty obvious how Etsy's bathroom signs can be helpful for trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming folks, but what's this about state laws? And how does this story tie into ridiculous laws about dyeing ducks different colors or being unable to seek public office if you've ever participated in a duel?

In most states, it's required that businesses have separate restrooms for both men and women.

Here's how the law in New York — where Etsy is headquartered — reads:

"Separate toilet facilities shall be provided for each sex. All toilet facilities shall be provided with soap, paper towels or electrical hand drying units, and covered waste receptacles. Suitable sanitary napkin receptacles shall be provided in toilet facilities used by females."

OK, got it. Businesses have to provide separate facilities with soap, paper towels, and covered trash cans, and sanitary napkin disposal for the women's room.

And where do these types of laws even come from? The 19th century.

In a great article titled "Sex-Segregated Public Restrooms Are an Outdated Relic of Victorian Paternalism," Ted Trautman gives a quick rundown of where the idea of sex-segregated restrooms even comes from and why they exist. After all, in your house, do you have separate men's and women's restrooms? Probably not.

"Sex segregation was seen by regulators at the time as 'a kind of cure-all' for the era's social anxiety about working women," Trautman writes.

"Women's growing presence in the factory workforce, and in public life more generally, triggered a paternalistic impulse to 'protect' women from the full force of the world outside their homes, which manifested itself architecturally in a bizarro parallel world of spaces for women adjacent to but separate from men's — ladies' reading rooms at libraries, parlors at department stores, separate entrances at post offices and banks, and their own car on trains, intentionally placed at the very end so that male passengers could chivalrously bear the brunt in the event of a collision."

So, in 1887, Massachusetts became the first state to require businesses to have sex-segregated restrooms.


Ah, the good ol' 19th century factory! This is quite literally the model of sex-segregated restrooms. Women operating looms in the winding room of a Lancashire cotton mill. Photo by James Valentine/Getty Images.

And while women-only entrances to post offices and banks, separate reading rooms at libraries, and women-only train cars have become a thing of the past, the whole separate bathroom issue remains to this day.

What's so ridiculous about this law? Well, for one, it's inefficient.

Think about all the times you've seen the line for a women's restroom wrap around down a hallway while the men's room remains line-free. New York City realized this was a problem and decided the solution was ... to require places to build more women's rooms.

Like, this is what happened when more women started getting elected to Congress. As it turns out, the building was made for dudes. Lots and lots of dudes.


But really, if there's a situation where, let's say eight women and two men need to use the restroom, which of these layouts is more efficient?

This one, the one we're most familiar with, where three women are left waiting in line even though there are three perfectly available stalls to use in the men's room?

Or this one that takes up the same amount of space, but which all 10 people can use, do what they have to do, and go about their day?

Obviously, the all-gender restroom is the more efficient option.

But whoa whoa whoa, you may be thinking, "I don't want to share a bathroom with the men in my office!" or "I don't want to share a bathroom with the women in my office! I want some privacy!"

And you should get it! In an ideal world, restrooms would all be single-stall. I mean, who really wants to do ... you know ... next to someone else, anyway? But that's kind of the world we live in.

Breathe easy because it's unlikely all-gender restrooms will come to replace the standard men's and women's rooms anytime soon. Instead, as you'll see with more regularity, lots of places offer up men's, women's, and all gender restrooms. This way, people have a choice (and trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people have the option of using that if they so choose).

For example:

An increasing number of places are moving forward with adopting inclusive restrooms. Especially colleges.

The names vary — gender-neutral, unisex, all gender, gender-inclusive — but the purpose remains the same: restrooms able to be used by anyone of any gender.


Illinois State University has all-gender restrooms. There are still men's and women's restrooms found across campus, but they recently decided to swap the names of the "family restrooms" with more straight-forward language. The same goes for Columbia University, Barnard College, and a growing number of campuses across the country.

In a move as simple as adding a sign to their restroom doors, Etsy is taking a stand for inclusivity and progress.

Yes, it's that easy. To the overwhelming majority of their employees and office visitors, the change will have zero effect on how they navigate the office. But for a few, it'll make a huge, positive impact on their stress and ability to navigate the work day.

"We believe that gender is not binary and that individuals should use the restroom that feels most comfortable for them."

While laws in many places may require there to be separate restrooms labeled "men's" and "women's," that doesn't mean it's impossible to make the world a more inclusive place. It really can be as simple as a sign letting transgender and gender nonconforming individuals know that yes, they are welcome here.

Education

12 books that people say are life-changing reads

Some books have the power to change how we see ourselves, the world, and each other.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Books are powerful.

As a participant in the Amazon Associates affiliate program, Upworthy may earn proceeds from items purchased that are linked to this article, at no additional cost to you.

Out of all human inventions, books might just be the greatest. That may be a bold statement in the face of computers, the internet and the international space station, but none of those things would be possible without books. The written recording of human knowledge has allowed our advancements in learning to be passed on through generations, not to mention the capturing of human creativity in the form of longform storytelling.

Books have the power to change our lives on a fundamental level, shift our thinking, influence our beliefs, put us in touch with our feelings and help us understand ourselves and one another better.

That's why we asked Upworthy's audience to share a book that changed their life. Thousands of responses later, we have a list of inspiring reads that rose to the top.

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Things new parents think they need but don't.

There's nothing like preparing for a new baby. The excitement and anticipation take hold and before you know what's happening, your baby registry is five pages long full of things you've probably never heard of. I've been there before, and now, four kids later, I can tell you with absolute certainty that there are tons of things you actually don't need. It's easy to get carried away when everything is so tiny and cute, especially 'cause marketing around baby stuff is bananas. The following offers some alternative items to the ones you'll likely only use a limited number of times before practicality takes over.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

Terrified, emaciated dog comes to life as volunteer sits with him for human connection

He tries making himself so small in the kennel until he realizes he's safe.

Terrified dog transforms after human sits with him.

There's something about dogs that makes people just want to cuddle them. They have some of the sweetest faces with big curious eyes that make them almost look cartoonish at times. But not all dogs get humans that want to snuggle up with them on cold nights; some dogs are neglected or abandoned. That's where animal shelters come in, and they work diligently to take care of any medical needs and find these animals loving homes.

Volunteers are essential to animal shelters running effectively to fill in the gaps employees may not have time for. Rocky Kanaka has been volunteering to sit with dogs to provide comfort. Recently he uploaded a video of an extremely emaciated Vizsla mix that was doing his best to make himself as small as possible in the corner of the kennel.

Kanaka immediately wanted to help him adjust so he would feel comfortable enough to eat and eventually get adopted. The dog appeared scared of his new location and had actually rubbed his nose raw from anxiety, but everything changed when Kanaka came along.

Keep ReadingShow less
Internet

Man breaks down how living in an all-inclusive resort is cheaper than his average apartment

"I just might find myself on a beach somewhere sucking down cocktails and WHAT OF IT."

Representative Image from Canva

Are resorts the new retirement homes?

Don’t know if you heard, but the cost of living is pretty high these days. Prices for groceries, restaurants, gas, and other necessary items just to, you know, live in the world, reaching an all time high is already making what used to be a decent wage barely enough to get by.

And let’s not forget the biggest financial whammy of all: rent prices. According to Zillow, the average rent price in the US was $1,958 ( recorded in January 2024). That a whopping 29.4% price jump since pre-pandemic times. And of course, that not even taking larger, more expensive cities into account.


It’s enough to make you wonder: “Is it actually cheaper to just live in an all-inclusive resort at this point?”
Keep ReadingShow less
Family

People kept telling me to watch 'Bluey.' I still was not prepared.

Some adults say it's healing their inner child, but there's something in the popular Australian kids' show for everyone.

"Bluey" is popular with all ages, despite being aimed at kids.

I have a confession to make. I'm 48 years old, my youngest child is in high school and I can't stop watching "Bluey."

For the uninitiated, "Bluey" is a kids' cartoon from Australia aimed at 5 to 7-year-olds. It's been nearly a decade since my household has seen that demographic, so when people kept telling me I should watch "Bluey," my reaction was basically, "Yeah, I've already done my kiddie show time, thankyouverymuch."

Then my almost-15-year-old started watching it just to see what the fuss was about. And as I started tuning in, I saw why people love it so much. I figured it was going to be a wholesome show with some good lessons for kids, and it is.

But it's also laugh-out-loud hilarious.

Keep ReadingShow less
Identity

Video shows 80 years of subtle sexism in 2 minutes

Subtle, persistent sexism over a lifetime is like water torture.

via HuffPo

Condescending sexism is persistently cliché.

Subtle, condescending sexist remarks such as "When are you going to have children?" and "You'd be so pretty, if you tried" are heard by women on a daily basis. Like water torture, what's subtle and persistent can become debilitating over a lifetime.

Making things more difficult is the contradicting nature of many sexist clichés that women are subjected to starting in childhood, such as "Is that all you're going to eat?" and "You eat a lot for a girl." Then there are the big-time, nuclear bomb sexist remarks such as "Don't be a slut" and "What were you wearing that night?" that are still shockingly common as well.

Keep ReadingShow less