The Null Device

The third sex

The Brazilian city of Nova Iguacu has such a large transvestite population that the local council will require public facilities to provide them with separate lavatories.
"It was a real problem. The women didn't feel comfortable having them in the ladies' room, and the men didn't want them in their bathroom either," said Mr Moreira, who is married and the father of two children.
Mr Moreira said there were nearly 28,000 transvestites in Nova Iguacu, a poor city of about 800,000. He said many transvestites were reluctant to go out because there were no lavatory facilities for them. He denied that the cost of building a third room would pose a big problem for restaurant or club owners.
Which adds up to about 3.5% of the population of Nova Iguacu being transvestites. I wonder whether this is some kind of local quirk specific to this city, or a common phenomenon in Brazil, perhaps analogous to Thailand's "ladyboys".

Not to mention what the icon on the door of the transvestites' toilet would look like.

There are 3 comments on "The third sex":

Posted by: Michael S. Tue Dec 20 22:41:21 2005

A clarification: I don't think this is a law yet; the piece talks of Mayor Lindberg Farias having to decide "whether to make it law." I wonder if unisex bathrooms are acceptable?

Posted by: Andrew Wed Dec 21 23:33:35 2005

I think a 'unisex' bathroom would be a better option. It's less segregation as 'another option'. Given the reason for the law (the 'nons' are the ones who are uncomfortable) the whole idea stinks of segregation to me.

I've always had the thought in the back of my mind that we'll never get real equality of the sexes while we remain deliberately segregated, although I understand the obvious safety issues with being alone in a public toilet.

Posted by: acb Thu Dec 22 00:07:37 2005

Anyway, biology sort of makes absolute sexual equality implausible. Even discounting the reproduction thing*, the blank-slate theory that sexual differences are due to conditioning is looking less and less tenable (for example, a recent experiment showed that young chimpanzees, left to their own devices, prefer "male" and "female" toys according to sex).

Maybe once reproduction is farmed out (to womb machines or something) and humanity modifies itself to make it vestigial, then we can talk about sexual equality. Though I imagine that we're more likely to see dozens of different "genders" adapted to lifestyle choices and subcultural customs.