Navy introduces gender neutral bathrooms

In a rather thoughtful move, the navy announced last week that they will no longer have urinals on several of their aircraft carriers. One of their many reasons for doing this includes gender parity, or rather, potty parity. The hope is to create a more gender neutral environment. Sounds like a pretty uncontroversial move, but there’s no easy way to put it–bathrooms piss people off.

John Hudson rounds up some choice quotes around the new Navy policy at the Atlantic,

“Navy is getting way too politically correct,” wrote Steve Mcgaha in a thread on The Navy Times, an independent news source for sailors and their families. “Let’s get back to projecting sea power … and get rid of the NANNY NAVY.” Others were worried about the logistical implications. “Great. As if there weren’t enough pissed-on toilet seats on Aircraft Carriers,” wrote Matt Metz on the same Navy Times thread. “I guess actual warfighting is pretty low on the list in today’s big bucks, PC, diversity is our strength … Navy,” wrote Orville Seybert. In perhaps the most novel argument, Navy vet Timothy Ritchie argued that urinals aren’t actually gender-specific. “In Europe all gender-neutral bathrooms have urinals. It is a matter of sanitation. And believe it or not even a female can use a properly placed urinal with a bit of practice.”

It’s true, I could totally use a urinal–if I just tried harder, aimed better and didn’t mind potentially falling over into a puddle of urine. It completely makes sense that it’s easier for me to use a urinal, than it is for someone standing to not get any on the seat. (O, wait, that makes no sense).

How will they survive without those completely clean and never stinky bowls of waste matter?!

Joking aside–for whatever reason many adults crave the gender divisions of kindergarten when it comes to using the potty. As we’ve seen in many discussions here, bathrooms seem to be a visceral symbol for people that there is a concrete and solid distinction between genders and messing with them, messes with the social order of things. Who knew a potty could have so much power?

Not all the comments around the decision are negative–some feel it does just make sense for a variety of reasons,

The urinal policy also gained traction on Military News, an aggregator of defense news,, a website devoted to the military community. But it wasn’t all negative. Joey McGuire, a nuclear machinist in the Navy, shrugged off the decision. “We didn’t have any urinals on the Nimitz,” he said, referring to the Navy’s nuclear-powered supercarriers. “I don’t see what the big deal is.” At, a few commenters noted the maintenance benefits of not having urinals. Shylano wrote: “That is good news. Less things to clean.” Jagges added, “On my deployment on the Whidbey Island, they had most of the urinals removed because they are a pain to maintain. We had one in our head but it broke all the time. Too many people put dip or something in it and it would clog and make a mess.” Commenter SGTRJB took the new policy as a challenge. “I have toilets at home and have no problem. I can still stand and practice my marksmanship. Anything floating in the water instantly becomes the battleship Yamato or a new Chinese Aircraft Carrier.”

It’s kind of hard to see what the big deal is or why people would be upset about getting rid of urinals (they stink!). Having toilets generally gives you more privacy for anyone using the bathroom–no more worrying about “accidentally” looking over at your neighbor while they pee!

Join the Conversation

  • Miriam

    They could install these: ! I’m not sure if Timothy Ritchie and Lisa Wade are right or not (I’ve met at least one woman who insists she can pee standing up), but for myself I’m rather fond of female urination devices, which are basically just funnels that you can put between your legs in order to pee further. These also take some practice, but I enjoy the ability to pee standing up.

    That doesn’t mean I think other women should change the way they pee. Although honestly, I’m not sure why getting rid of urinals is necessary as long as there are also toilets.

  • Smiley


    Isn’t it rather silly?

    Women have always complained about the long queues at the Ladies’, compared with those at the Gents’.

    The queues are shorter because urinals take up much less room than the alternatives. Removing urinals? On a ship?! Where space is at a premium?

    I mean, how silly is that? What harm is there in having urinals?

    It all seems like someone in Washington who has never set foot on a ship came up with this bright idea. I can’t wait for them to introduce gender-free showers. Oh, wait, you’d oppose that?

  • Lamech

    These aren’t gender neutral bathrooms, you still have male and female bathrooms.

  • Camille

    I find it interesting that no women are mentioned as being interviewed about their thoughts on having gender neutral bathrooms.
    Lamech–I thought that they’re supposed to be like unisex bathrooms: one room that both men and women use.

  • Jack

    Agreeing with Lamech. I’m used to “gender neutral bathrooms” being used to mean “multi-stall bathroom shared by people of all genders” or “single-stall bathroom that is designated for use by people of all genders.” The title of this post made me do a double-take and think “Whoa, people of all genders can now use the same bathroom at the same time in the Navy!” Which is definitely not true; it’s just that the equipment in the bathroom is “gender neutral.” That’s OK I guess, but not nearly as interesting or astounding (I mean, it’s the Navy.)

  • Jason

    I know a few women that can use urinals. Granted that is a very small number of the women I know (and most likely in general society as well).

    Reading the linked articles it sounds like the urinal drop is really to save money for the Navy and that more women will be on the ships which presumably will not use the urinals. I always thought that urinals saved water, so from an environmental standpoint this wouldn’t be a good thing.

    However, I agree with the comments made before me – these aren’t “gender neutral” bathrooms. These are bathrooms without urinals. Like most bathrooms, you will just be able to change the sign on the door and gender it all you want.

    And in addition to Camille’s comment about women above, I’m surprised that no gender neutral people were quoted in the article. Oh wait, no I’m not! Because if you’re trans*, the Navy won’t have you! But you know, DADT is over so everything is fine right? (note: that last sentence is sarcasm)