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When you look different, the simple act of relieving yourself can have terrifying complications.
"Public bathrooms are a place where violence can happen to gender-variant people," says 23-year-old Bailey Stevens, who cocreated Safe2Pee.org, an online database of gender-neutral bathrooms. "There are countless cases of people being attacked for being wrongly perceived."
Safe2Pee was launched over a year ago in San Francisco and currently identifies nearly 1,400 gender-free restrooms in more than 350 cities in North America. San Francisco has 130, while Chicago has just 15.
The site recently garnered mainstream attention when New York's Museum of Modern Art included it in an exhibit called "Design and the Elastic Mind," which looks at how technology alters behavior.
Safe2Pee utilizes mash-up technology to point out secure latrines. Much like DJs "mashing up" two songs, the online application merges databases with a Google Maps application. For Safe2Pee, the results are pushpin icons that represent bathrooms sprinkled over a map.
Safe2Pee is overseen by a group of genderqueer hackers with a sense of humor, says Stevens. Visitors can post new info or locations directly onto the site.
In the future Safe2Pee may become accessible by phone. For now, the MoMA show is a great boost in visibility. Stevens says, "It's pretty wild to see the words 'genderqueer hackers collective' on the wall of a major museum."