In response to recent “bathroom” bills that would get the government involved in who can go where, Kansas City artist and underwear purveyor Peregrine Honig has crafted a response that is at once subversive and practical: an inclusive bathroom sign.
Working with Dennis Baughman at Midtown Signs in Kansas City, Kan., Honig, who owns Birdies lingerie boutique in the Crossroads, came up with a design that shows the familiar stick figure used to designate gender wearing a skirt on one side and trousers on the other. At the bottom, instead of “MEN” or “WOMEN,” it reads, “WE DON’T CARE.”
The ADA-compliant acrylic signs, complete with braille lettering, cost $125 at Honig’s website, allisfairinloveandwear.com. The first 100 in the run will be signed by the artist and sent out with thank you notes; proceeds will be used to produce the next run of 500.
When Honig dropped a photo of the sign on her Facebook page Friday, it was shared more than 1,000 times within 24 hours. A company in San Francisco placed one of the first orders.
Although the sign is functional, Honig’s original impulse was artistic.
“There is some care in not caring,” she says. “It’s truly abstract to me, the idea that what is on your birth certificate determines where you defecate. Is someone checking you at the door?”
Honig has a friend who lives in North Carolina, which recently passed a bill banning cities from allowing people to use bathrooms designated for the gender they identify as. Rock icon Bruce Springsteen recently canceled a show in that state in protest of the legislation.
Honig hopes one of her signs can be covertly placed in the North Carolina statehouse or another public place as an act of performance art and protest as well.
If the signs also become widely used in states that protect LGBT rights, so much the better, Honig says. “It would be great to have this unbelievable quantity of money to donate to free health clinics and so on.”
Although the “We don’t care” sign has a certain humor, Honig says the much bigger concern is not eroding people’s privacy. “I can’t imagine if I were black in the 1960s, making sure I was going to the right bathroom all day long, how exhausting that must have been. Making people tense when they need to use the bathroom and are already vulnerable doesn’t make sense.”
Adding the tactile Braille lettering accomplishes more than making the signs ADA-compliant, Honig says.
“It becomes very intimate, knowing a blind person would touch it and realize it says ‘We don’t care.’ I love the idea that a blind person can’t see anyway what sex someone is. It speaks very much to love is blind, and gender is blind.”