Let’s Keep Talking about Gender-Neutral Washrooms

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…because clearly we need to. Last issue, an article containing two opposing views about the gender-neutral washrooms was published. It was taken down at the request of the students, but that does not mean this conversation is over.

I want to make some points of clarity in response to the segment of the article that was against the presence of these washrooms. First and most importantly, transphobia and the harmful ways that society treats transgender and gender non-conforming individuals is not “historical;” it is present, it is now, and within that article, it is here.

The second point of clarity is that not all cis women have an issue with gender-neutral washrooms. More importantly though, is that we shouldn’t. We have had the privilege of using a washroom that was designed for us and that welcomed us in nearly every public space we have existed in. If the issue is that a gender-neutral washroom is focused on the needs of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals instead of us, that is because it needs to be.

It was argued that perhaps it is important to regard everyone’s feelings about the washrooms, not just those they oppress. If changing the language of the washroom from being about gender to “universal” or “for everyone” would ease the concern that not everyone’s feelings are regarded, naming the spaces as “for everyone” may help. If we do in fact care about “everyone” then we should welcome “everyone” into any and every space possible.

Perhaps if all washrooms on campus were gender-neutral or universal we might begin to become comfortable with this radical idea of creating spaces that welcome all people regardless of identity.

The final point of clarity is in regards to the suggestion that urinating makes females vulnerable. I’d suggest that this act might make all people feel vulnerable or uncomfortable in one way or another, and perhaps folks who are already vulnerable as transgender or gender non-conforming are doubly vulnerable because they must urinate in spaces where they are not welcome.

I think open conversation about controversial issues is important, but we must also avoid speaking so selfishly about issues like this. Take a moment to be grateful if you are a cis person for the access you have to campus spaces that are so gendered and exclusive before trying to take away one single space that functions to welcome all students regardless of identity.