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Universities head the call for Genderless washrooms

Hawk Eye

TRIBE Member
Universities heed the call for genderless washrooms

Move is in response to students who say they don't belong exclusively to either sex

By CAROLINE ALPHONSO
EDUCATION REPORTER
Tuesday, February 10, 2004 - Page A3



There are washrooms for men and washrooms for women. And, coming soon to a university campus near you will be washrooms for those who don't limit themselves to either category.

Under a new initiative to provide equitable services, student unions of at least two Canadian universities -- Concordia and Simon Fraser -- are in talks with their administrations about where to build special washrooms this fall for the transgender population on campus. And at McGill University, a gender-neutral washroom is being designed for the first floor of the student centre. Renovations to the building are expected to be completed by the end of the academic year.

"To many, access is narrowly defined as a wheelchair ramp and a wheelchair-accessible toilet within a gender-segregated washroom. This definition of access simply does not reflect the reality for many students on this campus," said Brianna Hersey, a vice-president at the Students' Society of McGill University in Montreal.

Gone would be the pictogram on the door, replaced by the word "washroom." And instead of a handful of stalls, it would be a single-unit washroom.

It's rare, but not impossible to find single-room washrooms, in small restaurants, for example. But student unions say they have felt increased pressure from transgender students to build specific gender-neutral washrooms on university grounds. Being transgender is defined as having personal characteristics that go beyond traditional gender boundaries and sexual norms. Some transgender people may have undergone surgery to become a member of the opposite sex.

"There's enough of a need that we even have the Transgender Alliance, which is a group on our campus that does advocacy work, and runs workshops," said Brianna, who is a gender-variant student, not committed to a specific gender. The Transgender Alliance has about 15 members, Brianna said. (Some members of the transgender community choose not to use honorifics with their names.)

Younger people tend to embrace change, and university campuses are usually where new ideas, such as gender-neutral washrooms, can take root, said Barbara Warren of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center in New York. "I think it's absolutely fabulous," she said. "They're creating a safe place for trans-people."

At McGill, the first-floor of the new student centre building will have a washroom for transgender students to use with "ease and dignity," Brianna said. It's also for disabled students and parents with babies.

The Transgender Alliance and Queer McGill were among the groups who appealed for these facilities.

But not all students are welcoming the idea.

At Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., one student complained to the student newspaper, The Peak, that gender-neutral washrooms are a waste of university funds, especially when tuition fees are going up significantly in the province.

"It is moronic ideas like that that raise tuition, ladies, gentleman and everything in between. The university has far better things to do with its money than make sure that transgender people have a warm and happy place to go . . .," the student wrote in a letter to the editor.

Not so, said Louis Julig, a transgender student and the internal relations officer at the Simon Fraser Student Society. The costs would be minimal because the university would have to pay only to put locks on the main doors of a washroom and change the signs outside, he said.

The university's human rights co-ordinator is working with the student government to determine how many washrooms would need to be changed on campus to make it more trans-friendly. One residence on campus already has gender-neutral washrooms, Louis said. But the ones around campus wouldn't be as large.

The idea came about after a student asked where someone would go to the bathroom if they didn't fit into either gender category. "We realized there was nowhere. SFU has the duty to accommodate undue hardship," said Louis, who said he feels uncomfortable using a gender-specific washroom.

How large is the transgender population at Simon Fraser? "It doesn't really matter," Louis said. "If there was one student this would be necessary. It's a public service that should be provided to all students."

Brent Farrington, a student union vice-president at Concordia University in Montreal, said the seventh floor of a building is being renovated for student clubs, and the union is putting together a proposal for a gender-neutral washroom for transgender students.

I guess it's not surprising having transgender washrooms now with the world we live in right?
I got this email through the president of my student government as i am on the board of directors as well.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20040210/WASHROOMS10/TPEducation/
 
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futronic

TRIBE Member
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Finally! A solution to the ultimate question!

-- Jay aka Fut
 

lucky1

TRIBE Member
NO offence guys but I avoid those gender "neutral" bathrooms becuse the guys who use them piss all around the seat and miss the toilet and stuff completely. Geez. And I hate having to touch the seat to put it down again. Gross.
 

tayo

TRIBE Member
How can they justify needing a special washroom? Handicapped people need washrooms that can accomodate wheelchairs, what kind of 'special needs' would a transgendered person have?
If it's a modesty issue, can't they just use a stall, like everyone else with a modesty issue?

I consider myself very liberal but considering the tight budgets under which most universities operate, this seems like a frivolous expense.
 
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Dr Funk MD

TRIBE Promoter
Originally posted by Day Dream
it would be a good place for a after-lunch quicky, since boys and girls are allowed ;)
I was thinking the same thing, like university kids need ANOTHER place to have sex.
 

labRat

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by lucky1
NO offence guys but I avoid those gender "neutral" bathrooms becuse the guys who use them piss all around the seat and miss the toilet and stuff completely. Geez. And I hate having to touch the seat to put it down again. Gross.
women's washrooms are usually far worse overall. or so i've heard. not that i've ever used a peeping hole. ever.
 

lucky1

TRIBE Member
No I'd have to disagree. Ever been to three day and there is that once port potty that only women have been useing all night? This porta potty will be the cleanest one there with out a doubt.
 
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Booty Bits

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by tayo
How can they justify needing a special washroom? Handicapped people need washrooms that can accomodate wheelchairs, what kind of 'special needs' would a transgendered person have?
If it's a modesty issue, can't they just use a stall, like everyone else with a modesty issue?

I consider myself very liberal but considering the tight budgets under which most universities operate, this seems like a frivolous expense.

its probably more of an issue for someone who, lets say, is physically a female, but identifies as male, and thus has taken on many of the outward characteristics of a man, and would then cause a big commotion going into the "ladies room".
i actually know someone this has happened to.
 

emiwee

TRIBE Member
I think that the issue is not simply about bathrooms. It's about understanding that gender is neither a binary (and society is defined by a number of binaries that I believe we should move away from) nor an essential category to which one must be tied for life. Gender is more of a continuum, a social construct, and for many people not a pigeon-holing system.
For some women (although not this one), I'm sure going into the man's washroom is uncomfortable (and certainly frowned upon by many people). So how can you expect that someone who does not identify with one particular gender to feel comfortable? Why should they just have to 'fit' into one or the other?

I'm totally for genderless washrooms. As long as everyone tries to maintain some semblance of cleanliness in them. :)
 

janiecakes

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Booty Bits

i actually know someone this has happened to.

I know a bunch of people this has happened to.

To all the people rolling their eyes, what negative impact would genderless washrooms have on your lives? None. So who cares?
 

diablo

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by janiecakes
To all the people rolling their eyes, what negative impact would genderless washrooms have on your lives? None. So who cares?

If I was still a student, I'd think it was a colossal waste of my tuition money. They do have toilet stalls, after all.

It's one thing to have just one washroom that everyone uses. It's another to build a special washroom for queers.
 

tayo

TRIBE Member
Yeah I guess it's a difficult issue. My point was, since every washroom has stalls, transgendered people don't have special physical needs that would require the construction of a separate washroom.
If various interest groups are going to start demanding their own washroom facilities based solely on a psychological aversion to those unlike themselves, then what would prevent members of minority races and religions from demanding their own washrooms?
 
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emiwee

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by diablo
If I was still a student, I'd think it was a colossal waste of my tuition money. They do have toilet stalls, after all.

It's one thing to have just one washroom that everyone uses. It's another to build a special washroom for queers.

Universities waste colossal amounts of money on a number of things already... none of them nearly as useful as washrooms.
 

diablo

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by tayo
If various interest groups are going to start demanding their own washroom facilities based solely on a psychological aversion to those unlike themselves, then what would prevent members of minority races and religions from demanding their own washrooms?

Muslim women's washroom

Muslim men's washroom

Fat people's washroom

Short people's washroom

Washroom for those who fart loudly




:rolleyes:
 

diablo

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by emiwee
Universities waste colossal amounts of money on a number of things already... none of them nearly as useful as washrooms.

I wouldn't be crazy about those, either.
 

emiwee

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by tayo
Yeah I guess it's a difficult issue. My point was, since every washroom has stalls, transgendered people don't have special physical needs that would require the construction of a separate washroom.
If various interest groups are going to start demanding their own washroom facilities based solely on a psychological aversion to those unlike themselves, then what would prevent members of minority races and religions from demanding their own washrooms?

I don't think it has anything to do with privacy (i.e., private stalls). It just has to do with having to define oneself as either 'male' or 'female' ('man' or 'woman') in order to enter into the 'correct' door.

It's not an 'interest group' issue... and why does everyone have to think that one change necessarily leads to a 'slippery slope' effect?
 

Booty Bits

TRIBE Member
tayo, you missed the crux of the issue with the comparison you drew.
its not that every interest group should piss in privacy. its that currently, bathrooms are divided along gender lines, and that line is a blurry one for alot of people.
 
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