Striving for Equality

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    Illustration by Leigh Douglas

    While many of us take going to the bathroom for granted, transgender or gender variant students face harassment, violence, and discrimination for something as daily as going to the bathroom. The Cantú Queer Center is at the forefront of ongoing developments to ensure all students have access to a safe and private bathroom. The movement toward gender-neutral bathrooms seeks to resolve any issues that current bathroom policies introduce.

    While there are numerous gender-neutral bathrooms currently located on campus, Ellie Brown, who is an intern at the Cantú Queer Center, is currently seeking to increase the number of them.

    “We’re trying to have equal access so you don’t have to hike across campus to just go to the restroom,” Brown said.

    There are around 14 single-stalled bathrooms on campus that can be easily converted from gender-coded bathrooms into gender-neutral ones, Brown said. It would cost approximately $1,400 to complete the project and she is currently searching for funding. The bathrooms will be Americans with Disabilities Act compliant, in line with the Standards for Accessible Design and are ensured to be serviceable to all students.

    Besides ensuring accessibility, safety and privacy, gender-neutral bathrooms address other potentially overlooked issues.

    “It’s not only a safety issue, it’s a personal health issue,” Brown said. “A lot of trans people end up getting bladder infections. They don’t want to go to a gendered bathroom because it doesn’t represent who they are. They don’t want to do that but they also have no other options so they just hold it in until they get to a safe place. Sometimes that is a long time from when they have to go to the bathroom or it can be a great distance away.”

    The Cantú Queer Center hopes to make many more gender-neutral bathrooms available in the immediate future. For those who wish to access those that are currently available, The Cantú Queer Center’s website offers a campus map of all gender-neutral bathrooms to help students locate them.