Campus potty now gender free

Erin Wethern and Erin Wethern

Imagine having to use a public restroom and not feeling comfortable going into either the men’s’ room or the women’s’ room. Of the estimated five percent of the population that have gender identities or expressions which place them into the Transgender population, many often face awkward decisions when they need to relieve themselves. This includes cross-dressers, transsexuals, transgenderists, drag queens, drag kings and gender queers, according to

After much uproar from various organizations and individuals on campus, the University has finally listened to the pleas of left-leaning groups like Vision and Transcendence. Gender-neutral restrooms are now being implemented across campus. These restrooms are single stalled and have a locking outside door. Anyone is free to use them.

The first loo of this nature recently opened in East Hall. It replaced the former men’s room on the first floor. The conversion of this particular restroom was quick and relatively painless, according to Joelle Ruby Ryan, president and founder of Transcendence. The room had one stall, one urinal, and a locking outside door, it seemed like a natural choice for the conversion. No construction was needed; the only difference is the new sign on the door, sporting the symbols for both male and female.

Transcendence, the transgender and transsexual group on campus, has been the most vocal group to lobby for gender neutral restrooms. Transcendence was formed in the fall of 2005 but was not the first organization to support this cause. In years past, Vision, the University’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (GLBTQ) organization, also lobbied to get these restrooms on campus. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Tansgender (LGBT) task force has also contributed to making restrooms more friendly for everyone.

While Transcendence has done most of the lobbying for these restrooms, they are not exclusively for transgender people. Anyone who wants to pee in peace is free to use them. They are also handicap-accessible.

Although the East Hall facility is certainly a victory, the battle is far from over, according to these activist groups. Hopefully, the Union will be the next building to host a gender-free facility. In buildings that have single stalled facilities with a locking door, the conversion involves nothing more than changing the sign on the door.

However, many newer buildings have restrooms with multiple stalls. In this case, converting a larger restroom may waste resources, as the restrooms could be underused.

The local Transgender community feels it is important to have gender neutral restrooms on campus for several reasons. They promote a feeling of tolerance towards all people, regardless of their gender identity. Furthermore, public restrooms can be a scary place for transgendered individuals, according to Ryan. “[Trans and gender-variant people face harassment ranging from] points, stares and abusive comments all the way to physical attacks, rapes and arrest by police officers,” she said.