When it comes to relieving ourselves on campus, there are plenty of options for individuals who identify as women. There are plenty of options for individuals who identify as men. There are no options for individuals who do not identify with this prescriptive gender binary. Everyone deserves options when it comes to bathroom access.
The university is forcing a dangerous situation on queer and gender non-conforming students by not offering gender inclusive bathrooms. For example, the bathroom binary puts students at risk of gender identity-related harassment and violence. The current limited options mean that many students are constantly at risk of being outed to their peers. No gender inclusive bathroom options on campus means that many students are forced into uncomfortable situations on a daily basis.
We need more options when it comes to bathrooms, so let’s start with the Study Cube.
The Study Cube has one bathroom on each floor. Each is for individual use only and has one toilet and one sink. Other than their locations on different floors, there is nothing that distinguishes the two — nothing, that is, except that one is labeled for women and one for men.
In addition to being arbitrarily gendered, both of the bathrooms in the Cube are very visible. Anyone sitting against the south wall in the building can see people entering and leaving.
As I have discussed in a previous article, walking into a gendered bathroom is a public display of gender identity. I walk into the girls’ bathroom because I identify as a girl. Gendered bathrooms have nothing to do with physical sex, but rather with gender identity. All bathrooms offer at least some privacy because of stalls, rendering a person’s sex even more irrelevant to their toilet use.
Currently, students studying late at night in the Cube who do not feel comfortable publicly performing gender in front of their peers as either “man” or “woman” have two options when it comes time to relieve themselves. They can either walk into a situation that will make them extremely uncomfortable, or go home.
CSU student Nicolas Delgado started a Change.org petition to make the bathrooms in the Cube gender inclusive, which is an excellent idea. Since the bathrooms were already constructed for individual use only, the process of de-gendering their existence would be extremely simple: it would consist of removing two signs. No plumbing, no architecture, no other changes are necessary.
Delgado argues that, “having these restrooms re-assigned as “Gender Inclusive” would create higher restroom accessibility for CSU students along with creating a safe space for individuals that do not identify with the gender binary.”
It is discriminatory that queer and non-binary-conforming CSU students who pay the same student fees as everyone else on campus should not have equal and fair access to one of the most essential parts of the Study Cube — the bathroom.
Gender inclusive bathrooms are not a novel idea: many campuses across the country have already taken initiatives to make bathrooms gender inclusive.
Last summer I spent a weekend at a workshop at Hunter College in New York. The building had three bathroom options: women’s, men’s and gender neutral. All of the bathrooms were multi-stall, all of them were the same, and all of them were utilized without problems.
A few weeks ago, I went to a conference at CU Boulder and used their campus’s gender inclusive bathroom option. The gender inclusive option at CU consists of just one open space for everyone where the sinks are located, then each individual stall has floor to ceiling doors that offer complete privacy. Again, no problems.
Even non-university schools are taking action when it comes to offering nondiscriminatory and gender inclusive bathroom options. Grant High School in Portland, Oregon recently made national headlines for reclassifying six of their bathrooms as gender neutral.
That’s the thing about gender inclusive bathrooms — they do not cost more money. They do not require additional construction. All that they require is a change in signage.
There is no reason for any CSU student to feel uncomfortable about using the bathroom on campus. The university needs to take the very easy step of reclassifying the bathrooms in the Study Cube. In future construction projects — like the Student Center — CSU needs to include gender inclusive bathroom options so that this does not continue to be an issue for future Rams.
CSU students are here and they’re queer — and they have to pee.
Tyanna Slobe is a senior English Language and spanish double major. Her column appears every Tuesday in the Collegian. Letters and Feedback can be sent to email@example.com.