Imagine, if you will, a very casual, almost sexy atmosphere, where there are no stalls, per se, only open toilets close enough for members of the opposite sex to give each other high-fives when they pee!
The common misconception that the push for gender-neutral bathrooms is all about creating such an atmosphere is absolutely ridiculous. What UFV truly needs, is several single-stalled bathrooms that don’t require membership of a particular gender to permit entrance.
Yes, most gender-neutral bathrooms are single-stalled, like the ones often labelled with a handicap logo. These bathrooms give students and faculty who might otherwise be judged, verbally threatened, or otherwise attacked for entering a bathroom, an option to go somewhere safe when nature calls.
Anecdotal and research evidence have shown that transgendered people risk facing verbal or physical assault, being questioned, or even arrested by the police any time they enter a gender-specific bathroom. Transgender is a term applied to anyone who doesn’t fit directly into our culture’s prescribed two-gender system. Gender-neutral bathrooms are for males, females, transgendered and anyone else who has to go.
UFV restrooms are designed to support the current dominant ideology, rather than to support all of the types of people who must share them. That is to say, each user of a UFV bathroom is forced to choose between a sexual dichotomy regarding their identity: male or female. This forced division between the idea of man and woman can cause discomfort, fear, discrimination, embarrassment, and sometimes even violence.
Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who feel uncomfortable in gendered bathrooms, not the least of whom is an individual who associates as gay or lesbian. While they may not be transgendered, they can also be at risk of assault simply for entering a bathroom. Some people may not associate as transgender but have certain features that lead to teasing or insults as soon as they enter such a gendered-space. If you don’t already know what that is like, try to imagine being worried for your personal safety each and every time you have ever felt the urge to use the restroom at school.
Single-user, gender-neutral bathrooms make all the difference. UFV has some single-user bathrooms, but unfortunately, they are not gender-neutral. UFV would be protecting their students’ rights by ensuring that at least one restroom in each building on campus is clearly labelled gender-neutral. UFV should make a commitment to this goal as soon as possible. While the University may not realize it, their current facilities are making a statement about how they believe transgendered individuals should be treated.
Almost all equality-based movements that have taken place in the past 100 years in North America, such as the civil rights, feminist rights, and disability rights movements, have included a fight for adequate bathrooms as part of their overall agenda.
Considering UFV claims to value its position as a leader in important issues, such as environmentalism, they should put serious stock into the rights of those who suffer from the problems our gendered-washrooms create. Most people don’t even make the connection that our bathrooms could cause problems. But for the people it does, simply putting different signs on some of the bathroom doors on campus could make an incredible difference.