LGBTQ Center starting campaign to create gender neutral bathrooms on campus

Could gender neutral bathrooms be in Georgetown’s future? A group of students working with the LGBTQ Center certainly thinks so.

On November 3rd, the group will be scouring campus looking for possible locations for gender neutral bathrooms.  The event’s Facebook description describes the need for trans-friendly accommodations thusly:

Our campus should be accessible and welcoming to all members of our community. There are and will be trans students, faculty, and staff on our campus. Trans issues have historically been marginalized, and conversations on change have been moving slowly toward implementation. GU has historically handled these issues on a person by person bases.

Gender Neutral Bathrooms are an important part of making Georgetown’s campus more trans inclusive and accessible. They are the most straight-forward issue to address (but in no way simple to implement) …

What are gender neutral bathrooms you may ask and why? The drive to ask for this comes from observing violence, harassment, and intimidation that is directed at some people routinely — transgender people especially — when they enter public facilities to undertake a basic human function. Therefore these are bathrooms that can by used by someone with any gender.

According to the Facebook event, participants will meet at the LGBTQ Center and then break off into groups to explore campus buildings.  According to the description, this is just the beginning of the campaign to create gender neutral bathrooms at Georgetown, on the main campus, as well as at the medical and law centers.

Photo by Flickr user Laughing Squid, used under a Creative Commons license.

41 Comments on “LGBTQ Center starting campaign to create gender neutral bathrooms on campus

  1. This is why people hate the creation of things like the LGBTQ Center. What was supposed to be used to counsel students in need, prevent future violence based on sexuality, and provide refuge for those who need some kind of help in this area is now turning into a group that wants to make affirmative, and frankly preposterous, changes to campus.

    You know what trans students need to do? Use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender that they outwardly present, and just use a stall. What is the issue here? Why is a group formed to increase understanding and quell some perceived anti-gay animus now wasting scarce University funds on bathrooms?

    Is Bill McCoy behind this because it seems to dumb, even for him.

  2. I agree. I have no problem with LGBTQ but when it starts forcing the rest of the campus to do something that’s frankly EXTREMELY uncomfortable, then i say they’ve gone too far.

  3. Just a thought: there are a lot of bathrooms on campus. If one of these bathrooms made trans students feel a little more comfortable, I’m not sure why that would be bad. There are hundreds of bathrooms on campus for other students to use if they don’t feel comfortable in a gender-neutral bathroom. It’s just that having one or two of those around might make trans students a little more comfortable here, and thus more likely to come to Georgetown and enhance our community with whatever brilliance we attribute to GU students/ourselves.

  4. People with germophobia, hydrophobia, agoraphobia, and other phobias all have significant emotional qualms with using public toilets. They don’t choose to have these issues, they just have them, and it negatively affects their lives considerably, especially when their problems aren’t understood by others.

    For the backers of gender neutral bathrooms, the question should be asked: why don’t we offer public toilets specifically catered to these minorities too? Neither situation is worse in terms of negative emotional impact. Why are the issues of transgender people more important than those of others?

    This is a precedent that should not be set. And I don’t say that out of animosity or malice. It’s obviously tough to be transgender in this world. But we can’t go around trying to cater to every issue all the time, especially when it’s for such a small minority. We don’t have the money, we don’t have the space, we don’t have the time, and inevitably we’ll still leave someone out.

    And it’s not like transgender people don’t already have an acceptable (not great, but acceptable) existing option of just using a stall.

  5. People who identify as genderqueer might be harassed no matter which bathroom they are in. Having gender-neutral bathrooms available in addition to existing bathrooms is not that difficult. RE: Tim, “Common Sense,” Ben: How is this “dumb” and “uncomfortable”? Would it really affect you that much if there were more gender-neutral bathrooms on campus? You don’t have to use them. But others might appreciate them. It would be a definite improvement that is really not such a big deal to implement.

  6. The problem is not, where to go to the bathroom? It is, what will happen to me when I go to the bathroom?

    Making a mad dash for a stall doesn’t solve this, and the idea that we should hold non gender conforming students responsible for the immaturity, immorality, and hostility of others is what is preposterous here.

  7. Considering Georgetown’s stultifying atmosphere towards LGBTQ students, giving trans students the option of a gender neutral bathroom seems like the least the administration could do. This won’t negatively affect the rest of the student population – and Ben, considering Georgetown’s recent obsession with the Purell dispensers around campus (and ignoring your problematic assertion that mental phobias are on a level playing field with gender identity), I’d say the germophobes don’t have all too much to complain about.

  8. Kelsey,

    Is “genderqueer” really a word? Because if it is, then I’m flabbergasted. Enough with coming up with new words to describe this stuff.

    And it is dumb because if we convert bathrooms to gender-neutral, and I am not comfortable with those, it means that I can then not use that bathroom location. So I’m left to wander around and find another bathroom. All so a transgendered student can avoid getting harassed in the bathroom? Has that ever happened at Georgetown, really? And if such students are harassed in the bathroom, I’d bet they’re harassed elsewhere. Let’s address the harassment and the idiot students who engage in such conduct, not inconvenience everyone and spend money dealing with the physical structure and orientation of bathrooms.

    Frankly, as a male, I don’t care. I’ll use whatever bathroom, but I think A LOT of females would have a problem walking into a bathroom, and there are two dudes standing at the urinal. Or does gender-neutral not have urinals? Why not? That makes me uncomfortable. Anyway…

    ———

    AG,

    The fact that we should hold ANY students responsible for the immaturity, immorality, and hostility of others is preposterous. Why should I be left to find another bathroom just because some clown is mean to a transgender student while in the normal male/female bathrooms? Your own argument proves my point. A few people are idiots. It doesn’t mean we change campus to account for every “mean” thing that someone might do.

  9. Just have a bathroom with a single toilet in it that you can lock behind you. (I.e. like what most homes have) It’s a normal practice in lots of restauraunts and bars. It’s easy and avoids all unnescesary controversy.

  10. Julie

    “Georgetown’s stultifying atmosphere towards LGBTQ students”? First of all, I think that’s nonsense in the first place. There were a few incidents last year. But a “stultifying atmosphere”? Please cite some evidence of this atmosphere you speak of. Please.

    And second, do gay male students really need gender-neutral bathrooms? I’m doubting it. We’re talking about trans-gendered students, not LGBTQ generally. So once we narrow it down to that infinitely small population, show me some “stultifying atmosphere” towards trans-gendered students. Honestly, in four years, I knew of 0 trans-gendered students. That doesn’t mean none existed. It means they existed and no one really noticed or cared. There’s not some sweeping conspiracy against anyone who’s different. And there’s no need to do things like change bathroom arrangements to remedy an “atmosphere” that doesn’t exist.

  11. There are bathrooms like the one on Lau 2 that are accessible for men and women and are private (it’s right in between the male and female stall, and it’s meant for handicapped use, specifically). LBGTQ would have more luck promoting the installation of those bathrooms and not pursue a moniker of “gender neutral.”

    If they pursue it from the other angle I feel they will encounter much more opposition. We cannot cater to every minority group without increasing costs substantially, and Georgetown just doesn’t have those funds right now.

  12. Tim -

    “It means they existed and no one really noticed or cared.”
    It only means you didn’t notice or care. And that’s lovely for you, but your experience isn’t universal.

    Considering how long it took for Georgetown to create an LGBTQ resource center in the first place, when they’ve been at similarly ranked universities for years, the fact that “a few incidents” had to occur to spur its creation, and the nature of Georgetown as a Catholic university all attest to a lack of awareness and hospitality towards LGBTQ students. It’s not a question of what trans students “need” – clearly, it isn’t a requirement for survival that they have gender neutral bathrooms. Rather, it’s a question of what obligations Georgetown has in providing a safe and effective learning environment for its students. You think Georgetown can do that without bathroom? Fine. But I think gender neutral bathrooms are representative of the larger issue, which is the treatment of LGBTQ students overall.

  13. “…the nature of Georgetown as a Catholic university all attest to a lack of awareness and hospitality towards LGBTQ students.”

    I would choose my words carefully here.

  14. As someone pointed out above, there already are single-serving unisex bathrooms. It’s just a single toilet; which has the added benefit of serving handi-capped students as well. There are some in Lauinger, and I’d bet a fair amount more.

    No need to go out and convert more if we already have them.

    And, as others pointed out, there are a limited number of bathrooms on campus. And there are a very limited number of transgender students (does anyone have any firm numbers, or a reasonable ballpark figure? 10? 20?). If we convert an entire bathroom (multiple stalls / urinals) into these ‘gender-neutral’ bathrooms, you run the risk of having awkward encounters as both men and women use the bathroom simultaneously.

    And if the result is that men and women stop using it, it will only be for the very, very limited number of transgendered students on campus. So you take several whole bathrooms and essentially put them ‘off use’.

    I don’t mind converting single-stall bathrooms into unisex bathrooms (can’t we call it that instead of gender-neutral? G-N sounds like such a needlessly PC term), as most already are, but no need to go around taking up valuable space for a service that will be hardly used when the demand is so high otherwise.

  15. Tim:

    Yes, genderqueer is a word.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genderqueer

    “And second, do gay male students really need gender-neutral bathrooms? I’m doubting it. We’re talking about trans-gendered students, not LGBTQ generally.”

    LGBTQ = Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer. So “LGBTQ generally” does, in fact, include trans people. Just FYI. Not all LGBTQ people are gay males.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT

    Pat:

    Single-stall bathrooms are actually what we’re talking about.

  16. There’s another single, unisex, handicapped bathroom on the 3rd floor of ICC by the elevators.

  17. I would love to have all bathrooms be unisex so the chicks can appreciate how clean their bathrooms are.

  18. Excuse me, where is the bathroom for dolphins at Georgetown?

  19. Is this banter actually happening? There is no problem with this initiative. A single stall bathroom that is gender neutral increases toilets for everyone! Why so negative? Do you know what it is like to be an LBGTQ? Let it go!

  20. As a person who is transgender, I object to the idea of special facilities to “make trans people feel more comfortable.” It reinforces several wrong ideas:

    - that trans people are somehow different from “normal” people, that trans men aren’t really men, and that trans women aren’t really women,

    - that we require special facilities, and therefore additional expense and inconvenience to others, and

    - we should hide ourselves away so that we don’t upset non-trans people, that non-trans people are justified in their phobias, fears, and discomfort around trans people, and that the “problem” is trans people, not the attitudes of non-trans people.

    That said, any single-user lockable restroom should be gender neutral. That just makes it available to everyone, which is better for us all.

  21. If we’re talking about single-stall bathrooms…. they should be unisex (gender neutral) by default.

    This seems like a non-issue. Is anyone advocating for sex-specific single-stall bathrooms? It hurts everyone. Are there any single-sex single-stall bathrooms on campus?

    This seems like a needless publicity crusade.

  22. Re: Re: Kelsey

    There should be more gender-neutral single-stall bathrooms on campus. What is the problem with that? How are you offended by having more bathrooms?

  23. “There should be more gender-neutral single-stall bathrooms on campus. What is the problem with that? How are you offended by having more bathrooms?”

    I’m not a civil engineer (nor do I think you are either), so I could be wrong, but having a tremendous amount of single-stall bathrooms is wholly inefficient. They take up more space and serve less people than a normal bathroom.

    That being said, they are necessary by law to serve the handicapped community and if an ancillary benefit is that they help the trans-community, then that is fine. But there’s no need to install new, inefficient bathrooms when the biggest crunch on campus is the lack of student space.

  24. Let’s get a grip here. For a variety of reasons, it is difficult to determine how many individuals in the U.S. are transgender; however, some commonly accepted estimates put that population at somewhere between .25% – 1.0% of the whole. Among Georgetown’s undergraduate/graduate and professional campuses there are just under 15,000 students (I don’t know how many faculty and staff). Assuming that the population at Georgetown reflects the population as whole (‘though it probably does not) that would mean there are somewhere between 37 and 148 transgender students in various proportions among the three campuses. Split the difference, and we’re talking about perhaps 92 individuals out of almost 15,000—or use the upper number of 148 to perhaps include faculty and staff. Maybe 100 on the main campus and 48 split between medicine and law?

    For this we need a crusade for “gender neutral” bathrooms? Puhleese! My guess is that all “single toilet” bathrooms on campus are already “gender neutral,” just not “signed” with those specific words. Ensure that all “single toilet” bathrooms are signed as “Restroom” with the male/female universal designation displayed in the picture in this article (likely they already are, or are just designated as “Restroom” and surely are used by both men and women).

    Stick a fork in this issue; it’s done!

  25. Why are proponents of this idea lumping the entire category of LGBTQ into their argument? That’s counter-productive to proving their point

  26. Gtownex- “Excuse me, where is the bathroom for dolphins at Georgetown?”

    It that supposed to be funny? Are you seriously implying that asking for gender neutral bathrooms for transgender people is the same as asking for bathrooms for dolphins?

    Is it just me, or are the bloggers on Vox Populi representative of the most ignorant and hateful people on campus? The majority of you guys clearly have no understanding of LGBTQ issues. That’s fine. But the way that some of you grossly oversimplify the issues that transgender people in particular face and act as though you actually have any idea what you’re talking about is grossly offensive.

  27. What did you expect, brah? Georgetown sucks.

  28. @ .

    The dolphin comment is a reference to a South Park episode that mocks people’s willingness to have unnecessary cosmetic surgeries.

    Now please explain what’s so complicated about this. If the article is oversimplified, then tell us what it is missing. Otherwise, you sound like you’re just trying to over-complicate an issue because you don’t like the fact that a huge majority of people don’t agree with your excessively PC solution to a non-issue (single-gender bathrooms).

  29. I would like to say I have no problem whatsoever, and am friends with several LGBTQ’s and gender neutral bathrooms me uncomfortable precisely because of this:

    I do NOT feel comfortable whatsoever taking a nasty dump in a stall beside a cute girl.

    Thank you.

  30. “Excuse me, where is the bathroom for dolphins at Georgetown?”
    That’s hillarious.

    We need to stop this abuse of particularistic rights.

  31. Enough is enough of this LGBTQ experiment.
    It has clearly been hijacked to advance the gay agenda instead of serving to psychologically and spiritually counsel members of our community.

  32. Oh hey everyone! Guess what! In the District of Columbia, ANY AND ALL single-stall restrooms must, LEGALLY, be gender neutral. According to DC law, there can be no “male” or “female” designations on single-stall bathrooms, because if you’re going to the bathroom alone anyway, there is no need to designate those spaces (no need, Tom, to worry about a cute girl hearing you take a dump, or a cute girl ripping a huge one next to you!).

    The people doing the gender-neutral bathrooms campaign are not advocating for multi-stalled gender-neutral bathrooms. They are going around campus to make sure that the single-stalled bathrooms that already exist on campus are marked correctly and legally (which many of them are not – there are several single-stall bathrooms on campus that do have sex/gender designations…which is illegal…and it does unnecessarily alienate anyone who doesn’t identify with a male/female binary).

    It never ceases to amaze me how unwilling Georgetown students and blog readers are to actually educate themselves before they start acting like they know what they’re talking about.

  33. Thank God we have you around to educate us. How about the trans students educate themselves about the fact that OBVIOUSLY, a single stall bathroom is gender neutral. I used to use the third floor Leavey single stall all the time, and despite the lack of signage never once questioned whether it was “OK.” If there’s no sign, and it’s a toilet, just use the damn thing. Do we really need signs?

  34. Yo Tim.

    “Please cite some evidence of this atmosphere you speak of. Please.”
    We all know about the particular incident which stirred some controversy up in here. What everyone isnt so familiar with, though, is the every day acts of violence against our community. Feeling violently threatened as a lesbian with her girlfriend, for example, by a group of men whistling/thrusting/commenting at them. This is a pretty threatening environment.
    I could go on and on citing specific acts that create an unwelcoming environment, but I just frankly dont want to spend my time on that when I (and so many others) must live those experiences every day. If you want to know about our experiences, educate yourself – ask questions, read books, join groups, become an ally.

  35. Humph,

    (I am asking questions. You just answered one of them in your response. I’ll go on.)

    When does this violent thrusting at lesbians happen on campus? Is it perpetrated by Georgetown students? Is it really all that common, or even an occasional occurrence? Or are we talking about a few isolated incidents?

    Look, I’m not saying no one ever harasses LGBTQ students. And even one such act of harassment is one too many. But after 4 years at that school and having never once seen what you’re talking about, I just don’t believe that it is so common as to turn Georgetown as a whole into an entirely anti-LGBTQ atmosphere.

  36. “When does this violent thrusting at lesbians happen on campus? Is it perpetrated by Georgetown students? Is it really all that common, or even an occasional occurrence? Or are we talking about a few isolated incidents?”

    Yes Tim, this stuff is quite common. And yes, with Georgetown students. I think the only people who would know this would be the LGBTQ people who have lived it. Why are you so focused on arguing with people about their very personal experiences? These things do happen, and they are not isolated incidents.

    “after 4 years at that school and having never once seen what you’re talking about”

    If you’re not LGBTQ, of course you haven’t seen it. Those people who don’t live it tend not to notice. It’s something you probably have to experience to understand.

  37. I’m not gay, but I’ve seen this kind of harassment happen. Some time last week, there were two lesbians (I’m just assuming this, I didn’t know these people) walking down the sidewalk at night holding hands. About 20 paces behind them, two dudes were walking together and discussing whether or not they could convince the two hot girls ahead to make out in front of them. Were the two girls directly confronted? No. Did they even know what was going on behind them? Probably not. What matters is the fact that people think this way, that people think that these kinds of comments are okay, that people think that all lesbians are porno material and all gay guys all wear pink and sing show tunes.

    Sure, maybe Georgetown doesn’t have the money to create more single-stall, gender-neutral bathrooms to appease the (small-ish) trans and handicapped communities. What all these people are getting upset about is YOUR reaction to their demands for equal treatment, Georgetown. So instead of continuing to insult them, how about listening to them for a change? You give them enough bs to deal with in their daily lives.

    I think university funds would be better spent educating people to appreciate others as human beings. Then maybe trans people could use the bathroom without being afraid of idiots who call them out for walking through the wrong door to take a leak.

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  40. what’s all the fuss? i don’t see a problem with gender-neutral stalls. not only do these single-unit restrooms serve the lgbtq community, non-lgbtq can use them as well, and overall there’s a benefit to all parties involved. no big deal.

  41. This doesn’t seem very green to me. Urinals use less water and paper resources than single-stall toilets. Why do we all have to have gender neutral toilet stalls?

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