Adding gender-neutral bathrooms smart step
9/8/2011 3:20 PM
By MELLISSA LINTON - COUNTERPOINT · Daily Trojan
Posted September 1, 2011 (1 week ago) at 7:28 pm in Opinion
When lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender issues are discussed, there’s usually a heavy emphasis on popular topics such as same-sex marriage.
There isn’t, however, enough focus on details. One of which is the challenge many transgender people face when carrying out daily tasks like using the restroom.
USC is home to a number of transgender students, yet few facilities accommodate them. Vincent Vigil, director of the LGBT Resource Center, said in a recent interview with the Daily Trojan that there have been 10 times more transgender students this year who have identified with the center than last year.
With this increase, USC should add more gender-neutral bathrooms to advance these students’ accommodation.
A gender-neutral restroom is a single-stall room that usually bears both the male and the female symbols on the door. To date, 12 USC buildings offer gender-neutral restrooms, yet none are located in a central dormitory location.
The new restroom in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center is a start, but widespread additions are still needed.
USC has been fortunate enough not to have any reported incidents of violence against transsexual students who enter into gender normative restrooms, but violence has been reported in other schools. Documentaries such as Toilet Training outline the discrimination transsexual students face in school settings and uses real stories of transsexuals who have been harassed, beaten or arrested for trying to use the bathroom.
According to a study by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, 500 people reported issues with going to the bathroom in San Francisco alone. This is a real issue that shows real pain and inequality.
Though nothing has happened at USC up to this point, the possibility of violence always exists and the university must take preventative action to keep violence and discrimination from occurring.
Legally speaking, the Americans with Disabilities Act requires at least one solitary restroom for patrons with disabilities in each new building.
Along these same lines, the addition of at least one gender-neutral restroom in each USC building or facility would benefit a wide array of individuals. This includes transgenders, gender non-conforming people or even those who might not feel comfortable using a restroom that classifies them according to gender.
USC has made progress, but it must never settle when there is the possibility for more change. One small step could lead to a variety of benefits; one day we have gender-neutral restrooms, the next we might have gender neutral housing options.
With USC’s inclination to innovate, gender-neutral bathrooms would seem like a small step to a larger movement of advancement.
Above all, the issue calls for empathy among the student body. It’s devastating that such a mundane task such as using the restroom could be potentially dangerous to someone’s physical and mental health.
We often do see the big issue, and in this case, it’s gay rights. But there are still smaller issues affecting groups that go unnoticed. It is time for equality. It is time to deviate from the societal tendency to label a person as male or female and to instead take into consideration that there is a significant population of people who might not identify with either of those gender constructs.
Mellissa Linton is a sophomore majoring in English literature. Her counterpoint runs Fridays.
Here's the link.