7 thoughts on “Gender Neutral Bathrooms

  1. I’m a fan of gender neutral bathrooms, but what worries me is accessibility. There are at least two issues with accessibility: 1) some trans* people have disabilities, and nearly everyone forgets about them! 2) How convenient are these bathrooms? Often they’re tucked away, or in another building.

    What’s the university’s overall policy on gender and bathrooms? Is it coupled with a good policy like: “People should use the bathroom consistent with their gender”? If not, then the gender neutral bathroom is nearly the “loo of shame,” since there’s going to be a stigma attached with having a strong preference for that bathroom. It would also connote a “Separate but equal” policy, which is unfair.

    Of course, these are just worries: maybe the university has awesome bathroom policies.

  2. It has been a long time since I have lived in dorms and I don’t know the first thing about Pomona College. But such a sign at most colleges would probably indicate that this is a male-gendered dorm floor and the gender-neutral restroom exists primarily for women who are guests of the men on the floor.

    That’s how such a sign would have been read at my own undergraduate university, anyway. Maybe things are different at Pomona.

  3. My (small, private, US) university recently made a policy change: all single-stall bathrooms (which are now most common in our smallish new academic buildings) are named “universal” bathrooms. They are designed to be universally accessible and open to any and all genders. Which is to say: they’re designed for humans. There are still difficulties with the signage (which includes the allegedly male/female stick figures, plus the wheelchair figure, which symbolically degenders individuals with the kind of disabilities that involve the use of wheelchairs), but still, it’s a huge step forward. Obviously, it’s easier to make such a step when you’re dealing with single-stall bathrooms.

  4. Many trans persons find using shared gender-designated bathrooms to be a difficult and stressful experience, in which they are subject to abuse or the threat of abuse. These trans persons often desire gender neutral bathrooms (which are, I believe, usually single-person bathrooms and not Ally McBeal -style). It’s a step of taking requests from trans students seriously to have some gender neutral bathrooms on campus. And signs like this are a further excellent step — making it easier to find such bathrooms. So this seems great to me.
    I do agree there may be concerns about access.

  5. Woohoo! I went to one of the other Claremont Colleges and I remember when the trans students & allies were pushing for gender neutral bathrooms. The student body was semi-apathetic but supportive, whereas it was the administration that was actually really hostile to the idea. I’m really happy to see that progress is being made. Thanks for posting this–never would have seen otherwise!

    @Matt Drabek: Since I do know Pomona, I’m happy to say this is actually in the campus’ main social building not in any of the dorms. So, it actually is a conscious step towards a genuinely neutral space and not just an accommodation for visiting women.

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