Personal Business – Why Don’t we Have Comfort for All?
Written by Tia McGrew.
Past To Present.
Throughout the years, we can conclude that a vast majority of teenagers have become more confident in their own identity, as well as the rights they feel like they deserve – more so, with their own sexuality and gender. With such issues being ridiculed immensely in the past, we are now gradually entering into an age where people can be more open about who they are, without fearing the anxieties of being shunned away from society altogether. Despite this , it’s fair to assume that we still lack self-awareness as an entirety, and that these individuals are still fighting even now for basic respect and decency in many departments.
Specifically, one issue that has been brought up to us by Christy Crossen, a student here at NKC, is that those who are genderfluid or non-binary especially feel excluded in the aspect that they do not have their own allocated place to go to the bathroom. I f you do not identify as neither male nor female, which toilet should you use? Essentially, it’s a somewhat lose-lose situation either way, as they are facing the risk of being ridiculed by those who are unsettled by their presence. As such, is there perhaps a way where we can provide a solution for this situation without, to some capacity, making anyone uncomfortable? Should there be genderless toilets available on our campus?
Initially, upon approaching us, Christy had this to say about their proposal on the matter:
“As someone who is non-binary, it was becoming increasingly more stressful to go to the toilet.
As I have female anatomy, it was only ‘right’ to go into the female toilet – however, this became uncomfortable for some women in the toilet, as they didn’t know whether they were in the right toilet or not.” I also did it because it’s not only me who feels like this, and it’s not only me who is non-binary. The college need to be more inclusive of the changing world and that there aren’t two genders anymore. I had to do something about it for me, and all the gender non-conforming people at college.
Personally, an experience that further led me to make this decision was when a Muslim lady walked in as I was washing my hands. I saw her walk in, and then pause as she looked at me. I realized that she thought that she was in the wrong bathroom, and I reassured her that she was in the right one. Not only did this make me uncomfortable, but it made her uncomfortable too. People should feel comfortable regardless of their religion or gender.”
A Potential Solution?
Considering that multiple disabled toilets are never in use, it’s been suggested by Christy that we could potentially turn a selection of these facilities into genderless bathrooms for anybody, regardless of their gender; those who feel as though they do not fit into either category will be able to use this bathroom without feeling any sort of unease or distress.
Furthermore, could this potentially be the suitable option for people who feel too nervous to use the communal toilets available in the college? From the research we conducted, current toilets can feel invasive and too intimidating to some students – those who are socially anxious find it difficult to be able to go on their own accord, primarily due to students turning it into a popular spot to gossip and socialize amongst one another. The implementation of the genderless bathroom could be reassuring, as less of a judgmental and more of an accepting place towards all people. Above all, the approval of this idea could prove to be beneficial for the college. By providing a separate provision, it could provide a haven for many students who typically stick to themselves, are also part of the LGBTQ+ Community, or the transgender spectrum, with a sense of relief.
Through the feedback we gathered, the most of it supported the notion that it would be a positive change for the college, and that it would help them feel more listened to in the grand scheme of things. To respect the identity of the individuals asked about this, for this article, we will be referring to them as such by their first chosen names.
Sam, from Art & Design, had this to say about the matter:
“I think that they would make a lot of people more comfortable, considering how many gender non-conforming and transgender people there are in the college.
Taking these people into consideration, they might not feel comfortable in a bathroom that either opposes their identity or just leaves them surrounded by cisgender people – just because not everyone is going to be completely accepting of their identity. I feel like, I would be more comfortable just knowing that they would only really be used by people who are also gender non-conforming or transgender, which would make me feel less worried about using them, just because it’s always a concern wondering how people will look at you when you enter? If that makes sense.”
Sam also put forward the idea of some of the disabled toilets being granted genderless access: “Even if they just had the disabled toilets temporarily double up as genderless toilets, for the time being, it would be a lot more a comfortable for people who are reluctant to use anything gendered.”
Further Student Opinion.
Additionally, we asked Kaden, who previously attended the college:
“A genderless bathroom would firstly allow for people who feel uncomfortable using either the male or female bathrooms to have a place that they do feel comfortable in, which might seem small but can mean a lot to transgender people.
They would also greatly benefit binary transgender people alongside non-binary people, as a closeted transgender person may feel discomfort at using one bathroom due to dysphoria but does not feel comfortable using the other as they may feel they don’t pass enough, or fear being outed. It’s very important for the college to make sure that transgender people feel as if they can be safe there, as coming out is already an incredibly anxiety inducing process, and being unsure of whether you will be accepted, and if you are in a safe environment, after coming out will only worsen this feeling. This would also help transgender people to speak up about harassment they are experiencing, as this is much harder to do when they feel as if they have little to no allies.”
Therefore, with the recommendation happening to have quite a few supporters, could this help the college become a more welcoming place? Kaden continued, by saying:
“I think gendered bathrooms aren’t currently the norm because people care a lot about privacy. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there are a lot of people who would feel uncomfortable using a gender-neutral bathroom as they feel as if it would invade their privacy. However, I don’t think this point matters when talking about gender neutral bathrooms, because if these people do feel uncomfortable using a gender neutral-bathroom, then they can always just continue to use the gendered bathrooms! Many believe that adding gender neutral bathrooms must include making all of the toilets gender neutral, when in reality, most transgender people would just like to have an option for a bathroom where they feel comfortable.”
To gain more diverse input, we also questioned those who are not part of the community to give their own opinion about the situation, and along with this, if the prospect of a genderless bathroom would make them feel discomfited.
Luke, from Motion Graphs & Animation, gave his input, saying:
“Yes, I think it would be useful, ‘cause some people could be uncomfortable and feel more secure in a genderless bathroom for them. I don’t have any issues with it. Actually, I don’t think it’s hurting or affecting anyone.
I don’t know if they’d face harassment or not, but it really just depends on people and how they take it, because I could see some problems being faced, like teasing for example.”
How would you feel about the prospect of non-binary toilets at the college? Let us know via our socials or in the comments box below.