The fight for more gender-neutral facilities on campus won a small victory March 30 when the on-campus coffee shop, The Daily Grind, installed the campus’s first bathrooms labeled gender neutral.
Other locations across campus already have single occupancy bathrooms, but these are the first two to ever be specified as “gender neutral.” Signs now label the bathrooms.
Employees Moira Pelton-Owen, Laura Andrew ’12 and Charlotte Davis ’10 put up the new gender-neutral signs over old “Male” and “Female” signs after Daily Grind manager and owner Scott Owen had the change approved by the College.
“Bathrooms are typically identified as male or female, and if someone doesn’t identify as male or female, they are still forced to make a decision in order to use the bathroom,” Andrew said. “If you don’t fit into society’s normative description of gender you still have to decide and that makes you conform with society’s depictions of gender.”
Gender neutral is defined as those who do not conform to a gender binary, whether as transgender, intersex or gender-nonconformist.
“By saying gender neutral, we’re saying that gender shouldn’t have to be a choice in a single occupancy bathroom,” Andrew said. “When you take away the gender of a single occupancy bathroom it takes away the violence that goes away with a gendered bathroom.”
Owens had the changes approved by the administration first.
“It’s more the students’s building, not mine. It definitely wasn’t an issue of facilities, and it seemed to be more of an issue with the students than us,” Owens said.
The change was both political and practical for some students.
“To be honest, I didn’t really notice it because I used all bathrooms all the time. They are making a statement, but I think it’s more out of practicality than anything,” Daily Grind regular Katherine Fegely ’14 said.
While this is the first bathroom on campus labeled gender neutral, Andrew hopes to see more in coming years.
“Ideally, I would like to see all the bathrooms that are single occupancy marked as gender neutral and to see at least one on every building on campus. For example, the new fraternity complex they’re building on campus could have gender neutral bathrooms,” Andrew said.