DIY Bathroom De-Gendering Spreading at Colleges

Posted: Dec 27, 2013 12:00 PM

Students at Wesleyan University followed the lead of students at Brown University to relabel traditional bathrooms as gender neutral. A Slate writer defended the move, describing bathrooms as a "social construct" and personal comfort as a "privilege."

The relabeling campaign is easy to organize: only a handful of activists are needed to obtain some signs for free and then relabel bathrooms on their own.

It is important to note that some places in America now require gender-neutral bathrooms, including Philadelphia and a county in Oregon. However, these locales have not replaced traditional bathrooms but have rather added a third, gender-neutral option.

Those initiatives do not go far enough, according to Slate writer Izzy Rode. Although the author is only an intern, her (Rode describes herself as "female-bodied yet androgynous," so it is unclear what pronouns would be appropriate) piece defending gender-neutral bathrooms is one of only two pieces the Slate editors have chosen to publish (along with a piece arguing that monogamous marriage and families should not be encouraged).

Rode clearly sides with the students at Brown and Wesleyan, who want to eliminate all gendered spaces. If the ordinary channels of advocacy do not bend to the will of this minority, then the activists may turn to vandalism and destruction of school property. The Wesleyan campaign openly shares its extreme objectives in an interview with campus media. Highlights include:

Do you want to eliminate all gendered bathrooms, or just have a more even distribution of gender-neutral vs. gendered bathrooms?

P: Because binary-gendered bathrooms exclude by decree and become dangerous/inaccessible spaces for trans*/gender-non-conforming people, yes, the elimination of all gender-segregated spaces on campus is necessary. There is no reason that trans*/gender-non-conforming people should put up with cisgender supremacist coding of “public” spaces.

Would you be willing to discuss permanently changing bathrooms to all-gender bathrooms with the administration, or do you view them as a lost cause?

P: Yes – in fact, we are talking to various administrators already. But I do know that we’re not going to wait for the glacial pace of policy and law reform to claim safe space bathrooms all across campus.

P: A friend of mine put it this way: ”What does it reveal about how our lives touch when your ‘vandalism’ is my ‘Liberation’?”
L: ...Valuing property over the humanity of oppressed people is f***ed.

Do you think that this direct action approach could backfire and harm future dialogue with the University and/or with other students about changing the bathrooms?

P: Frankly, peaceful and civilized “future dialogue” is not our priority here.

Ultimately, self-described trans* activists are doomed to fail as long as they continue to fixate on radical ends, coercive means, and resentment towards the vast majority.

(Note: "trans*" includes: "transgender, transsexual, transvestite, genderqueer, genderfluid, non-binary, genderf***, genderless, agender, non-gendered, third gender, two-spirit, bigender, and trans man and trans woman.")

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