Gender-neutral washroom protest sparks non-neutral pushback

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If you were on Yik Yak on Monday, Feb. 15, you would have thought the UVSS had marched into Mystic Market and declared martial law, judging by the torches and pitchforks.

Take a breath, and you’ll find that wasn’t the case.

In fact, the controversy arose when trans activist and Women’s Centre employee Daphne Shaed and others placed signs on various washroom doors around campus labelling them as gender-neutral, similar to what’s already been implemented in the SUB.

Shaed originally tweeted photos of the signs at approximately 8 a.m.; one tweet read, “@uvss @uvic gender neutral bathrooms! It really is 2016!” Shaed originally did not take credit for the signs, saying they were put in place by UVic.

As the morning went on, students took to Yik Yak to question the need for gender-neutral washrooms in general and call out the UVSS for what some thought was a stunt of their own making.

The Martlet reached out to UVSS Chairperson Brontë Renwick-Shields for comment, who said the UVSS had nothing to do with the signs, but that “we support gender-inclusive washrooms on campus.”

At 12:51 p.m., Shaed tweeted that the signs had been removed — some students on Yik Yak said by campus security — and later took credit for them. A tweet at 2:17 p.m. read, “@uvic @TheMartlet The gender neutral bathrooms were installed by myself and some others. Please stop pretending #uvic has g-n bathrooms!”

Speaking with the Martlet afterwards, Shaed said the signs were put up in the hopes that UVic would take credit and see the need for them around campus — not just the SUB.

UVic currently only has single-occupancy stalls for those who need a gender-neutral washroom on campus, though Shaed — and the UVSS — think the university can do more.

At the board meeting that evening, members passed a motion to push UVic administration towards increasing the number of gender-neutral washrooms on campus. The motion includes writing a letter directly to President Jamie Cassels.

While support for gender-neutral washrooms is strong amongst UVSS directors and advocacy groups, time will tell if the greater student body will support their implementation — or decide to give them a flush.

Update Feb. 17, 2016: Yesterday afternoon, Daphne Shaed tweeted a photo of a student dumping red paint on the Pride crosswalk outside the SUB. The Martlet will have more as this story develops.

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  • joesmoe

    All of this is so ridiculous when you consider that UVic campus is one of the most accommodating places in the world compared to the real world.

    All of you will realize this when you graduate and leave the coddling that is University.

  • Jingledingle

    Daphne and the acts of Uvic Pride do not represent the entire so-called “queer/trans” community.

    Their elitist attitude completely ignores the fact that, by definition, if you are in university you are a privileged person. They are more concerned with policing language than they are with enacting true change. Furthermore, they ignore the fact that this is an academic institution, not an activist one. There is room – and absolute necessity – for advocacy on campus!!

    But their attitude is exclusionary and they are frankly bullies. But any critique of action is shot down – even anonymous concerns are dismissed as “cis/straight” trolls.

    If you are going to behave like this you have to expect kick back. And guess what- you are making me feel unsafe on campus as a queer and trans individual. You do not represent me and you are making me scared to be here. You need to take a look at your tactics and enact changes that take into account the community – not just the desires of your elitist little circle.

  • HoverBadger

    This is an excellent perspective https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Uq17ItBg58

  • Student

    One problem I have with gender neutral bathrooms as a cis-male white privileged scumbag I want to be able to use a urinal in peace. I honestly can’t do that in a washroom with women included in it, I barely feel comfortable now with men around me using them to be honest. There is a place for gender neutral bathrooms but their should also be normal segregation so that males can use half of their bathroom that was created for them to take a quick pee.

    • Jingledingle

      Hey guess what I’m a trans guy – I have a vagina! And I’m attracted to MEN. I’m in there pissing sonny. Get over yourself man, I’m in there to take a quick piss too.

      And the point of gender neutral washrooms is so people don’t have to worry about being stared at, thrown out, or even worse in the washroom. It is scary to walk into a “segregated” “normal” public washroom.

      This does not have any implications on your life, when you take a moment to think. There are cis gay men on campus pissing beside you and they manage to control themselves around you. This is not about sex, it’s about bodily functions.

      • Student

        In segregated washrooms when are you ever going to be stared at thrown out or whatever else you are trying to insinuate would happen? I do mostly agree that my issue is idiosyncratic but then what does that mean for this issue? Is is truly important to make it into gn bathrooms? Why not just leave it be so that men who are already a little uncomfortable using the urinals allow them to take a piss in peace. If you yourself feel stared at, I am sorry you feel that way though, and really glad you have added to this discussion.

        • Jingledingle

          Thanks for the response.

          I know plenty of cis dudes who pee in the cubicles. I don’t know if that might help in this situation for you personally, but I know men who have similar issues.

          My right to use the washroom
          Is key here – it’s a human right. Why does your personal discomfort override my need (not desire) to piss? As it stands I have to plan my day based on where I can use the washrooms without real fear. I often have to hold it in to go home – risking UTIs, bladder or even kidney infections. And not every washroom has to be gender neutral right away – there can be small steps in the direction of making them more available.

          Yes this issue is important. I’m not looking at you and I bet the rest of the folks in my position aren’t either because we are staring at the ground to avoid any confrontation. I don’t want to get into specifics of my experiences because my anonymity is important here.

  • Digger Nicks

    Gender Neutral bathrooms are an awful idea. The current year is irrelevant.

  • Vek

    As a queer femme who came from a small town where I was afraid to come out because of ignorant cowboys, I support these actions. Uvic makes a themselves appear really progressive but after coming here, it turns out that that is not so. At least it is not exactly as they advertise. in class it is really super hetero and the only time homosexuality gets talked about is when someone brings it up or a special chapter or section of the text, like it is somehow not natural. Obviously there is a lot of work to do and changes are slow. But all the little things add up, and there are days when it gets to me. And for Daphne it must be tens times worse cause she is so vocal and being transwoman and dealing with all the effed up crap from everywhere in society. I applaud Daphne for holding the university true to their own words. I also applaud her for enduring all the haters too. I mean what have any of you all done besides go and comment negative things against someone who puts themselves out there in such a vulnerable way? I hope uvic does put in proper gender netreul bathrooms.

  • Jim

    Some people need better things to do with their time

  • FThis

    Can we kick Daphne from all positions that she holds? A protest is a protest. Blatant vandalism is not. And if this is what we can expect from her andher “followers” then I do not want MY money going towards supporting her.

    • It’s literally just a sign taped to a door, and the paint — as written above — is water based and will come off. Thank goodness we live in a climate that will wash the paint away and save your precious munmuns, eh?

      These are demonstrations that do not leave lasting damage on anyone’s property, which, hey, is a protest and not vandalism. Why not think about what the protests mean and the fact that queer and trans student’s money is being on wasted on services and paycheques of people who refuse to protect their right to get an education safely?

      • FThis

        >queer and trans student’s money is being on wasted on services and paycheques of people who refuse to protect their right to get an education safely?

        So UVic Pride? Instead of having paid positions, wasting EVERYONE’s money, you can volunteer. Wasting securities man hours, which is payed for BY STUDENTS, is vandalism. Vandalism isn’t just about whether it’s permanent or not. Somebody had to pay somebody to take the signs down.

        How about obstructing traffic, a crime, to pour paint on the road? A crosswalk is to walk, not stand in the middle of the street.

        2M for research is EXACTLY what the university is supposed to fucking do. What, we can’t pay for research, even though academics is publish or perish?

      • hrrrt2846

        As a queer person, please do not speak for me. Most queer students do not agree with over-the-top activism commonly associated with UVic Pride. Lots of students of queer students have faced real discrimination and hardship and need a safe space of like-minded people with which to associate and deal with accepting their own sexual identity. Sadly, that space doesn’t exist on campus as Pride et al. managed to alienate such students, as well as potential allies, which is impressive considering UVic is one of the most progressive campuses in the country. I thought the the crosswalk was a welcome symbolism from the administration.

        If I had been a 17yo kid having grown up in a small homophobic town, I’d feel pretty welcomed at somewhere like the UVic. There is always things that could be improved, with regards to trans and queer issues as well as other issues affecting all issues.

        While I support g-n washrooms, many students don’t feel comfortable. The administration has an obligation to those people as well to find a balanced solution and, realistically, find money to make such capital changes. Instead of acting like impatient, petulant children, I think a lot more would be gained from rational, adult discussions.

        • I don’t necessarily disagree with you on this point, but the fact remains that taping a sign on a door is a fairly toothless action. No one is getting hurt by this, and it is raising awareness of trans issues.

          I am not pretending to speak for other queers, but as a queer and trans person myself who doesn’t have a lot of sentiment for UVIC Pride, I still support these actions.

      • Jononymous

        LOL “refuse to protect their right to get an education safely?” = taking a piss in a bathroom. Good job Emmy. 10/10

        • Being able to just take a piss is generally a privilege reserved for cis people when it comes to public washrooms. Visibly trans folks talk a lot about feeling unsafe using public washrooms – especially trans women, who often have to share with cis men – so yes this is an issue of people’s safety.