A number of SFU students are currently petitioning to turn a percentage of multi-stall washrooms on campus into gender-inclusive ones. On Feb. 18, protesters also staged a “shit-in”, where activists sat outside a men’s washroom with their pants around their ankles, using the afternoon to educate passerby about the harassment that non-binary people face when trying to simply use a washroom.
There are single-occupant washrooms on campus, which some believe should suffice for transgender people or for those who don’t identify as male or female, but the signage on those washrooms only acknowledges men and women, and they’re not always in convenient locations. Which demands the question, “Why the hell not?” More specifically, the question should really be, “Why the hell is protesting even necessary?”
We shouldn’t place too much blame on administrators for not switching everything over already. This issue, though important, was a rarely discussed topic in previous years. For people who’ve never thought of gender as a spectrum, the thought that the simple act of going to a public washroom could bring anxiety, confusion, and fear to someone would certainly never been on their radar. However, once administrators did hear about it, it should have been changed right away. There should be no need for protest, which is why it is soul crushing that this needs to be so exhaustively explained.
And yet it does. What is it about gender-divisive washrooms that many binary washroom users cling to? If it is gastrointestinal privacy from potentially sexy people, then it should be noted that this has only ever been afforded to strictly heterosexual patrons; gay people never had such a benefit, which should call into question how essential that privacy is. It isn’t, after all, as though privacy ceases to exist in washrooms frequented by all genders. Inter-stall boundaries are not being torn down in an excessive storm of inclusivity. Rather, the privacy is being balanced towards people in general, rather than towards people across the boundary of a particular gender scheme.
Here is what should’ve happened. Any coherent student could’ve easily walked to their administration and said, “Our washrooms can’t be gender specific because gender is not a black or white answer, and by forcing everyone to try and answer it in black or white you are creating unnecessary anxiety.”
Then the administration would reply, “Of course! What idiots we were for not realizing this sooner.” Then the administration would re-direct funds for stupid promotional Rubik’s cubes and replace binary signage with inclusive signage, and they would tell the student, “every time a new washroom or a washroom renovation is built from here on in we will make it gender inclusive.”
It’s just that easy.