At first, the idea of having gender-neutral washrooms in a university space may seem drastic; however, we cannot let this kind of conservatism become an excuse for the administration to keep wearing the cloak of queer-invisibility and remain conveniently ignorant.
Any transgender person usually experiences their first episode of invisibility in deciding which washroom to use. While they may not overtly fit in to use the gender-aligning washroom, using the other washroom can feel violating and uncomfortable.
When a person transitions gender, it is not a quick process. It takes months if not years before the secondary sex characteristics of the person’s correct gender start to appear. While we wish for a better society where open-acceptance and inclusion of queer people exists, it undeniably will take us some time. Using gender-confirming bathrooms can possibly lead to abuse, humiliation, and assault. Imagine being laughed at, questioned or beaten up for attempting to meet a very basic need. Such a situation demands universities to build gender-neutral washrooms, at-least one if not many.
Jody L. Herman, Williams Institute Manager of Transgender Research conducted a study on “Gendered Restrooms and Minority Stress: The Public Regulation of Gender and Its Impact on Transgender People’s Lives.” This scientific study found that 70 percent of transgender and gender-nonconforming respondents experienced problems in gender-specific restrooms in Washington, D.C., with people of colour and people who have not medically transitioned often faring worse than others.
Following the lead of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in their celebrated decision of building gender-neutral hostels, the University of Delhi (DU) can do the same. Keeping the binary washrooms intact, a gender-neutral washroom could be installed so as to avoid any confusion and possible abuse. While the administration might think that the transgender and non-binary population is “minuscule”, it is not the case. Many transgender people stay in the closet in fear of societal and parental rejection. Not only would building gender-neutral washrooms ensure that a significant amount of fear and discomfort that they experienced using the non-aligning washroom went away, it would ensure that the needs of transgender people are recognised and acknowledged.
Feature Image Credits: BlogTO