Monday, December 1, 2008

Accommodating the Unaccommodating

The University of Western Ontario is revamping some existing single stall washrooms in the arts and social sciences areas on campus, and investing in some signage to make transgendered peoples feel more welcome.

"These bathrooms are single-stall bathrooms with a universal sign to provide safety and security for all individuals," said Cara Eng, the student council's vice-president of campus issues.

Eng spearheaded the move after going to the Canadian University Queer Service conference in Montreal.

"They're not just for people who are transgendered or who are in transition (from one gender to another). They're for anyone," Eng said.

The bathrooms can also be used for students who want to breastfeed, those who need to wash before prayer or just would like privacy.

[..] The bathrooms will be rolled out starting in January and should all be functional by April, she said. They're existing single-stall bathrooms that will get new signs.

The university will cover sign costs, said Roy Longille, associate vice-president of physical plant and capital planning service.

"They will be marked so not to be offensive to any group," Longille said.

The sign will say "Washroom" on a purple background, in Braille as well. If the washroom is handicapped accessible, there will also be a picture of a wheelchair. (LFpress)
Inevitably, some group is going to take offense.
Dwayne Mills, who sits on the Pride Festival London committee and often performs shows in drag, said going into the gender-neutral bathroom could "out" people unnecessarily.

"I would be uncomfortable in a specific washroom," he said.

When he's doing a performance in drag, the group will ask which gender's bathroom the owners of the establishment want the performers to use, Mills said.

"I think, personally, (the gender-neutral) bathrooms are centering those transgendered people out . . . (Transgendered) should be part of the community, not another level of the community," Mills said.
Of course, there are still gender specific options available to the community, but never mind, it's the fault of the heteronormatives.

cp: The Broom