Mar. 28, 2017

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Kalamazoo, MI

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Est. 1877

Pizza's Kitchen

New Gender-Neutral Bathroom Leaves Room for Improvement

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A few weeks ago, the new gender-neutral bathroom was unveiled on the first floor of the Kalamazoo College library in replacement of the men’s bathroom that was previously there.

In addition to changing signs, the urinals were removed and a changing table was installed.

Transgender and gender non-conforming students, including myself, have been fighting for this all year, but this wasn’t exactly what we had in mind.

Jessa Murshak K’18, is glad that the school is taking steps to help trans students, but doesn’t think the school adequately addressed the problem.

“I think it was well-intentioned, but I’m not sure that the situation is any better,” Mushak said.

Murshak is referring to the school only changing one of the bathrooms over, leaving the women’s alone. This creates two bathrooms: one for ciswomen, and one for trans people and cis-men.

This is especially problematic for transwomen, such as Norah Getz, K’17. Despite feeling mostly safe on K’s campus, she still feels nervous using the new restroom.

“I know that K as a culture is generally really accepting…but I still don’t entirely feel comfortable with being forced with what’s essentially a men’s room,” Getz said.

Her comments are especially valid considering that almost all attacks on transgender people, especially transwomen, are done by men.

Not only is this potentially dangerous for transwomen, but it also separates them from other women.

“[The bathrooms are] clearly segregating, specifically transwomen, from the femme community,” Murshak said.

Both Getz and Murshak would have preferred if both restrooms were changed to gender neutral to accommodate people of all genders.

However, currently that is not an option. According to Dean Sarah Westfall, building codes outside of the school’s jurisdiction prevented the women’s restroom from being converted.

While this means that there can not currently be two gender-neutral bathrooms in the building, this should only encourage student activists to stand up and fight against it.

These only remain that way because no one is showing up and challenging them. Just last year, codes were changed to allow multi-stall gender-neutral bathrooms, a huge step in the right direction.

So, in order for trans students, like Murshak, Getz, and myself, to really feel comfortable using the bathroom, we need to keep changing arbitrary rules and making strides to better institutions around the world.

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