UC Campuses to Establish Nonbinary Restrooms

UC facilities offices will convert all single-stall restrooms in UC-owned buildings into gender-inclusive spaces by March 1. UC President Janet Napolitano adopted this measure, along with other efforts, in order to provide a more inclusive environment for LGBTQ students, staff and faculty.

UCSD Queer and Trans People of Color Access Coordinator Jacqueline Koch told the UCSD Guardian that gender-neutral facilities would minimize the harassment, including physical violence and name-calling, that transgender and gender-nonconforming people face when using the restroom.

“LGBTQ people [are often] stared at, asked if they are in the wrong bathroom and hear comments like, ‘Why is a man/woman in a men’s/women’s bathroom?’” Koch said. “Not everyone fits into the gender binary, so when nonbinary folks go to use a restroom, they often … end up going to the restrooms that they think will lead to the least amount of harassment.”

UCSD Counseling and Psychological Services Wellness Peer Educator Marlee Kongthong commented on the benefits of gender-neutral restrooms for people who do follow the gender binary.

“Not only is it mindful of those who are transitioning or uncomfortable with their gender, but it allows parents and caregivers to attend to children who may identify as a different gender than them, as well as folks who have caregivers or personal attendants to assist with their needs,” Kongthong told the Guardian.

Over 90 UCSD-associated locations, many with multiple single-stall restrooms, are gender-neutral. Newly constructed or renovated buildings as of last July also provide at least one gender-inclusive restroom on each floor where restrooms are required or provided. The mandatory sign on the door is a triangle within a circle, without gender pictograms, and the term “Restroom” on the sign is optional. Gender-inclusive changing rooms, locker rooms and showers are also included for athletic facilities and other appropriate locations.

Director of the UCSD LGBT Resource Center Shaun Travers explained that students have identified gender-inclusive restrooms as a priority on-campus, adding that the matter has been a standing item on the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee for Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Issues.

“When the LGBT Resource center was built over a decade ago, [UCSD] students ensured a gender-inclusive restroom was … in the design,” Travers told the Guardian. “Additionally, the Price Center expansion included a number of such restrooms through its design in response to students’ requests.”

Assemblyman Phil Ting of San Francisco proposed Assembly Bill 1732 on Jan. 29, which would make all single-stall restrooms in California public spaces, government buildings and businesses explicitly open to all genders.

“Restrooms are a necessity of life,” Ting said in a statement announcing the bill’s introduction. “Access to them influences our ability to participate in public life … Signs restricting single-use restroom access by gender create problems of convenience, fairness and safety. They defy common sense, which is why many of us ignore them. ‘All gender’ signs will end these problems and ensure everyone’s rights are protected.”

UCOP Media Specialist Kate Moser noted that the measure builds on the UC system’s established reputation as a progressive university.

“This is just one more way that the University of California is leading the state,” Moser told the Guardian. “UC campuses are consistently rated as among the best campuses and most LGBT-friendly in the country, but we’re always looking for ways to continue to improve and to make sure that everyone at the University of California feels safe and supported.”