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The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

New gender-neutral locker room to open in RIMAC

New+gender-neutral+locker+room+to+open+in+RIMAC
Photo by Amanda Parmele/ UCSD Guardian

A new gender-neutral locker room will open in RIMAC in early January for transgender, gender non-binary, gender non-conforming, and disabled-community individuals to feel more comfortable showering and changing. The space was a men’s restroom that has been remodeled and features a vibrant mural painted on its wall. Construction for the locker room began last summer and was completed in mid-October.

Gender-neutral locker rooms are single-stall rooms with floor-to-ceiling doors and a sink, toilet, and shower inside, said Recreation Inclusion Council Co-Chair Leo Ho. They explained that individuals belonging to these communities often face safety barriers in locker rooms.

“A space where trans and non-binary people can shower and stuff after they work out at the gym or just use rec facilities isn’t something that we currently have,” Ho said. “So it just increases accessibility and gives everyone the same opportunity.”

Ho said they had an impactful conversation with the former director of the UC San Diego LGBT Resource Center Shaun Travers about how the university can create a space that is inclusive to the most marginalized communities.  

“What I think Shaun Travers put really well is that when you’re creating a space … you really need to make sure it’s inclusive for the most marginalized person that’s going to be in that space,” they said. “We wanted to make sure that someone who is really at the intersection of a lot of marginalized identities would feel safe and would feel welcome in that space.“

In line with this goal, the locker room includes a mural by UCSD alum Gabriella Escobar that represents and celebrates LGBTQ+ and underrepresented populations. One figure in the mural, featured on the left, is a para-cyclist with the lesbian flag and the intersex flag forming the bicycle wheel. In the center, a trans-masculine swimmer with surgery scars across their chest is depicted with the colors of the trans flag on their swimming shorts and body. The climber with a hearing aid, on the right, displays the colors of the pansexual flag. 

“We also tried to create a bit of different representation just with body types in general,” Ho said. “We pretty much wanted to create something that was big and that people could see parts of themselves in. And also something that just created movement and color in the space.”

Following a conversation with Travers about signage, they decided to create something more detailed inside the locker room, with vague signage on the outside, so as not to out anyone. While the outside presents itself as a conventional locker room, the inside makes it clear whom the space is intended for. With the mural inside representing the queer and disabled communities, it conveys the message that the locker room is not intended for able-bodied cisgender individuals. 

“Inside we created this piece so that you might walk in and, not knowing what this restroom is, you go in. But then seeing the representation of the trans and non-binary flags and the other various flags from the LGBT movement [you] take a step back and [are] like, oh, maybe this restroom isn’t designed for me,” Ho said.

The project was made possible with the support of many student voices, something Ho suggested is important to the Recreation Inclusion Council.

“We received a lot of support from the Director of Recreation and [others] that were directly involved with making this project happen,” they said.

UCSD LGBT Resource Center Interim Programs & Operations Coordinator Max Adams said that gender-neutral spaces are for people to use, to feel comfortable, and to feel safe, a project that is worth the time and resources it requires.  

“It’s just a space for folks to feel affirmed in their identity and to have a space to use if they so need without having to sacrifice any of their own identities or potentially feel unsafe,” Adams said. “Gender-neutral spaces help student success and student health … and I think that’s worth investing in.”

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Amanda Parmele, Photographer
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