Gender-neutral, multi-stall restroom added on USC campus

When transgender and gender-nonconforming students held a First-Year Advocacy Board event at the LGBT Resource Center, they used the women’s restroom on the same floor as a gender neutral restroom for the evening. At that time, faculty at the center noticed hostility from older, cisgender female faculty toward the students using the restroom.

Kelby Harrison, the LGBT Resource Center director, and Michael Gorse, the LGBT Resource Center supervisor, brought this to the attention of Title IX when they realized it was a compliance issue.

“Title IX received reports that transgender and gender nonconforming students did not have an easily accessible all-gender bathroom near the LGBT resource center,” said Gretchen Means, the executive director and coordinator of Title IX in an email to the Daily Trojan. “The closest all-gender restrooms to the Student Union are in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center and in Bovard. Both required a 15-minute round-trip walk, and sometimes were not open. This created a barrier for students accessing the center’s resources and programming.”

The administration first switched all of the single-stall restrooms to all-gender restrooms. However, there were still spots where restrooms were not accessible to transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals. This is because in most of the buildings already constructed on campus there are only multi-stall restrooms, and switching these facilities into gender neutral facilities is much more difficult, according to Harrison.

This prompted the LGBT Resource Center to collaborate with the Title IX Office of Equity and Diversity to establish the first multi-stalled gender neutral restroom on campus in the Student Union modeled  after the United University Church’s gender-neutral restrooms.

Since transitioning to a gender-neutral restroom, the administration feels that it has made a positive impact on the transgender and gender-nonconforming students who frequent the LGBT Resource Center and the center itself.

“We’ve already had many positive reactions from gender nonconforming staff and students on its presence, that it helps them feel safer,” Harrison said. “A couple of different individuals have noted that it’s really helpful to them in their transition and that it’s been a powerful and positive experience.”

Transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals usually have to go to great lengths to safely go to the restroom. Some people will refrain from using the restroom throughout the day until they get home, or avoid drinking water when they go to public spaces, to avoid possible harassment when using public restrooms, according to Mary Andres, a professor of clinical education at the Rossier School of Education

Andres focused on these issues in her career at USC. In the past, she assisted transgender and gender-nonconforming students in making arrangements to use public facilities as a counselor at the counseling center. While working with these students, she noticed how mentally damaging these restrictions can be for them.

“It is tiresome and actually unhealthy for someone to feel like they don’t want to draw attention to themselves and not be able to just go to the bathroom when they want to go to the bathroom,” Andres said.

Mya Worrell, a freshman majoring in gender studies, identifies as agender and found comfort in the expansion of gender neutral restrooms.

Warrell said that in the women’s restroom they do not feel comfortable and in the men’s restroom, they do not feel safe.

“I love seeing a gender-neutral bathroom because it means that I don’t have to not go to the bathroom or force myself to go to a bathroom that makes me feel uncomfortable,” Worrell said.

In front of the gender-neutral restroom in the Student Union, there are fliers explaining the purpose of establishing the restroom for those who are unaware of the issue. Some look at the gender-neutral restroom as a foreign threat, but the LGBT Resource Center is making efforts to inform those people through the fliers, according to Gorse.

Worrell hopes that this expansion will inform cisgender individuals of the binary prevalent in most buildings and the necessity for inclusion in public facilities.

“I hope that, first of all, seeing gender-neutral bathrooms broadens their idea of the gender binary,” Worrell said. “I also hope that they realize that they can use gender-neutral bathrooms too, because gender-neutral bathrooms are for everyone.”

Harrison believed this expansion will help critics understand the issue and take part in creating a more accepting community at USC.

“I’ve seen the difference that inclusive spaces can make for people struggling to align their gender expression and gender identity,” Harrison said. “I think it’s healthy for all people to have a more complicated understanding of gender identity and expression, and restrooms like these help to expand that understanding and conversation.”

8 replies
  1. Benjamin Roberts
    Benjamin Roberts says:

    I will work tirelessly to fight this rubbish. We can not normalize this disorder… It’s dead wrong, and it’s not normal by any metric (biologically or statistically). Gay, straight, curiious.. no problem. That’s sexuality. Changing or choosing one’s gender can not happen. Chromosomes. Science. Truth. You can dress in drag, change your name, have some surgeries …but you will still have male or female chromosomes. This is a University for goodness sake. Please keep your social agendas out of the science and humanities…. and most certainly out of bathrooms and locker rooms. I believe in acceptance, tolerance and inclusion. These are great concepts, but don’t be like the parent who refuses to teach their child the virtue of “no”. Sometimes the answer is simply, no. Sometimes the truth is difficult to swallow, though I don’t know why this particular truth is so hard to swallow.

  2. Benjamin Roberts
    Benjamin Roberts says:

    All of humanity must reject and resist this total nonsense. The chaos rightfully described by Lucasfilms’ comment here is an example of what has happened and will continue to happen if we trash science by pretending that gender is a choice. Science has clearly taught us that gender is binary. There are two genders: male and female. Period. Except for the incredibly small percentage of troubled births where nature’s assigned gender is not readily apparent, the rest of us (99.9% of normal births) are assigned a gender. By contrast, sexuality is very fluid and appears on a broad spectrum. There are males who express themselves sexually as females (in appearance, behaviour, etc).. and there are females who do the same. But regardless of how you FEEL, you are male or you are female. This social movement to abandon science in a wayward attempt at “inclusion” has led to abject chaos in all sorts of public places. It is wholly inappropriate to marginalize or demonize the 99.9% of human beings who do not suffer any sort of gender identity disorder (through legislation or any other means). The only acceptable approach to accommodate those with this disorder is to provide a few gender-neutral, single-use bathrooms around schools or workplaces. These have existed since the dawn of time. They are the type found in Starbucks or Subway. Anyone can use them (men, women, children, parent attending a child or the elderly, and yes, people who suffer gender identity disorders). Simply put, if you feel like you are the opposite sex, or you desire to live as the opposite sex… stop bothering the rest of us so selfishly. Either use the bathroom (or lockeroom) that corresponds to your real gender, OR, go find a single use restroom and get over yourself. They are not hard to find.. and even if they require walking a bit farther, who cares?! You heard me, who cares!? Stop being so selfish. The rest of us don’t ‘have this problem, and unlike handicapped people, those peddling the transgender lie have abandoned science. Well the rest of us don’t ‘want to abandon science. Sorry. PS: There is nothing hateful about standing for science and demanding people be less selfish. Now go back to class or work.

    • Roy Cho
      Roy Cho says:

      If you are a rational person with at least some confidence in the science, actually use real science. “Don’t use science to justify your bigotry.” And don’t twist Lucasfilms’ words. She says “Allowing people of all gender identities to feel safe in the bathroom is essential; let’s make it happen without victimizing women.” She does not have a problem of gender neutral bathrooms in themselves, just in how USC went about it.

      • Benjamin Roberts
        Benjamin Roberts says:

        Don’t you dare accuse me of bigotry because I refuse to accept your twisted social agenda. How dare you!
        That is a tired argument. It’s like accusing people who want immigrants to come here legally of being xenophobic. Try something original and sensible… I have already replied to “Lucasfilms”, acknowledging that what she was saying was something different from my expanded argument. I agree with her on the issue that only women appear to have been impacted in USC’s attempt to include so-called transgenders at the Student Union. That is prima face wrong… But it only serves to underscore the utter nonsense and chaos that arises with foolish concepts like choosing one’s gender! Gender is not a choice. The science is clear, and is not subject to the whims of societal change. I’m disgusted that I now feel the need to disclose that I am a gay male. I am attracted to other men. Sexuality occurs on a broad spectrum and we must be tolerant and accepting of the science and biology of sexuality. But the gay community (and unprincipled liberals in general) have taken a bridge too far by indulging people with gender identity disorder. Like anyone with any disorder, they must be treated with love and respect.. but indulging them in a lie is NOT helping anyone. Demonizing and marginalizing the rest of us who dont’ have that disorder is not helpful either, and is in fact, a disgrace.

    • Lucasfilms
      Lucasfilms says:

      I feel that Benjamin has co-opted my argument here to a certain degree, and I would just like to disavow and decry his transphobic remarks. Gender is not a binary; it is a spectrum, and the gender that people are assigned at birth is not necessarily their actual gender. I support gender-neutral bathrooms completely. I just take issue with how they have been implemented in this case.

      • Benjamin Roberts
        Benjamin Roberts says:

        No.. I have not co-opted anything. I agree that in this particular case, women seem to be the only ones impacted by the new bathroom policy at Student Union.. and that is not fair. I simply expanded on the argument to say that all of this nonsense began with the idea that one can choose their gender… and therefore, that we need to make adjustments to our bathrooms in the first place.

  3. Lucasfilms
    Lucasfilms says:

    As a female student worker on this floor who has experienced the implementation the new “gender-neutral” bathroom firsthand, I beg to differ with the labelling of our new paradigm as a more “inclusive space.” In reality, USC is paying lip service to equality while marginalizing cisgender and transfeminine women alike. This article fails to mention that, while the floor’s only women’s restroom has been converted to be “gender-neutral,” the men’s restroom remains untouched. If the administration cared about its non-binary community, it would surely do the trivial work of installing “Gender-Neutral” signage on all bathrooms on the floor. As it is, only women are paying the price for this conversion, losing bathroom space, experiencing longer wait times for a stall or sink, and being subjected to a markedly dirtier bathroom environment. Mya Worrell hopes that this change will “broaden [cisgender people’s] idea of the gender binary.” Hopes aside, I KNOW that it has made my work experience more difficult, and the word “MEN” still clearly seared into another door on the floor where I spend much of my time doesn’t seem to challenge the patriarchal gender binary very much to me. Fight On!

    • Benjamin Roberts
      Benjamin Roberts says:

      PS: It is indeed wrong that only the women’s restroom in the Student Union was impacted by this nonsense, but I have a thought as to why: It could be because women’s restrooms have stalls, only… whereas men’s restroom also have urinals. The administration probably faced the same dilemma that came to my mind when this lie was first peddled: How do we handle anger and discomfort (not to mention lawsuits) by normal males who are urinating at a urinal, exposed… when a woman who feels like a man comes in to use the restroom (since it’s been labeled for everyone)?? Their answer was probably to switch only the women’s restroom since the stalls provide a measure of privacy.

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