Imagine if you were told to go into a bathroom of a gender that you don’t identify with? So a female would have to go into the men’s restroom and a male would have to go into a women’s restroom. Imagine that feeling. You could feel uncomfortable, scared, or confused. That may be what it feels like for a gender neutral person or a transgender person whenever they use a public restroom. The lack of gender neutral bathrooms here at Tam could make people feel unwelcome here because they feel like they aren’t represented properly and they feel like they can’t properly be themselves.
I have a friend who I met at camp. Their name is Kirby and they are gender neutral. Kirby is average in height with short, dark, curly hair. Our cabin did everything they could to make them feel welcome and safe. We made sure to use Kirby’s correct pronouns and changed our cabin name from G-11, the G standing for girl, to AG-11; the AG standing for all genders. There was a big factor that we couldn’t control and that was there were no gender neutral bathrooms at that camp. Kirby was forced to go into the girls bathroom when they needed to use the toilet, to brush their, teeth, and to take a shower. No matter how hard our cabin tried to make Kirby feel comfortable, there was still a gut feeling that Kirby didn’t feel totally included because of the lack of gender neutral bathrooms.
Gender neutral bathrooms, also known as unisex bathrooms or all gender bathrooms, are bathrooms that someone of any gender can use. California governor Jerry Brown signed the bill AB1732 on September 29, 2016 which requires that businesses and governments post signs on single occupancy restrooms indicating that they are gender neutral bathrooms. By March 1, 2017, every business should have those signs up. Since Tam is a government run institution, they will need to put signs. Tam would benefit from gender neutral bathrooms because they could make the Tam community more inclusive and make people feel safer at school.
Designating gender neutral bathrooms would make Tam more welcoming to all genders. Not only are people recognizing the common male and female genders, but people would start to realize that there are more than two genders at this school. To name a few other genders, students might be unaware that there are gender neutral, transgender, and gender fluid.
An article on youth and students by transequality.org said, “A national survey by GLSEN has found that 75% of transgender youth feel unsafe at school, and those who are able to persevere had significantly lower GPAs, were more likely to miss school out of concern for their safety, and were less likely to plan on continuing their education.” This shows that people who don’t identify their birth sex can feel unsafe at school which leads to them putting lower effort into their studies and their plans for education after college. However, the bill AB1266 in California was passed by Jerry Brown stating that transgender youth can use any bathrooms that they felt they identified with and chose what sports teams they participated that matches their gender identity. That bill took effect on January 1, 2014 yet still students still face hostility and prejudice when walking into a bathroom.
According to The Huffington Post, there are over 150 schools that have gender neutral bathrooms. Tam could join them and by doing so make people feel more safe, included, and invested in Tam.