By Laylah Beattie
This year, DIT added 47 gender neutral bathrooms across its different campuses. As a transgender female, I believe that this development hasn’t come a moment too soon. It would be easy to disregard the need for gender neutral bathrooms and of course many people do. I have no doubt that this development has prompted a number of conversations between DIT students expressing their doubts about them. But for a gender nonconforming person, this simple action could be making a world of difference.
When I first arrived at DIT in 2015, I was still identifying as male, but my appearance was completely feminine. I had long hair, carried handbags and dressed in women’s clothing. Not sure what to do, I used the male bathroom. For the most part, this was fine, but I did experience a little bit of harassment. Groups of boys laughing when I emerged from a cubicle. People staring me up and down with a frown in clear attempts of intimidating me. Once a boy even kicked the door of my cubicle and ran from the bathroom while all of his friends laughed. Had a gender neutral bathroom been around at that time, it would have saved me a lot of hassle.
Outside of DIT, the harassment was a lot worse. I found myself shouted at, berated and even chased out of public bathrooms. People are cruel, we see evidence of that every day. And if you’re advocating against gender neutral bathrooms, you’re advocating for people to be unsafe. Trust me on that. I could tell you many more stories.
You could say that people who have a penis should use the male bathroom and that people with vaginas should use the female bathroom but that’s polarising a considerable amount of the population. These days, it’s a widely accepted fact that more than two genders exist. And there are many variables in between.
In all sense of the word, I’m a woman. I present as a woman. I socialise as a woman. And people (even strangers) refer to me as a woman. But I’m a woman with a penis. And according to some people, this means I should be using the male bathroom. But I, as a woman standing in the middle of a group of boys, washing my hands will only make myself and said boys feel uncomfortable. Why not save everyone the discomfort?
At the end of the day, this isn’t really my battle to fight. For the last year or so, I’ve been quietly using the female bathroom very happily. Gender neutral bathrooms aren’t something I wish to use, but as a decent human being I will of course advocate for them. Arguing over which bathroom a person should use gets incredibly complicated. The universally agreed solution is to have gender neutral bathrooms. Not using the toilet isn’t an option for any of us. Gender neutral bathrooms allow all of us, no matter who we are to do it in peace. If you object to that, I personally think you should take a long, hard look at yourself.