1 min

Trans-friendly washrooms

The University of British Columbia (UBC) campus is on its way to revamping its single-use washrooms for transgendered students.

Up to 391 existing single-stall washrooms will be overhauled, while existing multi-stall men’s and women’s washrooms will stay the same. The revamped washrooms will also be open to nursing moms and practicing Muslim students who need special washing facilities before praying.

Janet Mee, UBC director of access and diversity, told The Vancouver Sun Aug 14 that Pride UBC brought the issue to her office. Transgendered students reported feeling embarrassed or harassed when using gender-segregated bathrooms.

“It’s an issue of safety, but also one of dignity,” Mee told The Sun.

A gender-neutral silhouette of a toilet will identify the new washrooms, replacing the conventional male and female images.

Samonte Cruz, an office and volunteer coordinator at Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) queer group Out on Campus, is hoping for similar signage at SFU. Though SFU designated single-stall bathrooms for transgendered students and students with disabilities three years ago, the facilities are still identified by men’s and women’s silhouettes, along with a wheelchair silhouette.

Brenda Taylor, SFU’s human rights director, says there is at least one single-use stall in every building “throughout campus.”

Cruz says he is not personally aware of where any of the single-stall washrooms are and would like to see a detailed map for students. “Maybe they do exist, but I’m not sure how useful they are. Nobody knows they’re there.”