The urgency one feels when having to use the restroom is a real struggle we all deal with, especially when there isn’t one in sight.
Sometimes, that option isn’t available for individuals who identify as transgender, have a disability or just feel more comfortable using a single-person or gender-neutral restroom.
Currently, there are 76 gender neutral bathrooms on Keene State College’s campus.
A new action put into place are signs on these restrooms, identifying them as single-person, gender-neutral restrooms. Prior to this, not all of them were properly labeled or even labeled at all.
Program Support Assistant for LGBTQ+ students Hunter Kirschner counted all the bathrooms and suggested something be done about properly identifying them. He said he originally started this search because people were concerned there were none to be found on campus. “So we put together different pieces of a proposal and came up with a budget estimate…then talked to Physical Plant to see what we could do,” Kirschner said.
Upon speaking with Director of Physical Plant Frank Mazzola, Kirschner said they were told not to worry and it would be taken care of. The signs were roughly $4,000, according to Mazzola, and were funded by the Physical Plant department.
Mazzola stated that he felt there would be concerns if these bathrooms were not available. “For many, access to gender-neutral washrooms is an equity and safety issue because many queer and trans people are frequently subjected to emotional and physical harassing behaviors when they enter or exit gender-segregated washrooms,” he stated.
“It is not uncommon for individuals to be insulted or questioned about their gender. As a result, some differently gendered individuals may avoid public washrooms. Not using washrooms may lead to health and emotional risks if physical needs remain unmet.”
Kirschner said that another action being talked about is constructing a single-person locker room. “During the teach-in, we did a transgender education program and in attendance was President Huot. She asked if there were any needs for transgender students and we brought up the single occupancy locker room,” Kirschner explained.
Mazzola stated that there has been talk about this. “The Physical Plant Department completed a conceptual plan to provide two single-person changing or shower rooms at the Spaulding Gymnasium and Recreational Sports Center. We are discussing the plan with staff at the gym, as well as developing a cost estimate for this project,” he stated.
However, there are still buildings on campus that don’t have any gender-neutral bathrooms such as the Redfern Arts Center, Media Arts Center and Mason Library. For the time being, there are no immediate plans to construct gender-neutral bathrooms in these locations.
Mazzola stated the school has only been looking at options so far.
KSC sophomore Dante Diffendale said transgender students are just like cisgender students. “Especially with the new bathroom bill, there are people saying we are perverts. No, we just want to pee and poop…that’s what you go into the bathroom for, or to check your hair, check your makeup,” he said.
He said that a lot of transgender individuals, himself included, are constantly mindful of how they are presented to look like the gender they identify with.
“We’re men and women just like everybody else. At birth, we were assigned a gender we know we’re not, [but] we’re still men and women,” he said.
“A cisman or ciswoman has been living their life the way they have forever, but so have we. We’ve just had to be a little bit more secretive about it,” he said.
“And I just hope that no matter how much bad stigma and… how the media might portray us to be, the bottom line is we’re human beings. We have feelings [and] we do the same things you do.”
Dorothy England can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org