For an All Gender Bathroom

LGBT community fights to make bathrooms accessible for members of both genders, reports Daily Orange.

Bryce Renninger wanted people to talk, to reconsider traditional gender boundaries.

So in November he helped make two single-occupancy bathrooms in Watson Hall gender-inclusive.

“The big thing is this gets some awareness, and I don’t think people had really thought about it,” said Renninger, residence adviser for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Learning Community.

The bathrooms are the first all-gender bathrooms at Syracuse University, and Renninger tried to raise as much awareness for them as he could. He put flyers on every bathroom in Watson and had an open discussion about the idea before any changes were made.

In an unrelated effort, the LGBT Resource Center is working with the Office of Design, Planning and Construction to draw up a priority list of buildings to put in all-gender bathrooms. These bathrooms, more than to raise awareness, aim to cater to students who may not feel comfortable in a gender-specific bathroom.

“Gender-neutral restrooms provide transgender and gender nonconforming students with a safe space to do the most basic human acts,” said Amit Taneja, assistant director of the LGBT Resource Center.

Gender nonconformers, Taneja said, include “butch” women and metro sexual men.

The atmosphere and environment at SU is open to accommodate transgender students, Taneja said. Several years ago, SU included gender identity and expression to its nondiscrimination policy, which Taneja said was a move toward acceptance.

“We’re heading in the right direction in terms of policy,” Taneja said. “How do we truly change practice to reflect that policy?”

One step, Taneja said, is the creation of all-gender bathrooms. He said it is relatively easy and inexpensive to convert existing single-occupant bathrooms and doesn’t affect anyone else, because everyone can still use the bathrooms.

Lindy Wagner, resident director at Watson Hall, said she hasn’t seen a change in people using the now all-gender bathrooms.

“Honestly,” Wagner said, “both male and female used both anyways. If one was full, they went to the other … I haven’t seen any difference in population use.”

The largest roadblock was people misunderstanding what the bathrooms actually were, Wagner said. Several students came to her office and asked whether this meant men and women would be showering in and using co-ed bathrooms now. One student even approached Wagner with her mother on the phone, asking about what sort of debauchery was taking place.