It doesn’t matter who you are, the bathroom is a sensitive place for everyone.
You’re at your most vulnerable with your pants down, not to mention those with shy bladders.
Now imagine having the choice to enter a bathroom specified for a gender other than your own to be safe or entering the correct bathroom knowing the risk of stares and even harassment.
This is the reality of trans, enveloping term for transgender and gender non-conforming, students on campuses all over this country.
If Pacific is determined to create a safe and comfortable environment for its students, faculty and community members, it needs to have more gender-neutral bathroom options around campus.
According to a study conducted by the National Center for Transgender in 2011, more than half of participants reported being harassed in public accommodation, with nearly 10 percent reporting being physically attacked.
So now you can begin to understand the fear and discomfort attached to entering bathrooms.
I’d like to stress that I am proud of the community at Pacific.
I also want to stress, that I feel relatively safe when I enter male bathrooms on campus.
Being one of the few trans students on this campus, I have never been harassed in a bathroom.
At worst, I’ve received glares and confused looks. However, I still have managed to only enter gendered bathrooms a handful of times here in my two years because of the discomfort entering them can entail.
At the moment, there are four single-occupancy unisex bathrooms in the University Center, two in Starbucks and two next to the Alumni Room.
There is another pair in Carnegie Hall as well, but those were only made known to me after asking other people.
If someone doesn’t feel comfortable entering a gendered bathroom or they often don’t have time to get to the existing unisex bathrooms between classes, many times will end up deciding not to use a restroom at all.
Which can lead to many health problems.
You may think, “No offense, Benjamin, but there’s just not enough students that this affects for us to make this change,” and I completely understand.
But, I’m not doing this for myself. I’m doing this for all of the current and future students of Pacific who don’t feel comfortable entering gendered bathrooms.
Almost all of the universities that implemented gender-neutral bathrooms on their campus did so in response to students’ complaints of harassment or discrimination.
I want Pacific to be preemptive in this concern to meet the needs of all of our students.
I plan on making this one of my concerns next year in my position on Student Senate as the VP of Campus Betterment and I ask for your support in making this the new reality on our campus.
With your support, we will be able to actively show that we support all of our students and also help make people from all walks of life feel comfortable on our campus.