‘Human decisions’

Gender neutral bathrooms proposed

nopicWhen Evan Phillips heard about the proposal to eliminate gender-specific bathrooms on campus, they questioned whether it would actually solve the problem of uncomfortability.

“I don’t feel like for the safety of people that making all bathrooms gender neutral is a good idea,” Evan Phillips said. “You can’t just say ‘hey bathrooms are gender neutral now and everything will be OK.’”

Phillips said they normally use a third, non-gender specific bathroom if it exists.

They also said the separate third bathroom would be a better idea in order to protect transgender people.

“It’s more of a comfort and safety issue,” they said. “Transgender people are murdered at a much higher rate than cisgender people and a lot of times it’s for using the wrong facility.”

The author of the proposition, economics professor Perry Burnett, said he recognizes the safety issue, but realizes a third option would only be a temporary solution.

“Violence happens because people believe that somebody is out of place,” he said. “This is specified as a group of individuals and that individual is not part of the group and therefore violence happens because you’re not seen as part of a group.”

Burnett said if the group-defined gender-specific bathrooms are eliminated, then individual privacy will prevail, leading to less violence against transgender people.

Phillips said they appreciates Burnett’s proposal taking a progressive stance, but feels the lack of trans people’s input has hurt the proposal.

“I talked to some of my other friends and they would much rather have one gender neutral bathroom and not have all bathrooms be gender neutral,” they said. “Maybe in the future it would be good, but as a society we’re not there yet.”

Burnett believes gender has nothing to do with going to the bathroom and said his idea has actually been carried out for decades through the use of Porta Potties.

“My wife, she was basically a nanny over her neighbor’s kids and had to raise them from birth and one of them is transgender,” he said. “I have a personal relationship with that individual, but not here at USI.”

He said while his policy only intends to remodel the bathrooms, he is willing to alter it going forward

“Economics is dealing with human relationships and human decisions,” Burnett said. “My expertise doesn’t allow me to understand maybe some of the psychological effects at a deep level. It would be nice to get some feedback from that expertise.”