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All Gender Restrooms

There is quite a backlog of posts to go through…

Recently, without any announcement or notice from the administration, I woke up to this sign beside the door of one of the restrooms in my dorm:

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Notably, these signs were not put up across all restrooms/bathrooms on campus. The installment seems arbitrary at best. The two bathrooms on my floor have always been used by “anyone… regardless of gender identity or expression” (and no one on my floor/in my dorm has ever complained about it), but they are not embellished with these shiny new signs.

Well, in any case, now that these are up, I cannot help but wonder what motivated these new signs. Obviously, these are for the LGBTQ students on campus. What do they think? Quote from a friend and current Eph ’18 who identifies as trans:

I have used the same bathrooms on campus for three years, and no one has ever socked me in the face for it. This just seems like much ado about nothing. I mean, really, using a bathroom is not complicated… You go in, you do your business, you get out.

But this is just the experience of one trans Eph. Have other LGBTQ students at Williams experienced discrimination when they shower in their dorms or use a restroom? I haven’t heard of any (nor has my friend), but it is certainly possible that my friend group on campus is limited. As always, informed commentary is wanted!

Regardless, since the administration has already taken the time, effort, and endowment money to install these signs, the least they can do is clarify their (new?) bathroom policy. Assuming that no LGBTQ student has been “socked … in the face” for using the bathrooms on campus as they were, the skeptic in me (and my trans friend) might conclude that this is, at best, yet another example of wasteful virtue signalling, or at worst, yet another example of the administration’s unilateral effort to ram their social agenda down the throats of the Williams community. But maybe that is too much! I should be thankful, right? Besides, without the enlightened (expensive?) guidance of the Dean’s Office/Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity/Gender and Sexuality Resource Center/Davis Center, how on earth would an adult oblivious Williams dimwit undergraduate like me ever know which bathrooms to use?

What do readers think?

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#1 Comment By frank uible On April 27, 2017 @ 3:55 pm

In order to be truly equitable “Everyone Must Use This Restroom”.

#2 Comment By anonymous On April 27, 2017 @ 7:08 pm

The sign seems to say: “If you use this restroom, you are handicapped.” That is not very PC.

#3 Comment By JCD On April 27, 2017 @ 7:13 pm

I thought the sign said use this facility if you are tiny enough to slip into the bowl.

#4 Comment By x On April 28, 2017 @ 1:00 pm

Glad someone brought this up. I think you are understating how many of these went up. Sure, not every bathroom, but probably at least 50% of them.

I don’t like it for a few reasons. One, this communicates the exact same thing as saying “Restroom”. Maybe “Unisex Restroom”. That’s what it said before. I don’t think there was ever any confusion regarding this. It’s not like there’s a “spectrum” of bathrooms out there, and we need to specify this one is for everyone. There’s three kinds of bathrooms out there (male, female, unisex), and these bathrooms are unisex. It’s so simple, who the hell thought this was necessary?

Second, it’s wordy. Is this really the way of the future? Having to be this explicit about inclusivity for every bathroom? I don’t like having stupid ass signs full of boring text all over my walls, it makes dormitories feel more impersonal.

Third, this is a permanent response to a fleeting presidential campaign issue, namely the bathroom law in North Carolina. I am guessing that’s when a select few students made a fuss about this and the college bent over backwards for them, like usual. In a few years it will blow over and the idea of transgender people and bathrooms as a political issue will be forgotten, like it was before the campaign.

I think these over-accomodations for transgender students are well-intentioned, but the energy is entirely misplaced. For instance, my sophomore year here, everyone received a pamphlet in their SU box explaining how we should now, every time we meet someone new, immediately ask for their pronouns. First thing, that’s what we should ask. As a WOOLF leader I was told to do this immediately when I met my frosh. They wanted me to put my pronouns on my nametag.

I think most people find this asinine, but nobody really speaks up about it, since it’s a losing battle. But for real, it’s an absurd request to ask people to change how they converse to accommodate a vanishingly small portion of the student body. I have literally never inaccurately guessed someone’s pronouns by looking at them. It works, 99.9% of the time. If someone is that keen on using “they/them/their” or “zis/zim/zeir” (yes that’s a thing) as their pronouns, that’s on them to alert me. Like I’m all for inclusivity, but I guarantee this is not the way of the future. Assuming someone is heterosexual is a little less excusable, since a sizable portion of the population is gay. But that’s kind of where I draw the line, no need to overhaul language structure and conversational conventions to accomodate such a small demographic. It’s petty and annoying.

#5 Comment By JCD On April 28, 2017 @ 6:07 pm

Ironically, most of us wildly overestimate the percentage of the population that is gay.

See, http://www.gallup.com/poll/183383/americans-greatly-overestimate-percent-gay-lesbian.aspx