Content Warning: The following article contains discussion or mention of the following: transmisogyny, transphobia, dysphoria, queerphobia, assault, harassment and gender policing.
In my role as Queer Officer, one of the things I will be focusing on this year is campaigning for Gender Neutral Bathrooms on campus. I am also aiming to make the bathrooms as accessible as possible, and for them to have baby change facilities. These things are necessary for all students, staff and visitors on campus and I hope to make as many of these facilities available as is possible. Having bathrooms that are accessible to as many people as possible is very important, and should be mandatory.
That is why I am endeavouring to make them as accessible and friendly as possible. As a person who identifies as Gender Diverse, I feel as though it is very important for TISGD (Trans,* Intersex, Sex and Gender Diverse) identifying individuals to feel safe and comfortable whilst also being able to use a bathroom that is relevant to their needs. Although I do not identify as an individual with a disability, or have children, it must be recognised that everyone has different and unique needs, that should be catered for. People who identify with these things all have differing needs, however I think they would all agree that ultimately they just want to feel safe, comfortable, and at ease when using these facilities.
Gender Diverse and TISGD identifying individuals may sometimes experience some not so great things when using gender segregated bathrooms. They may experience things such as dysphoria, harassment, assault, gender-policing, transmisogyny, transphobia, anxiety and/or panic, as well as feeling generally unwelcome. Having bathrooms that are not gender segregated is one thing that we and the university can change in order to make some people feel more comfortable and at ease when using these facilities. It is important to remember that this will not alleviate all of these things for all TISGD people, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.
Last year brought about the release of the latest Sex and Gender Recognition Guidelines, now recognised under federal law. This was an important step towards the recognition of TISGD people in Australia. Unfortunately there are some discrepancies between federal and state law, meaning that not everywhere has to effectively adhere to these guidelines. It would be fantastic to see Monash and other universities across Australia (and everywhere, for that matter!) adopt guidelines such as these, and thus show their support for their TISGD staff and students on campus.
There are many different ways bathrooms can be made Gender Neutral:the signage could be changed, or the insides modified, or both of these things could be done. In terms of the facilities inside being changed, they can be modified by the addition or removal of urinals, of walls, and of stalls and cubicles. There is also the question of how many different bathrooms there will be – will there be two, three, or even one? As this campaign is only in its formative early stages, it is unclear at this point which of these things exactly we will be aiming for, but will be able to come to a decision once we have engaged with the appropriate people and heard what individuals and collectives have to say.
As I do not identify as an individual with a disability, or have children, I think it is only appropriate to collaborate and connect with people from these groups before going ahead with anything. Do you identify with these things? Run a collective? Want your input heard? Have ideas? Please don’t hesitate to contact me, either via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at the queer office on campus, located in central space just behind the lounge. Alternatively, if you would like to speak to me on the phone, send me an email and I will happily give you my number.
Freddie Wright is one of the MSA’s Queer Officers