Students, faculty campaign for gender-neutral bathrooms

The gender-neutral bathroom in the basement of Cabell Library is one of six on campus.

Cyrus Nuval 
Staff Writer

Students and faculty members are pushing VCU to install more non-gender-specific bathrooms.

As of now, there are six officially designated gender-neutral bathrooms on the Monroe Park campus, according to the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs’ LGBT Safer Bathrooms list.

The list shows gender-neutral bathrooms at Crenshaw House, Cabell Library, Cary Street Gym, 500 Academic Centre, the Honors College residence hall and Harris Hall.

Many of the repurposed houses on Grace Street and the repurposed storefronts on Broad Street also have gender-neutral bathrooms. However, this is often because the size of the buildings can only accommodate a single bathroom on each floor, said Elizabeth Canfield, a professor in VCU’s Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies.

However, many of the newer buildings on the Monroe Park and Medical campuses still only have separate men’s and women’s bathrooms.

Adrien Creger, an English major and a trans man, said there are still not enough gender-neutral bathrooms on campus.

“I think more gender-neutral restrooms should be made available,” Creger said. “I can say that I was disappointed to find that the brand-new Academic Learning Commons building does not have accessible, gender-neutral restrooms on all floors, even though it has a shower.”

Canfield, an advocate for gender-neutral bathrooms, said they are important because there is a significant amount of transgender and gender-nonconforming people who are part of the VCU community.

“(Gender-neutral bathrooms) create a space where folks who don’t fit the tight and oppressive gender binary can go do what we all know is a private and intimate thing,” Canfield said.

She said the gender-neutral bathrooms have helped ease a friend on campus.

“My friend and I left a VCU basketball game at the Siegel Center last year so they could use the Crenshaw House bathroom … they were afraid if they used the ‘women’s’ bathroom they would be kicked out, and if they used the ‘men’s’ bathroom they would be assaulted.”

Creger said he has also been personally affected by this issue.

“I haven’t experienced any sort of violence or confrontation in a restroom at VCU, though I have been accused of being in the wrong bathroom, when there was no other viable option for me,” Creger said.

Brendan Hall, a trans man and English major said if the university prides itself on diversity, it should address the issue.

“It is necessary for there to be more gender-inclusive additions to the way our campus’ bathrooms are set up, so that we can be the diverse and inclusive campus VCU claims to be,” Hall said. “For many (transgender) folks, having to use the restroom and not wanting to use a public restroom can cause a lot of anxiety and dysphoria, including myself.”

Brian Ohlinger, the associate vice president of VCU’s Facilities Management, did not respond to requests for a comment as of press time.

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