Why Have All Of Our Gendered Bathroom Signs Suddenly Changed?: An Update From The Queer Agenda

The Clerk has received the following letter and wishes to share it with the community on behalf of the writers. We will keep the writers anonymous out of respect for their wishes, and for their safety. We hope to engage the campus in an important, critical dialogue. For questions or responses, please contact our Editor-in-Chief Maurice Rippel (mrippel@haverford.edu).

Dear Community,

If you are an avid user of bathrooms around campus that say “Men” or “Women” on them, you might’ve woken up on Friday to a little bit of a change – all of your bathroom signs have been covered by paper signs that say “All-Gender Bathroom” on them. What’s the deal with that?

Here’s the backstory:

A few queer and trans identifying students have been working on a project to get administrative support for LGBTQ+ needs. We’re calling ourselves The Queer Agenda, with the awareness that SAGA (Sexuality and Gender Alliance) no longer functionally exists. We’re hoping to start to address the immediate and longterm changes that need to occur in order to make Haverford a safe(r) and more accessible place for queer and trans individuals.

One of our most immediate issues is bathrooms; specifically, that the number of all-gender restrooms on this campus is highly limited. Gendered bathrooms (bathrooms that say either “Men” or “Women” on them) are often unsafe spaces for queer students, particularly trans, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming students, as we often worry about being physically or verbally assaulted, being misgendered, and experiencing gender dysphoria (distress a person experiences as a result of a disconnection from the gender they were assigned at birth) as a result of having to enter bathrooms that don’t match our gender identities.

Many trans people on our campus have been filled me with a sense of panic or a sense of despair when using a public gendered bathroom. We’ve been stared at, yelled at, and straight-up asked to leave, when going into public gendered bathrooms. Sometimes these experiences are worse.

There are a few all-gender bathrooms in our school, but many are inaccessible, and force students to walk a long way to get there. The KINSC, for example, only has one all-gender bathroom. It’s on the fourth floor and very hard to find. The Campus Center also only has one on the third floor. The GIAC currently has no all-gender bathrooms. Consider this: During Plenary, if trans Haverfordians want to pee, they are forced to pick a gendered bathroom to pee in, or leave the GIAC, walk into the campus center, and up to the third floor, to do so. Founders also has no all-gender bathrooms. It should be noted that schools like Bryn Mawr have majority all-gender bathrooms – what we’re doing is not, in this sense, revolutionary, but practical and necessary for making everyone in our community feel safe.

So, we’ve changed all of the bathroom signs to say “All-Gender Restroom” on them.

This may sound a little bit freaky to some folks that are used to being in specifically gendered bathrooms. Here’s some things to remember:

  1. All of our dorms have gender-neutral bathrooms! If you live on this campus and pee in your dorm, then you have peed in a bathroom open to people of all genders.
  2. If you’ve been in the DC basement, you’ve peed in a public all-gender bathroom!
  3. Your bathroom space has not changed at all, except for the sign on the door.
  4. This change is going to make a lot of trans people feel a lot less stressed about peeing.

We, as The Queer Agenda, plan on getting the school to change all of the bathrooms to make them all all-gender bathrooms. Thus far, we have held two dinners titled “Re-Thinking Queer Life At Haverford” where queer and trans students of various experiences and identities spoke about the struggles they face as queer and trans students on Haverford’s campus. We hope to use this information to start organizing our focuses and goals for the coming semester. In regards to bathrooms, we plan on presenting a proposal for changing our school’s bathroom signs to various members of upper administration. Currently, we are in the preliminary stages of establishing an administrative working group and the goals for that group. During this process, we want to show the school how changing all of our bathroom signs is incredibly easy for the school to do, has no negative ramifications on the student body, and will help make many students feel safer here.

In changing the signs ourselves, we’re doing a bit of an experiment to show people that all-gender bathrooms are nothing to be afraid of. Even more than that, we want to show you that having all-gender bathrooms all over the school will make countless students feel less afraid.


The Queer Agenda

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