First gender-neutral toilets at EUC
Last Thursday, EUC paved the way for a more aware, tolerant and accepting academic community. While discussions for gender neutral toilets at Woudestein are stalling, Iris Bos and Maarten Frens have pushed for the initiative at our Nieuwemarkt campus. As of last week, the men’s and women’s symbols on the ground floor toilets were replaced with a gender-neutral symbol and the urinals were closed off.
EUC is a community that strives to be as inclusive as possible, and opening a gender-neutral toilet is a clear illustration of that. However, it is important to dispel the belief that gender-neutral toilets are specifically reserved for transgenders. As a matter of fact, the toilet is and will be used by everybody, and instead the real benefit lies in making it easier for people who do not wish to fit into the label of ‘men’ or ‘women’ to access public bathrooms. Additionally, the bathroom also caters for individuals that are uncertain about their gender as it does not force them to choose between the two genders, potentially making the transition process more comfortable and less complicated. After all, nobody has gender-specific bathrooms in their own home, so there’s no reason to see it as taboo for public bathrooms. Having a gender-neutral toilet at EUC refers to having a unisex toilet in which every person can go, regardless of which gender this person belongs to or feels like. Additionally, placing the gender-neutral toilet on the ground floor instead of the basement was a conscious decision to avoid marginalizing the issue.
At first glance, it does not seem that anything changed as the bathroom mostly remained the same (i.e. walls were not taken down), but if looked at a bit more closely two minor details can be noticed. First, all the signs that refer to a gender have been removed and replaced by a gender-inclusive sign (as seen on the picture). Second, the urinals are covered, which means that there is no difference between either bathrooms.. It is interesting to notice that, due to old habits, our students still intrinsically use the bathrooms that were previously labeled for their respective gender. However, on the long term and with new batch of students it will have the potential to truly change people’s mentality towards genders, making it less of a ‘black-and-white’ concept. In the end, regardless of the gender, bathrooms are used for the same reasons, and there should not be the need for separation in a respectful and accepting environment.