Members of the Transgender Activist Network as well as members of the Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual and Transgender community on campus have established the organization the Restroom Revolution to raise awareness of their need for neutral or non-gender-specific bathrooms.
The group met from 5 to 7 p.m. yesterday in the Stonewall Center to ask the University of Massachusetts administration to recognize their situation and begin work to remedy it.
According to Mitch Boucher, one of the people in charge of Restroom Revolution, gender-segregated bathrooms cause a serious problem for most transgender students.
“The issue for us is that most transgender people do not fit any of the categories as our culture defines them,” Boucher said. This is the basic reason for the formation of the group, which has been attempting to make progress to this end for an entire year.
Boucher claimed that the work required to create gender-neutral bathrooms on campus would not be a formidable task. The group believes that a process of conversion of some single-stall bathrooms would be a step in the right direction.
“All it would really take is changing some of the signs,” on the bathroom doors to no longer reflect a gender-specific requirement, he said.
Eventually the group hopes to establish one gender-neutral bathroom in each building on campus and also one on every third floor of dormitory buildings. According to Restroom Revolution, the problem arises, however, when taking away bathrooms already assigned to a particular gender, and re-designating them as gender-neutral. The bathroom no longer counts as either a male bathroom or a female bathroom, and thus renders most, if not all buildings no longer compliant with building code.
AJ Crittendon, one of the founding members of Restroom Revolution, is skeptical of the existence of these codes and has formed a committee within the group to research these matters.
“We’ve never seen these codes or laws written down on paper,” he said.
Crittendon said that he has met other challenges as well since he first started his attempts to initiate change. He said that he has been taking the proper steps to help his cause, but that people in the administration are reluctant to respond.
“Basically, no one really got back to me. Nothing ever really came of what I did.”
Crittendon claimed that at one point he was successful in negotiations to create two gender-neutral bathrooms – one in Prince dormitory and one in Wheeler dormitory – but efforts were later curbed by increasing parental concern before either of the gender-neutral bathrooms ever appeared on campus.
One such concern is for the safety of those using the bathrooms. Those concerned argue that allowing equal access to the bathroom for both men and women could facilitate sexual crimes. To that, Crittendon replied that in the case of single-sex bathrooms, the gender-specific sign on the door does not prevent someone willing to commit a crime from entering. Because of this, Crittendon views the two situations as equal safety concerns.
Restroom Revolution is now organized in their efforts to make change, as they see it, in the simple interest of fairness to all people.
Ed Kammerer, one of the members of the group, expressed the persistence of Restroom Revolution when he said that he wants the community to know that the group will continue to meet and work towards their goal.
“Be aware that it is not just a one time deal,” he said.
In fact, four committees have now been established within the group, all focused on affecting change from different avenues of pursuit. One committee is in charge of researching legal issues that the group may face as it continues towards its goal. Another is responsible for publicity, including flyers, letters, and press releases. A third committee has the tasks of organizing petitions, rallies, and other things that “put pressure on the University.” The fourth committee is interested in starting relations with other colleges and possibly coordinating efforts with similar groups at those schools.
Restroom Revolution will hold its next meeting on Oct. 23 at 5 p.m. at the Stonewall Center.