A little while ago Universities were considering introducing gender neutral toilets. After all, University is a time to express yourself, escape the restrictions of living at home and feel a part of something. As well as learn to cook, actually do some washing, and occasionally read a book. While the stereotype profiles of Uni students already have their places, ya know, the academics right at the top of the tree, the upcoming-Beckhams and the dreamers, what happens if you are unknowingly filed away into a different box? Whether you identify as straight, bisexual, gay, pansexual or at another point on the spectrum, why should your identity even come into it? Instead, transgender students are simply considered that – Transgender. They may be the next top model, the next world class chef or the person to cure cancer, so why should we care what they identify as?
The answer is. We shouldn’t. And here at Sauce, we definitely don’t exclude. Now, trans is an umbrella term to include all gender-variant people, whether they feel the opposite to their born gender, or class themselves as non-binary, neither gender, or simply a mix. The rate of self harming trans people is disgustingly high, and why? Because it isn’t just acceptance or ‘coming out’ that trans people struggle with. Some Universities have already taken this step, with a spokesperson from Manchester SU telling the Independent some time ago: “Members and visitors to the union have responded positively to the inclusion of gender neutral toilets, and there have been no complaints to date.”
So why is there still some resistance when it comes to introducing gender neutral toilets? This change could become the next step for equality and liberation, starting with a generation of teens to 20-somethings at University that are growing into themselves and becoming increasingly open minded as they do so. But it isn’t just Universities in the UK that are dubious about this step, with the University of Tennessee retracting advice that encourages the use of gender neutral pronouns. In a post online in August this year, the Uni encourages its tutors not to assume that all students wanted to be referred to as “he” or “she” – and to use gender neutral pronouns such as “they” or “ze” where requested.
However, this created a lot of local and national backlash, with the advice being pulled from their website.
While we’re pleased to say that the University of Northampton opened gender neutral loos by popular demand back in June, it seems there is still some way to go before we as a society are able to look past these ignorant views on gender. But where does this type of education begin? At an early age we should be educated on all types of gender and sexualities in school, and with an open minded view to these matters both at home and in education surely we can be smart enough in this day and age to understand the effects our own ignorance is having?