By the fall, Wesleyan will have a mix of new all-gender single-use and gendered multi-use bathrooms. After the trans* activism in the fall, when gendered bathroom signs were taken off most campus bathrooms, new all-gender bathroom signs popped up in many campus buildings (Exley, Usdan, North College, 41 Wyllys are the ones I noticed firsthand). By the end of this summer, “a new all-gender bathroom will be created on the ground floor of Olin, next to the existing men’s and women’s rooms,” according to University Librarian Pat Tully. “It is being created out of an existing custodial closet, which will be moved just down the hall.”
Physical Plant has gradually installed new bathroom signs across campus, and they committed to complete the installation before the end of the summer. Vice President for Student Affairs Dean Mike Whaley pledged to publish a list of the all-gender bathrooms online once the installations are done. According to him, “We actually have quite a lot of single-use all gender restrooms across campus, but awareness about where they are located needs to be better.”
On a related note, the fines paid by the trans* activists for taking down the original signs only represented a “tiny fraction of the total cost” of the new all-gender signs, according to Dean Whaley. And instead of paying fees, some of the activists worked to install the new signs. The gendered multi-use bathrooms will also have new signs that indicate where the location of the nearest all-gender bathroom is.
Below is the full memo by Dean Whaley and the WSA (originally drafted 11/20/13) outlining plans for de-gendering bathrooms and posting new all-gender signs. These plans should be completed by the end of the summer:
NOTE FROM BZOD: About a month ago, a group called the Pissed Off Trans* People pulled down a number of gendered bathroom signs around campus, replacing them with paper all gender bathroom signs and a manifesto entitled “All Gender Bathrooms Now.” Two days ago, an anonymous poster published the following article on tumblr under the title “Complete Bullshit: An Update on the Trans* De-Gendering Bathroom Situation.” I was contacted by the author of the post and the students being SJB’d and confirmed the story. The complete text of that tumblr post is reproduced below.
So, a few weeks back, there was an outpouring of trans* activism. I mean that like when you put a lot of pressure on a water balloon and then the water bursts out of a hole. Yeah, the water made the hole and hurt the balloon. But the water only gushed out because of all the fucking pressure being put on the damn balloon. (and why was this water being trapped in a balloon in the first place?)
My point being, yes, fed up trans* students and angry cis allies took down and broke the single-gender bathroom signs around campus. They did this because they were sick of the system that marginalizes and endangers trans* folk. This move was pretty controversial on campus. But that’s not what I want to write about today.
Today, the issue at stake is the University’s response. Now, students taking part in this action knew they were doing something illegal/against the rules/risky. As such they have remained anonymous when participating in media coverage and the action was instigated under the anonymous Facebook account PissedOff Trans* People. They provided materials on Facebook for marking bathrooms as all-gendered. These materials have been downloaded 200 times, which gives you an idea of the scale of interest and possibly participation in this action.
I’m sitting right now in 41 Wyllys Room 112 for the Open Forum on Gender-Neutral Bathrooms and Trans* Activism. This forum is co-hosted by WesDEF, Wesleying, Open House, and QueerWes, and will be facilitated by WesDEF – specifically, Mariama Eversley ’14 and Leah Bakely ’16.
This will be a safe space for people to discuss their thoughts, concerns, and opinions of the recent trans* activism that has been de-gendering bathrooms in the last few weeks. Given that this is a safe space, Wesleying (in this case, hermes, sneeze, and I) will not be recording the names of participants. This will also be a serious liveblog. We will be providing an as-close-to-verbatim-as-possible record of what is said in the forum without critiquing opinions with which we may not agree.
We’ll be going over definitions and vocabulary surrounding trans* issues at the start of the forum, but check out TransWhat if you’re interested in a short glossary of relevant terms and information on what it means to be trans*. If you’re bewildered by the fact that this discussion forum exists or are wondering why all the bathroom signs have vanished recently, read my post “All Gender Bathrooms Now” – Pissed Off Trans* People on the DIY Gender-Neutralizing of Wesleyan’s Bathrooms. I’ll also be putting a few more features related to this up in the next few days.
Click past the jump for the liveblog.
BZOD UPDATE, 11/5/13, 4:09 PM: We’ve officially moved this across the hall from 41 Wyllys Room 115 to 41 Wyllys Room 112 due to space concerns.
On Tuesday, November 5 at 7:00 PM in 41 Wyllys Room 112, WesDEF (Wesleyan Diversity Education Facilitators), Wesleying, Open House, and QueerWes, will be hosting an an open forum to discuss people’s thoughts, concerns, and opinions about the recent trans* activism on campus – including, but not limited to the gender-neutralizing of bathrooms. The forum will be facilitated by WesDEF and will include vegan snacks.
Wesleying will be doing a liveblog of the discussion (which will, of course, not log names of anyone speaking). Anyone who has opinions about gender-neutral bathrooms or trans* activism, or wants to better understand trans* issues, should attend. We’d love to have as many sides as possible represented in the discussion.