MSU students discuss merits of all gender bathrooms
Using the restroom with other people present can be an uncomfortable experience, especially when that restroom feels like the wrong one, public policy and economics senior and chair of The Alliance of Queer and Ally Students Keiran Todd said.
On March 23, North Carolina legislature passed a law that reversed a Charlotte ordinance in a move that has stirred up controversy the past couple months. The reversed ordinance gave transgender people the option to use public restrooms correlating to their gender identity. Instead, people would be required to use the restroom of the gender listed on their birth certificate.
The bill has not been well received by some members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community at MSU, Todd said.
“It’s just a bill to kind of, in my opinion, discriminate against anyone who isn’t cisgender,” Todd said.
Todd identifies as non-binary, meaning they define themselves as a neither a man or woman. When it comes to the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, or HB2, Todd said they are not a fan.
“It’s really frustrating," Todd said. "Being someone who is non-binary especially and someone who presents masculine but was assigned female at birth, it’s like walking into any restroom is really uncomfortable because a lot of people are very narrow-minded and people only look one way and people who were born female shouldn’t dress a certain way and stuff like that.”
It hasn’t just affected them, Todd said. They also have friends who have been harassed for using certain bathrooms or even dressing in certain ways.
“Personally, it’s uncomfortable," Todd said. "It’s even more uncomfortable to think that a lot of my friends who are trans women, who are probably the most marginalized in our community, are harassed when they go into the bathroom just because of who they are. It’s just frustrating and disappointing, disappointing to think that people could be that cruel.”
Food science sophomore and ally of the LGBT community Sarah Wilcox recounted a time when a friend who was transitioning into a woman was afraid to use restrooms by herself.
Wilcox said she felt it was wrong that a transgender person should be frightened about using a restroom when they have so many other things to worry about.
“We've got to make people feel comfortable," Wilcox said. "A trans person is already going through enough stuff in their life trying to feel better about themselves, like in their own gender identity and then they’re told, ‘no, you have to go back to something that makes you feel incredibly uncomfortable.' I just think that’s incredibly wrong and encroaching on their First Amendment rights for the pursuit of happiness and freedom.”
On May 18, MSU published an update on the bathroom policy on campus. The U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education, under federal guidance, decreed students and employees of the university may use the restroom that matches their gender identity.
Wilcox, who just transferred to MSU this year, said she felt the university was making progress with the update and with the all-gender bathrooms.
“I think the fact that MSU has all-gender bathrooms is a great step forward,” she said. “To have such a large and prestigious university make that step might encourage other universities to make that same step.”
Todd isn’t as impressed. MSU might have the bathrooms, but they are not easily accessible to students just walking down the street, Todd said. If a person has a disability, they might not be able to reach the restroom at all.
“They’d have to go to the basement in Student Services, which is far away from a lot of other things and a lot of other people,” Todd said.
According to the all gender campus bathroom map, 57 of the 545 buildings on MSU’s campus have all gender bathrooms available. Of the 57, approximately 17 only have one all-gender restroom in the building.
“I don’t think it’s something that should stop being discussed,” Todd said.