by Jonathan Moniz, Staff Writer
On UMass Dartmouth’s campus, 62 all-gender, single stall restrooms have opened across campus, in compliance with Massachusetts law.
As pioneered by the Center for Woman, Gender, and Sexuality and led by Dr. Juli Parker, the UMass Dartmouth Campus has opened up 62 all gender restrooms to accommodate and “be a more welcoming university and providing safety to students who are non-binary or who don’t identify as transgender.”
Massachusetts, in compliance with the transgender discrimination law, has outlawed the discrimination against transgender people and others who don’t identify with a sexuality and/or gender. The inclusion of these new restrooms is a step forward in the ideal of the act.
Many transgender students often experience physical and physiological difficulties when in transition from their born-gender to the one they identify with. Struggling with possible harassment or persecution they may face from having to use the restroom of their gender at birth, these new restrooms offer them a more comfortable alternative.
In addition, “it also avoids the uncomfortable and harrowing situations many would face when restricted by law to use the restroom of their gender at birth,” Dr. Parker explained. Within states like Indiana that passed a religious liberties act, the restriction could become potentially dangerous.
Going further into the history of it, Dr. Parker said she was “proud of Massachusetts as being so progressive” and forward thinking in it’s acts and laws to accommodate for the differences in people. Since Massachusetts was the first state to legalize gay marriage, she is hopeful for the future and the message this will send.
She also described the intense difficulties of those transitioning, in particular from male to female, because of the intense changes experienced by the hormone testosterone as opposed to estrogen.
Regarding the recent election of Donald J. Trump however, she did express some concerns about measures such as these being established at the national and statewide level, but ultimately was still faithful in Massachusetts for being progressive.
The measures for implementing the restrooms had been started and formulated as a plan “in minute detail in 2014 but had started when the office (Center for Women, Gender, and Sexuality) began accepting transgender students in 2011.”
Transgender people and people with no gender had often faced intense discrimination for their differences in earlier years, and had been subjected to harassment by their fellow students. There was hope that this would change with the implementation of the new restrooms, and that it would promote openness as a campus.
Designating many single stall restrooms as all-gender restrooms included a changing of the sign. The sign for the new restrooms now being replaced with a two-hand washing symbol to indicate the bathroom.
Overall, Dr. Parker saw these restrooms as being evident of a real change and a forward movement in the overall landscape of the university and a definite progressive change for the university.
The 62 all-gender restrooms will be available in all five buildings on campus.