The Washington State Human Rights Commission recently released clarifications to a law that had been on the books since 2006, created to ensure equal rights for transgender individuals who wish to use restrooms which correspond with no gender identity. SPSCC has been championing the law for almost ten years now, by converting numerous restrooms on campus to designated “Gender Neutral” facilities. A restroom conversion consists of changing the sign on the door, which is provided free of charge by MyDoorSign.com, and adding a lock. This effort has grown lately, thanks mainly to our current Student Senate, led by Lili Wolfe, a member of the Diversity and Equity Committee.
Referred to as a “Legacy Project,” an objective that is picked up by each incoming group of students when one cycle of senators moves on, a version of the plan existed when Wolfe took office. However, she chose to focus on the project because, “Even though we have a really great campus, and for the most part it’s very inclusive, we also don’t have a lot of accessibility to these restrooms.” Efforts are focused on creating a safe, comfortable, and all-inclusive restroom environment for all students, regardless of gender identity and orientation. The process of getting the plan approved is, “multi-step, and not easy,” said Wolfe in an interview with The Sounds. The SPSCC board of trustees must approve any further conversions, after reviewing survey data and a proposal from the Student Senate.
According to Eileen Yoshina, Director of the Diversity and Equity Center at SPSCC, the Gender Neutral Restroom Program has been picking up steam lately. Yoshina stays that, “There has been more awareness about transgender rights and identities—there’s been a lot more information and visibility in the media [in the last decade].” In regard to the college’s new sense of urgency, Yoshina expressed that, “The [strengthened] impetus for the individual bathrooms came because LGBTQ+ students on campus, and their allies, –identified that trans people are much more likely to be at risk of being at least harassed verbally, if not physically, in restrooms.”
Many people view society, and the rights of its citizens, as a pie; which only has so much to go around. At some point, throughout the process of affording certain groups rights and privileges, government must make the tough decision of who to take a portion from. The law itself is receiving much criticism and legitimate concerns have been raised about consequences of letting men into women’s restrooms and vice versa. SPSCC’s focus is the alone standing, lockable restroom; which doesn’t come without some risks itself such as drug use, or sexual abuse; with zero incidents to date. However, what really matters in a conversation about LGBTQ+ and transgender treatment, is how to foster a peaceful and inclusive relationship in social and private settings.