Reimag­in­ing in­clu­sion at Gren­fell Cam­pus

The Western Star - - CLOSE TO HOME - Dr. Rie Croll Dr. Rie Croll is an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor in so­cial and cul­tural stud­ies at Gren­fell Cam­pus

Us­ing the bath­room is a ba­sic hu­man need. But, for those who iden­tify as trans­gen­der, gen­der non-con­form­ing, non-bi­nary, or In­ter­sex (among oth­ers), the thought of us­ing a pub­lic wash­room can cause dis­tress or fear. Gen­der-des­ig­nated wash­rooms lack pri­vacy and ac­ces­si­bil­ity for many users, in­clud­ing those who have per­sonal health re­quire­ments or mo­bil­ity chal­lenges, those who are trans­gen­der or tran­si­tion­ing, and those who may re­quire as­sis­tance from some­one of a dif­fer­ent gen­der— such as chil­dren and the el­derly.

The Cana­dian Hu­man Rights Act and Crim­i­nal Code clar­ify the right of all peo­ple to use a wash­room that cor­re­sponds with their gen­der iden­tity and sup­port the de­vel­op­ment of more in­clu­sive spa­ces.

Last se­mes­ter, one of my so­ci­ol­ogy classes in­ves­ti­gated the need for more “gen­der-in­clu­sive” wash­rooms at Gren­fell. Pub­lic bath­rooms, they found, are places where many peo­ple feel com­pelled to “pass” as ei­ther male or fe­male in or­der to feel safe. When they don’t pass, bul­ly­ing and even vi­o­lence can re­sult.

While Gren­fell al­ready has two gen­der-in­clu­sive wash­rooms, the stu­dents wanted to find out if our cam­pus was re­spond­ing to the needs of all. So, for a few hours one af­ter­noon, they trans­formed two wash­rooms into all-gen­der wash­rooms. From there, they col­lected com­ments and en­gaged ques­tions from those who in­tended to use the mod­i­fied wash­rooms and from in­ter­ested passers-by.

The stu­dents’ project in­volved weeks of re­search that in­ves­ti­gated forms of vi­o­lence and discrimina­tion against the LGBTQ+ com­mu­nity, such as the “gen­der bor­der pa­trol” (the so­cial mon­i­tor­ing of gen­der ex­pres­sion). Pub­lic wash­rooms, where such surveil­lance oc­curs, can be un­safe. Al­ter­na­tively, all-gen­der wash­rooms ease gen­der scru­tiny. My stu­dents found that the Gren­fell com­mu­nity was gen­er­ally open to see­ing more gen­der-in­clu­sive wash­rooms on cam­pus. Feed­back in­di­cated that an an­tiop­pres­sive en­vi­ron­ment would en­hance the well­be­ing of the whole cam­pus.

The so­ci­ol­ogy class hoped that their project would in­spire a reimag­in­ing of in­clu­sion at Gren­fell and cre­ate “a new sense of whose iden­tity is valid, whose gen­der is valid, and whose life is valid.”

Gren­fell is cur­rently plan­ning to mod­ify two more of its wash­rooms, mak­ing them gen­der­in­clu­sive.

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