VANCOUVER (CUP)—Everyone, regardless of gender, should share the same washrooms, says an SFU student.
Rhiannon Coppin, a former engineering science representative to the Simon Fraser Student Society forum, says it is time to integrate women’s and men’s washrooms at Simon Fraser University.
“There really is no point in separating us at all,” Coppin said, citing a number of problems with the current washroom system.
Coppin says segregated washrooms marginalize people who fall outside of or challenge dominant conceptions of gender, which see women and men as a binary opposition. Trans people, as well as women who look masculine and men who look feminine by social “standards,” may experience humiliation or intimidation from stares and comments while using their respective facilities.
Statistics drawn from medical records estimate that one out of every 100 people deviates from the biological or physical “norms” of female or male at birth. Individuals identifying as intersex or as a gender other than woman or man are excluded from gender-specific washrooms.
Coppin maintains that a system of gender-neutral washrooms is the solution to these problems. The engineering student also predicts that women would benefit from a greater number of stalls and consequently a reduction in line-ups.
“Women won’t have to wait in lines and ‘borderline’ people won’t feel excluded,” said Coppin.
The washroom integration advocate, however, does recognize that her proposal raises significant concerns. A common one is the loss of the privacy women and men enjoy from having separate facilities.
As well, women’s washrooms have a different structure and perhaps even distinct expectations of sanitation than men’s washrooms. A serious concern is violence against women, as many women may feel safer in women-only spaces.
Coppin says integrated washrooms would actually be safer.