A group of trans and non-binary students have started a campaign to “remove gender” from on-campus toilets.
Gender Liberation Sussex, the organisation behind the campaign, has launched a petition on change.org, which has already received 91 signatures. They have also affixed stickers which read: “This toilet has been liberated from the gender binary.”
The text on the petition says that “using public toilets is a constant source of anxiety” for trans people at Sussex. It goes on to call “traditional male and female toilet options “exclusive and dangerous.”
According to the campaigners, “simply rebranding single stall toilets is not enough. They are not safe. They are not helpful. The violence that trans people face in public toilets is not their fault. If you remove the gendering of toilets completely, no one can tell you you’re in the wrong one. No one can expose your identity as a trans person. No one can tell you who you are.”
Most of these stickers around campus have since been removed. The GLS organisation claim the stickers were to help transgender people feel more comfortable in the campus bathrooms, and to get people talking about the issue, particularly “the violence faced by trans people in public toilets.”
President of the UKIP Society Will Saunders wrote on Facebook: “There are lots of gender-neutral toilets on campus. The University should recognise that there are many students who feel far more comfortable with traditional gender roles, and it should cater for those students as well, by ensuring that these remain.” The comment, left on Activities Officer Lyndsay Burtonshaw’s professional Facebook, received 9 likes.
Paul Millar, another commenter on the Facebook thread, said he had signed the petition, but that he wasn’t sure if “all should become gender-neutral immediately, especially in bars, due to the awkwardness and harrassment it would likely cause for people – the vast majority of the current student body have been brought up the way they’ve been brought up”.
The University commented: “The rebranding of toilets previously was done in collaboration and discussion with Rianna, the Welfare officer from the Student Union and was based on the best advice available at that time.” We would be happy to discuss with Rianna any possible alternatives to the current system that is in place.”
Phoebe Day News Sub-editor