UCD have announced that over 170 toilets throughout their Belfield campus are to be reassigned as 'gender neutral'. As part of these changes they are also set to bring in changing facilities amenable to transgender people in their sports centre.
In concert with these changes the college are also planning to allow transgender students to change their names on official university materials, without requiring gender recognition certificates.
The initiative by the college, to make itself more welcoming and inclusive of transgender and gender-fluid students and employees is set to be launched to by Katherine Zappone. Speaking to The Irish Times she said; "Our universities are drivers of change, promoters of equality and champions of justice."
This comes as part of a much wider movement within Irish universities to make campuses more accommodating to trans and gender neutral students. Several colleges have, within the last couple of years, adapted bathroom facilities to allow them to be re-designated as 'gender neutral', including DCU, DIT and Trinity. Indeed, the latter institution recently announced that they have decided to reclassify 'freshman' students simply as 'fresh' to ungender the term.
With universities often acting as the vanguard of broader societal movements, these sweeping changes surely mark the beginning of the end for gender-specific rooms. While the latent prudishness and deeply embedded sexual shame in Irish culture, as well as just sheer tradition, seem to justify the existence of bathrooms segregated by gender, it's a deeply bizarre idea. Were I to suddenly clamber into the attic in my house and, in a clear affront to all reasonable laws surrounding planning permission, erect some kind of hastily constructed partition wall insisting that only men were allowed in one side of my attic and strictly women in the other, I - and I don't want to overstate things for dramatic purposes - would be scorned. Thankfully though, my construction was discovered when it was still in its nascent stages and, after a stern talking to; a medically supervised intervention from several loved ones and my landlord, as well as a lot of soul-searching, I saw the folly of this project.
In a statement to CollegeTimes.com, Barry Murphy and Eoghan MacDomhnaill, the UCDSU President and Welfare Officer respectively, said of the changes;
"UCD Students Union wholeheartedly welcomes the introduction of Gender-Neutral Bathrooms and changing rooms to UCD. This serves as a reminder that UCD is an equal, diverse and inclusive campus which values all its students no matter what gender they may identify as and will afford each student the same opportunities as the next.
The move has come about after years of lobbying University Management and campaigning by UCDSU. We have now seen not only the introduction of Gender-Neutral Bathrooms and changing rooms on campus but also the formation and implementation of a UCD Gender Identity Policy.
We would like to thank all previous sabbatical officer teams, campaign co-ordinators and UCD students who have all contributed to this progressive achievement."
The changes are set to implemented soon.
H/T: The Irish Times