If you are not a woman, and you are not a man — or at least don’t identify yourself as either — which public restroom do you go in?
At Kansas University’s Ambler Student Recreation Fitness Center you can avoid the conundrum by choosing one of the newly labeled “all gender” restrooms.
Graduate student Hugo Macías Jr. led an effort to put new signs — which are temporary for now, with permanent ones on the way, he said — outside three single-occupancy restrooms at the rec center.
One is an ADA-accessible changing room with a shower and toilet previously labeled simply as a changing room, he said. The other two are in the administrative area; one was labeled women and the other men.
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“If you ever have a guest or student looking for a gender-neutral restroom and they’re labeled as men and women ... well, that puts them in a curious situation,” Macías said. “They’re single-use, they’re private, why not change them to be labeled as gender neutral to be more inclusive?”
Macías said being more “intentional” about the wording would make the facility more inviting for people who identify as gender-neutral or ambiguous.
Macías, who describes himself as an ally trying to support gender-neutral students, is a second-year master’s student in higher education administration who currently has an internship at the rec center.
The rec center restrooms are the latest to join a campuswide list of more than 20 other similar single-occupancy, lockable restrooms identified as not gender-specific.
KU’s Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity lists those restrooms — many of which are signed as family restrooms — on its website at silc.ku.edu/gender-neutral-restrooms.
“We are particularly concerned in offering these restrooms to those individuals who are transgender or gender-queer, those with disabilities who have an attendant of a different sex/gender, and parents with young children of another sex/gender,” the website states.
The signs on the rec center restrooms picture a traditional restroom-sign male figure, female figure, wheelchair figure and a new figure — a combination of the male and female figures, with a skirt on just one side. Small print beneath them explains that anyone is welcome to use the restroom.
Macías said when the new signs at the rec center hit social media, they got a positive response.
“People are excited about this,” he said. “It’s the little things that count.”