News / Toronto

Ryerson students campaign for more gender-neutral washrooms

A group representing transgender students at Ryerson University is calling for every building on campus to have an equal number of male, female and all-gender bathrooms.

“We believe using a bathroom is a human right,” said Markus Harwood-Jones, coordinator of the university’s Trans Collective group. “Many buildings on campus have only male and female bathrooms, which transgender people don’t necessarily feel comfortable using.”

Harwood-Jones, who also goes by “Star” because Markus is a “very gendered” name, said Ryerson is a progressive campus but can do better.

University spokesman Michael Forbes said there are about 43 unisex bathrooms already available on campus and a committee is working on recommendations to address students’ concerns.

University of Toronto’s downtown campus has at least one all-gender bathroom in each building, according to information from the campus’ facilities office.

Trans Collective, meanwhile, argues there many buildings at Ryerson where not even one such bathroom is available.

“All we are hoping to do for now is to have some signs that read ‘all-gender bathrooms’ instead of just male or female,” Harwood-Jones said. “We reached out to the administration last year, but the process has been slow going, and we’re constantly told to wait.”

The group put up “all-gender” signs outside washrooms in one building but was told to take them down and wait for approval, Hardwood-Jones said.

“And in the meantime, transgender students are left in mental and physical pain, having to use bathrooms that don’t make them feel totally safe,” he said.

By end of this year, the group hopes to have all-gender bathrooms in the Student Campus Centre and the Victoria Building, two of the most frequented spots on campus.

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