Most people probably don’t think twice about entering a restroom; it’s a fact of life, and the distinctions – male or female – seem to be clear. This is not the case for transgender members of the university community, however.

With this situation in mind, the LGBTQ Resource Center and GU Pride, with the cooperation of the Office of Residence Life, have begun exploring the possibility of bringing gender-neutral bathrooms to Georgetown. A gender-neutral bathroom is defined as any single- or multiple-occupancy bathroom that does not make gender distinctions. These bathrooms are designed to welcome students of any gender and prevent uncomfortable situations for transgender students.

Across the country, 150 universities have introduced gender-neutral bathrooms on their campuses. Oberlin College has at least one in every residence hall and two in its student union. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has over 65 on its Cambridge campus. On Tuesday, the University of Edinburgh announced the establishment of its first on-campus gender-neutral restroom. The list goes on.

Georgetown, however, has been slower to accommodate transgender students’ needs.

In July, the D.C. Trans Coalition began the Pee in Peace campaign. It seeks to raise awareness of restroom requirements in D.C., which, according to a 2006 amendment to the D.C. Human Rights Act, stipulate that public places equipped with single-stall bathrooms be gender- neutral.

The LGBTQ Resource Center’s initiative seeks to provide options for members of the university community. Better indicators of existing single-stall bathrooms that could be gender-neutral (there has been no active push for multiple-occupancy gender-neutral bathrooms so far) and consideration of the transgender community in the planning of new buildings are the focus of the campaign, according to GU Pride Co-Chair Joseph Graumann (SFS ’11).

Olivia Chitayat (COL ’10), who is spearheading this movement along with the LGBTQ Resource Center, has proposed creating a map that would inform those new to campus of these restrooms’ locations, according to Graumann; this measure would aim to make transgender people feel more welcome on the Hilltop.

Active steps must be taken to ensure this welcoming atmosphere is pervasive on campus, but financial considerations must also be taken into account. Restructuring each classroom and residential building to include gender-neutral bathrooms, which, in dorms, would also have to include showers, would be a cumbersome, costly and time-consuming process.

Some buildings, like Village C, which contain private bathrooms, can better accommodate transgender students. In buildings like the Intercultural Center, existing unisex single-occupancy bathrooms can be clearly labeled as gender-neutral, for example. One Living and Learning Community has proven progressive: The Justice and Diversity in Action floor located in McCarthy Hall, for example, has a gender-neutral, multi-stall bathroom used by all residents.

The real opportunity for progress in this initiative lies in new construction. Any buildings currently in the works should allow space for gender-neutral bathrooms, which, in the early stages of development, would pose little added cost and provide a segment of the Georgetown population with needed accommodations.

As the university responds to the LGBTQ Resource Center’s calls for improvement, it should keep the needs of transgender members of the community in mind. While practical considerations may limit the short-term expansion of gender-neutral restrooms on campus, this does not restrict possibilities for long-term improvement. Just as the administration is obliged to make all new buildings accessible to the physically disabled, it should address the needs of the transgender community as it looks ahead.

**Note:** This article was modified from its original version at 2:56 a.m.

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