Liam Stone said he has not used a public bathroom in years.
“The last time must have been in high school,” the English language junior said. “I graduated in 2005.”
Stone is a transgender individual who identifies as a “trans masculine gender queer,” and doesn’t feel comfortable using public male or female restrooms anywhere. Stone uses his apartment’s bathroom.
“The fact that I have to plan my day so carefully is something to consider,” he said.
Kallie Wilson and John Morris are collecting the information necessary to file a formal proposal to improve the gender-neutral bathroom identification at UTA. Both are graduate interns for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Ally Program.
Wilson said it’s not easy to locate gender neutral, unisex or single-occupancy bathrooms on campus. The only facility Wilson and Morris are able to recognize is a single-occupancy restroom in the Maverick Activities Center.
“There may be more but they’re not labeled,” said Morris.
Wilson and Morris believe that transstudents are marginalized, even at a diverse university like UTA.
Frank Lamas, Student Affairs vice president, said there are no plans for more unisex bathrooms on campus.
“The topic has come up and we are in conversations about implementing more what you call ‘unisex bathrooms,’ but there is no definite plan as of right now,” he said.
Lamas said to be sensitive to the needs of students, it may be necessary for more gender-neutral bathrooms in the future. Lamas said he has not received an official request for a unisex bathroom.
Wilson said she hopes their research will be finalized soon and aims to turn in a formal proposal to locate, identify and implement more gender-neutral bathrooms on campus to Lamas by semester’s end.
UTA Facilities Management has identified existing bathrooms in on-campus housing over the last few weeks that will be converted to unisex in Arbor Oaks apartments, Meadow Run apartments, Trinity House, Arlington Hall and Lipscomb Hall, university spokeswoman Kristin Sullivan said.
Part of the research Wilson and Morris have done includes looking at how other universities work to improve the campus experience for transstudents. Wilson said UT-Austin has 26 advertised gender-neutral bathrooms. The bathrooms are labeled with the typical male-and-female sign with the words “accessible bathroom.”
Wilson said she was initially offended for transstudents with the use of the male-and-female sign as she felt it perpetuated the gender binary in society.
“Trans students seem to feel it’s more important just to get the facility than what the sign says,” Wilson said.
Morris said Stone has been the only transstudent willing to participate and be visible in LGBTQA events.
“We have so few transstudents who are out at UTA that it lulls us into thinking everything is OK, when it’s not really,” Stone said.