Photo by Wayan Vota
Painters swept through Hunter recently. Their first stop was the bathroom in the northern half of the third floor of Thomas Hunter. This is, officially, a woman’s bathroom. It is also the bathroom closet to the QSU(Queer Student Union), where many transgender students gather. Trans students need bathrooms, and the QSU unnoficially claimed this one.
Before the painters arrived, a group of cis-women wrote aggressive messages on the door in red marker, scribbling out “Gender-Neutral” and replacing it with “Women only!” Transfolk responded—also in marker—and the door became the battlefield for a flamewar.
It ended when someone reiterated the bathroom’s gender-neutral status and dared “If you have a problem, take it up with Hunter.”
Red marker: “We will!”
This bathroom has no urinals, only closed-door stalls. If anyone sees someone else’s genitals in this bathroom, one of them is doing something wrong.
Photo by Jeferonix
Still, the only official gender-neutral bathrooms on the entire campus (of 22,000+ students) are the two single-person bathrooms on the second floor of the North building. This policy ignores New York City laws, which ban gender discrimination in bathrooms—but I don’t see many public restrooms that don’t come in pairs, the door to each wearing a stylized silhouette of a human either with or without a dress.
The QSU’s push to have the bathroom officially recognized as gender neutral has been unsuccessful. After the painters covered the hate speech, the QSU started a petition to have the campus declare the gender-neutral bathroom official. Nothing yet. We expect the push to be hard, though. QSU officers waited two weeks after requesting the graffiti be removed before the painters arrived, and when the painters did they stuck two temporary “WOMEN” signs to the wall near the bathroom.
The city has clear laws against gender discrimination in its bathrooms, and Hunter is a City University of New York. But, the university officially designates all but two toilets on the main campus as for men or for women. It is illegal to physically bar anyone from entering an NYC bathroom, based on their gender, but the QSU created plastic cards quoting these laws because members of another club did exactly that last year. Though Hunter keeps and enforces non-discrimination laws for cis-gendered students, transgendered students are ignored.
Hunter allows us to use the “men” and “women” bathrooms—at least, the one by the QSU—but is slow to remove hate speech and continues to put up signs gendering its bathrooms. It does not violate non-discrimination laws, but it does little to promote them, either.
Any students who want to help, drop by the QSU room (Thomas Hunter, third floor, in an alcove at the north end of the hall) to sign the petition.