Students need gender-neutral bathrooms

Charlie Reeves, Spread Editor

Currently, there is not a single restroom at Jackson-Reed open to gender non-conforming students. Gender neutral staff restrooms exist, but students are not allowed to use them. Jackson-Reed High School is generally a tolerant community, but the restrooms provided in our school building do not reflect the diversity of those around us.

There is a dire need for transgender and nonbinary students to be able to comfortably use the bathroom. The large presence of LGBTQ+ students at our school, many of them nonbinary, makes this all the more necessary.

I am a transgender student at Jackson-Reed. My pronouns are they/them, I am neither a boy nor a girl: I am nonbinary. The binary bathrooms available for students simply do not serve me and others like me.

“I just don’t go to the bathroom during school. It causes too much anxiety,” sophomore Roux Ban-Goodrich, who identifies as a transgender man, explained, citing fears about not fitting in with cisgender men. Ban-Goodrich often dresses androgynously, and that adds to his hesitancy to go into the men’s bathroom.

“The idea of being in a bathroom with guys is terrifying. I feel like it’s uncomfortable, I don’t want anyone’s space to feel intruded upon. It’s more acceptable for me to go into the women’s bathroom pretty much everywhere,” Ban-Goodrich said. “But a gender neutral bathroom would be a safer space.”

Everyone, especially students in a school that claims to honor their identities as young individuals, should able to go to the bathroom without judgment.

Many transgender students at Jackson-Reed have felt that neither bathroom feels quite right. For me, needing to use the bathroom at all is followed by an onslaught of worries. Which one? Am I dressed too masculine for the girls’ room, are my features too feminine for the boys’?

For trans men and women, the concept of passing, or being perceived by others as the gender you identify with, creates a dilemma in public restrooms. Many teenagers in the process of transitioning fear that their preferred bathroom is not safe or welcoming to them if they do not pass.

“Unfortunately areas that have been cis-dominated, like men’s and women’s restrooms, are often uncomfortable and anxiety-provoking for trans and gender non conforming people,” said junior Karam Weigert, who is nonbinary.

The solution to this is more than the plaques outside the girl’s and boy’s bathrooms stating that students should choose the bathroom that aligns with their identity. Whether it is in our school’s future to unlock the gender neutral restrooms meant for teachers or to create or convert a space to be a new one, a change in the status quo is deeply important.

Jackson-Reed needs a safe space where the student body can go to the bathroom, separate from the conventional and harmful social rules surrounding sex and gender identity. •