Cornell University announced a clear policy this spring allowing “students, staff, faculty, and visitors to use the restroom or facility that corresponds to their gender identity.” They join Ithaca College in this key area of support for transgender people.
Cornell says its policy is “in keeping with the University’s policy of nondiscrimination and the commitment to inclusion,” and is stated on the university’s Diversity & Inclusion web site.
In addition to the policy allowing campus community members and visitors to choose which restroom to use, Cornell says it “maintains a number of universal restrooms across campus.” That helps parents with small kids and other caregivers who need to assist anyone using the restroom, as well. “These facilities are all-gender, accessible spaces, which may include amenities for families such as baby changing stations,” says Cornell. The universal restrooms are displayed as an overlay on a campus map.
At Ithaca College, Luca Maurer, director of the Center for LGBT Education, Outreach & Services, says “we have gender friendly restrooms on campus in academic and administrative buildings as well as residence halls.” IC maintains a list and map of these restrooms.
“Our college nondiscrimination policy is the policy that governs this and all aspects of the college,” says Maurer. “As such, transgender people are — and have always been — welcome to use the restrooms that correspond to their gender identity.” Maurer adds that “Ithaca College has been ranked one of the top 10 transgender-friendly colleges and universities in the nation, and as one of the 25 best campuses in the nation for LGBT students.”
“We also instituted a process this year for students to be able to personally visit residence halls to view the exact configuration of rooms and restrooms in buildings they may be considering living in, in advance of our housing selection process for the new semester/year,” Maurer says.
Around town, Planned Parenthood of the Southern Finger Lakes created a Pee in Peace app for iPhone “designed to help transgender and gender non-conforming people easily locate single-stall or gender-neutral bathrooms in Ithaca.” The app was released in early 2012, and does have some information that hasn’t changed, but a Planned Parenthood representative was “not sure what kind of updates have been made.”
While the Pee in Peace app does have some outdated information (it still lists Felicia’s Atomic Lounge, for example), many of the locations shown are still current. The app includes business hours where available, whether the restrooms are gender-specific or unisex, whether they have individual doors, how clean they are, and wheelchair accessibility.
Yes, Target at the Shops at Ithaca Mall is listed in the app, even though as of the app’s release four and a half years ago, the big-box retailer hadn’t yet courted controversy by announcing a policy that welcomed transgender customers to use the restrooms of their choice.
According to Planned Parenthood, “A survey conducted by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission found that nearly 50% of respondents reported having been harassed or assaulted in a public bathroom. Because of this, many transgender people avoid public bathrooms altogether and can develop health problems as a result. We are committed to working toward removing the barriers to accessing safe bathrooms.”