A transgender experience

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Sports Column

Something that I think all students at Berkeley High School can agree on is the state the bathrooms are in. Whether or not you feel comfortable using the gendered bathrooms at this school, there are big issues. 

Some things students can work on fixing ourselves. Destroying things like locks to stall doors and soap dispensers just makes everything more difficult for everyone. We as a school community need to be more cognizant of each other. This is something that stretches further than just the bathrooms. Spirit week has changed its name because of the way we treat each other. Now bathroom rules are becoming more and more rigid, really just doing more harm than help. For nonbinary students and others who feel uncomfortable (or are unable entirely) using multistall restrooms, it may take longer than ten minutes to even get to a bathroom to use. There are a total of two gender neutral student bathrooms on campus, and one of them is usually locked. The Jacket has created a log to track the availability of them, which is a big help, but it doesn’t solve the problem of the scarcity of these bathrooms. I think the only real hope with this is creating gender neutral bathrooms in the A building when it opens. 

However, there are things that the administration has ignored. Locks are missing on stall doors, some sinks don’t work, and toilet paper is frequently out. These are all things that can’t just be automatically changed and I get that. The custodians are understaffed and overworked, making it hard to know what to prioritize but that doesn’t mean this situation can be pushed under the rug. Talking about bathroom issues is a little bit strange because, well, using the bathroom isn’t something people want to talk about in depth. This tiptoeing approach is definitely being taken advantage of. A Title IX officer was only hired to our school after students stood up and didn’t stop talking about an issue for months on end. This hasn’t happened with the bathroom issue, and so nothing has really changed. As students we are expected to stand up for what needs changing despite these things being basic and necessary.

High school bathrooms are never going to be perfect but they should at least be usable. Cracking down on kids loitering and vaping in bathrooms is only going to cause more problems than it solves. By shutting down or locking the two gender neutral bathrooms on campus, this school is making the nonbinary and trans population feel less than and, quite honestly, unsafe. That might be a little bit dramatic, but most trans people I know try to make it through the day without using the bathroom at all. This is, obviously, extremely unhealthy and worrying. If there was more care around the upkeep of bathrooms at our school this would be less of an issue. This isn’t just a bathroom issue, we as a community need to care more about each other. Friendly banter between classes is fine, but destroying bathrooms and making it so less people can use them for what they’re made for is not okay.