On February 3rd, 2019 Pitzer College’s Student Senate overwhelmingly voted in support of desegregating the campus’ restroom facilities which were previously segregated based upon sex. This legislation follows a survey of the campus which showed support amongst the general student body. Further, this is the first bill to follow the Fall Semester’s Senate Resolution which pledged for more support and recruitment for trans students. Senate Bill 55-R-06 will impact 54 facilities across campus which were previously segregated based on sex characteristics. Pitzer follows Cooper Union College’s student body who removed gendered bathrooms from campus in 2016.
In the midst of the 45th President of the United States assault on trans people, Pitzer College has sent a strong message by doubling down on their support for trans, intersex, non-binary, and gender non-conforming community members. HB2, the trans memo, and the trans military ban have brought trans people and bathrooms into mainstream politics as fodder for conservative vitriol. However, gender segregation began fairly recently as a byproduct of the Victorian era’s rigid ideas of purity which reinforced patriarchal gender roles. While early feminists in Massachusetts fought for gender segregation to increase women’s access to the public life, by implementing ‘women’s ‘restrooms alongside ‘men’s’ rooms, segregated bathrooms remain a relic to a period of extreme sex segregation. Just as society has transcended ‘women’s’ reading rooms and ‘women’s’ lobbies, it ought to stop policing people who are simply attempting to perform a bodily function.
Further, segregation always take place within racial politics. Bathrooms were once separated by ‘colored’, ‘woman’, and ‘man.’ Just as Hortense Spillers theorized, Black people do not have symbolic integrity in accessing western gender categories. By doing away with de facto segregation but keeping sex segregated spaces within our society, we still continue to perpetuate segregation. The (ill)logics of Brown v. Board of Education persist in a “separate but equal” neoliberal approach to create a few “all gender” or “gender neutral” bathrooms. We must reject colonial ideas of gender, and move beyond binary categories of man or woman. We are not asking for special rights, but are calling into question the systems of domination which first marginalized trans, gender nonconforming, intersex, and non-binary people in the first place.
Despite the onslaught of vitriol, roll back of rights, and genocide against Black trans people— Pitzer College is investing in a future where Black trans lives can, do, and will matter. Pitzer College also has a New Resources Program for older, non-traditional , or part time adult students.
If you are interested in learning more about applying to Pitzer College and are intersex, trans, or gender nonconforming please email me at the firstname.lastname@example.org!