Cutting the ribbon in front of the new gender-neutral bathroom
For some members of the LGBTQ+ community — trans, gender non-conforming, genderqueer, and nonbinary individuals — going to the bathroom is a daily activity fraught with second-guessing, emotion, and anxiety. Every time that they must decide between choosing one of two doors, they often also must choose to hide their trans identity and try to “pass” or whether they should put themselves in a position that will be either highly uncomfortable or even dangerous.
OUTLaw, along with allies at Miami Law including third-year law student Andrea Ezell, has been advocating for more gender-neutral bathrooms at the law school campus for the last three years.
Last week, OUTLaw hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony, attended by faculty, staff, and students, to open a new gender-neutral bathroom on the second floor of the law school’s A-building just in time for finals. The event was also part of OUTLaw’s Pride celebrations.
Dean Patricia D. White thanked the current OUTLaw executive board, including President Candelario Saldana, Vice President Ariana Abulafia, and alumna Christina Robinson, for their leadership on the issue. She also acknowledged Associate Dean Raquel Matas’s leadership and time commitment to making the change a reality.
Following White’s remarks, Saldana thanked her “for challenging us to continue working to change the barriers in place that prevent us from getting change done,” referencing OUTLaw’s next mission to challenge the laws in place that prevent the law school and other institutions from changing more bathrooms to gender neutral.
The OUTLaw president also reminded those in attendance of why there is a need for more gender-neutral bathrooms. Quoting the writer Danielle Corcione, he said “removing gender markers even from one single-user stall helps remove the gender binary from daily life. It builds a culture where genderqueer, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming people don’t have to pick a side — male or female — when using the restroom.”
Having even one more gender-neutral bathroom “normalizes the idea that using the bathroom shouldn’t be about gender and that people aren’t forced into socially-constructed boxes based on their genitals,” he said.
Changing the one bathroom reinforced the message that Miami Law’s culture is one of acceptance and one where everyone can feel safe to be themselves. Now trans students and gender non-conforming students have a bathroom that is closer to the rooms used for final exams; they won’t have to waste valuable time going to the law library to use a gender-neutral bathroom.
The change is also in time for admitted students making important decisions of where to go to law school to take into consideration the leadership that Miami Law displays in creating spaces where everyone can feel safe no matter their race, sexual orientation, religion, gender, or any other identity that makes them who they are.