This is a prime example of how far we have to go.
Yes, UMN earns much of praise, as well as the other three Minnesota schools that make the list. Their presence is only natural given the state's record on Queer issues. After all, Minneapolis was the first city to protect on the basis of gender identity. UMN is clearly able to check the vast majority of the boxes, with UMN's report card only giving it a no on, "Accessible, simple process for students to change their name and gender identity on university records and documents." This is definitely an issue (for more than just Trans people), though not my topic for this post.
|The "Wabasha Freedom to Marriage Bridge" as it was declared by St Paul Mayor Coleman for the passage of marriage equality in Minnesota. My photo.|
Does your campus provide gender-neutral/single occupancy restroom facilities in administrative and academic buildings?
This leaves a lot to be desired. Yes, UMN has gender-neutral restrooms. There is one on the same floor as my office. Yet there is a lot more at issue than just having gender neutral bathrooms. What percentage of the buildings have gender neutral bathrooms? On all of Saint Paul campus, there are only 8 buildings listed with gender neutral restrooms. That is less than half. The next closest gender neutral bathroom to the one near my office is, according to Google Maps, a 0.3 mile walk. Are there single use bathrooms that could be gender neutral but are not? Yet again UMN miserably fails. My building has two single use restrooms on every floor except the first one, and yet there is only one gender neutral restroom in the entire building.
|Image from UW - River Falls|
|The building that I am discussing, photos from the UMN's Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior department.|
The lack of widespread gender neutral restrooms also creates a prime zone for anti-Trans bias. Cis-privilege quite likely gives a person like myself the benefit of the doubt when using a single use restroom that somebody perceives is "incorrect." It is likely written off as the other restroom being occupied. Does a person who appears Trans or gender nonconforming get that same benefit of the doubt? Why even create the possibility of these scenarios existing. To be honest, it is sad that even in the cities that first protected gender identity people are still made to feel ashamed and unsafe simply by their choice of restroom. It is even more shameful that the university can't at least make sure all single use restrooms are places that anybody can feel comfortable using (it should be noted here that the American's with Disabilities Act 2010 standards essentially require all new and renovated single sue restrooms to be handicap accessible).
UMN has earned high marks, yet let's not rest on our laurels. There are certainly improvements needed.