Algonquin Times writer Justin Hancock-LeFebour Photo credit: Annika Schlarb

You’d think there would be more of a push to ensure transgender people can thrive safely in space. Well, for those who identify as transgender, discriminatory laws are being pushed at higher rates only to aggravate these negative experiences.

Kentucky and Florida introduced bans on transgender-affirming treatments for transgender minors. We are lucky to have tens of thousands of Canadian activists pushing to give access to international transgender people to seek refuge amidst these discriminatory laws.

Luckily for Algonquin College transgender students who attend the campus in Ottawa, they’ll be pleased to hear that nine buildings have at least one gender-neutral bathroom in the facility, and for those attending the Perth or Pembroke campus, they’ll be pleased to hear at least five rooms have gender-neutral bathrooms.

Those who probably won’t use these gender-neutral bathrooms are probably thinking, “Why is my tuition money going into these new stalls?” But if you think about it, that money is saving lives.

These bathrooms will create a safer use of public bathrooms for all genders. Being able to safely use the bathroom of your choice should be a right, not a privilege. We are failing transgender individuals by not educating the general public as to what being trans is like and how these gender-neutral bathrooms are useful.

I don’t remember ever learning anything about transgender individuals or genders because we never were taught i for some reason. I knew what being transgender was, but I never learned the full extent of all these different genders and why anyone would transition in the first place. Studies have shown it’s healthier for those who suffer from gender dysphoria to transition.

Those with gender dysphoria are prone to having low self-esteem, becoming withdrawn or socially isolated, and having depression or anxiety.

I graduated high school two years ago and only started to read up on it due to the rise of hate crimes against transgender people.

The National Centre for Trans Equality (NCTE) reported that a quarter of transgender people faced bias-driven assaults, with rates being higher for transgender women and transgender people of colour. Reports from UCLA said trans individuals were four-times more likely to face violence than any other demographic.

Up to 70 per cent of transgender people have experienced a negative reaction when using public bathrooms. Fifty-seven per cent of transgender Ontarians have avoided using public washrooms when they have needed to go due to fear of harassment. Avoiding bathroom use can result in a variety of health problems ranging from urinary tract infections to kidney problems.

By the looks of it, it seems we haven’t been trying hard enough to create safe environments for transgender individuals.

It’s why gender-neutral bathrooms are an important step toward creating more inclusive and welcoming spaces for people of all gender identities and expressions and reducing violence transgender people face.

Even if transgender people only count for less than one percent of the Canadian population, it’s still not a reason to think this is a small deal. People who use wheelchairs count for the same amount percent of the population, yet we still add accessibility buttons to as many doors on the college campus. At the end of the day, transgender individuals are still people, and respecting these decisions would be the bare minimum.

And look, even if you still don’t agree with the idea of gender-neutral bathrooms, these bathrooms are at your service as well. Remember, when the bathroom you’re assigned to has a long lineup, you won’t need to wait since there’s an extra bathroom.