Published: 29th November 2019
In a historic move, Kolkata's Jadavpur University to set up gender-neutral toilets on campus
Students said that the demand for gender-neutral toilets has been long-pending and the recent decision has made all of them happy
Jadavpur University in Kolkata is considering a proposal by the students' union to set up gender-neutral toilets on the campus, varsity authorities and students said on Friday. The administration has received a proposal to set up two gender-neutral toilets in the campus that could be used by men, women and persons of the third gender and is considering to start its construction after the semester exams are over.
"The proposal is yet to be placed before the panel that looks after developmental works in the campus. We are considering setting up not only gender-neutral toilets but also differently-abled-friendly ones," a professor said. He added that the university has an inclusive culture and that should get reflected in its amenities.
"I am really glad that the hard work of the students that fought for this demand paid off. At the same time, I believe it's important to maintain the washrooms that we already have. Just building them won't work. Maintenance is an important part of the deal. With JU it's not the number of washrooms that matter but the quality which in most cases is quite disappointing. However, I am glad that JU is a pioneering institute where everyone's basic human rights are taken care of. This is a great move," Utsarjana Mutsuddi, a research assistant at the School of Women's Studies at JU told Edex.
A student of the English Department at the varsity said that the demand for gender-neutral toilets has been long-pending and has the support of all the students. Anuska Pal, who is pursuing English honours and is currently in her third year said that her department had put forward the same demand earlier in October this year. Now, that it has been accepted the students are content, she adds. "We have always compartmentalised washrooms into two categories — male and female. We are advancing and evolving as a society and a lot of people are not conforming to just these two genders. Some do not identify or align themselves with any of these two. So, I feel there needs to be a practical application in terms of providing them with a solution. Thus, gender-neutral washroom at an educational institution is definitely a step forward in the right direction," she tells us.
The students said that there are plans to construct cubicles in the already existing male washrooms and urinals in the existing female ones for now. "There is definitely a shortcoming in the current plans as some female students are not comfortable with urinals inside their washrooms, and the same thing becomes problematic for some male students too. However, there will be separate washrooms, completely gender-neutral ones in the future. It's like what we have in our own houses — there's no demarcation for a male/female washroom at our homes," explains Anuska.
School teacher Suchitra Dey, who was Hiranmay Dey before undergoing sex reassignment surgery in 2017, said gender-neutral toilets would be very helpful. Suchitra said she faced predicament while using toilets at JU when she was a post-graduation student in English there before undergoing surgery, but got a lot of support from the faculty. "I could not go to men's washroom as I was a woman deep inside even before surgery. Going to women's washroom was also equally difficult. I hope no one has to go through such experiences now," said Suchitra, who is also an LGBT activist.