Graphic by Paheli (She/Her)
To get access to the all-gender bathroom in on-campus housing with communal bathrooms (residence halls with classic or deluxe room types), a resident must contact their RA for a link to a request form. After filling out the request, the resident must then wait one to three business days for an email from the Residential Life (ResLife) Assistant Director that confirms that a key for the all-gender bathroom is ready for pick up. Finally, the resident must go to the front desk and pick up the key card.
Sometimes an RA might not follow up for two weeks, as was the case with a friend. The same friend had their initial application rejected for an unknown reason. They waited another two weeks after directly emailing the ResLife Assistant Director to finally receive their key card.
If the resident loses the key card, they must go to the front desk to ask for a replacement. Sometimes, the front desk workers don’t know the procedure for obtaining a replacement all-gender bathroom card, so the resident ends up just having to get lucky.
Nowhere is this process outlined for residents that might need it.
In May 2019, UCLA passed Policy 890, requiring gender-inclusive facilities (i.e. bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers) in buildings where there are already existing gender-specific facilities in accordance with University of California Guidelines for Providing Gender Inclusive Facilities. The extent to which this has been implemented more broadly can be found on UCLA Health’s map of all-gender restrooms. As it was last updated in 2019, the map doesn’t reflect the most updated locations of publicly accessible all-gender restrooms. To my knowledge, there is at least an additional all-gender restroom next to The Drey between the Olympic and Centennial residence halls that isn’t reflected on the map.
When I saw the all-gender bathroom across from my dorm, I felt seen. Housing intentionally placed the only room on the floor with nonbinary students closest to the all-gender bathroom (“bathroom” as opposed to restroom since it has a shower). But when I tried to open the bathroom with my Bruincard, it didn’t work. Naturally, it worked on the gendered bathroom.
One of my roommates and I went down to the front desk to ask for access, and that’s when we were told to contact our RAs. Even when we contacted our RAs, there was confusion about how to access the request form. One of our RAs told us to go directly to the ResLife office until our other RA sent us the form link.
Besides our lack of knowledge as to how to get access to the all-gender bathroom in the first place — even though Housing did acknowledge us by placing us in front of it — the people who should’ve known how to get us access simply did not. When my roommate and I went to the front desk after receiving our emails confirming that our key cards were ready, there was — like in the case of our RAs — initial confusion from the people working at the front desk. And once again, if you lose your key card to the all-gender bathroom, you have to get lucky as to whether or not the people working at the front desk know how to replace it.
Beyond the difficulty and inequity in accessing the all-gender bathroom, the UC guidelines for gender-inclusive facilities seem to only extend to publicly accessible restrooms. The guidelines explicitly state that they cover “each UC facility and restroom, except for facilities located within private residences or apartments, and within dormitory suites.” As a result, not all floors of a given residence hall with gendered communal bathrooms are guaranteed to have an all-gender bathroom.
It’s true, though, that while the lack of an all-gender bathroom on each floor with gendered communal bathrooms represents inequity in access, it could be argued that it isn’t an issue when considering that UCLA’s population of nonbinary undergraduate students is 1% according to UCLA’s Facts and Figures; this “1%” is mysteriously unlabeled and instead comes from the difference of the sum of the proportion of undergraduate students that identified as male and female. Considering the small population, there likely aren’t enough nonbinary students living on the Hill that would cause a shortage of all-gender bathrooms.
Even still, the inaccessibility of the all-gender bathroom itself undermines UCLA’s efforts toward inclusion, equity, and accessibility. This serves as a point of disconnect between the desire for a diverse student body and meaningful inclusion, even while UCLA acknowledges, “One aspect of creating an inclusive environment is the availability of safe, accessible, and convenient facilities for all individuals,” in Policy 890.
I imagine that limitations in UCLA’s key card technology are what prevent nonbinary students from being given access to the all-gender restroom since UCLA acknowledges similar limitations in their housing portal system: “Because our housing portal system operates on a binary, in order to allow nonbinary students who have not selected gender inclusive [sic] housing the widest variety of options, students will need to work with a Housing Services representative to select their room during RSU.” As I look toward living on the Hill again next year, I — yet again — run into another example of inequitable access. My roommate group and I — all nonbinary students — will have to work directly with Housing to ensure we have the same opportunity as our cisgender peers to select a room for next year.
Even while it might be technology — still with roots in systematized cisnormativity — that results in inequitable access to bathrooms and housing, this doesn’t mean that UCLA cannot do better. Especially in the case of the all-gender bathroom, it is a bare minimum to inform students how to obtain access. It is also a bare minimum to enforce that the people who are supposed to know how to give us access actually know how to. Otherwise, cisnormativity’s inherent inequity and inaccessibility are reinforced.
Meaningful inclusion means intentionally bridging inequities in access to facilities, resources, programs, curriculum, etc. in order to promote feelings of safety and belonging. I should be able to exist in spaces in the same way that my cis peers are without having to compromise. Even while UCLA has taken strides to better include its queer students, there is still work to be done.
How to get access to the all-gender bathroom in UCLA dorm housing:
- Contact RAs for the link to the “All Gender Bathroom Access Request”
- Fill out the request form
- Wait 1-3 business days for a confirmation email from Residential Life (ResLife) Assistant Director
- After receiving the confirmation email from the ResLife Assistant Director, go to the front desk of your building and ask for your all-gender bathroom key
How to gain access to the all-gender bathroom in UCLA dorm housing (REVISED):
- Exist (as a nonbinary or genderqueer person)
Author: Jericho Tran-Faypon (They/Them)
Artist: Paheli (She/Her)
Copy Editors: Charis (She/Her), Bella (She/They)