There has been little progress made in the plan to establish gender-neutral bathrooms in UCD. Last February, UCD announced plans to re-designate 170 toilets as gender-neutral bathrooms. In the seven months since then, only one toilet has been re-designated. This single stall bathroom is located in the Newman building in the same area as the female toilets beside An Cuas. Its sign features both a male and female figure, but many students are unaware of the bathroom’s existence.
The Tribune spoke to UCD LGBTQ+ society who expressed their happiness at the establishment of this one stall, as it is a hugely important move in the support of UCD’s transgender students, but obviously, they hope that the rollout of the signage for the remaining 169 toilets UCD promised can increase now that the summer has ended.
The Tribune also contacted UCD’s Vice-President for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Professor Colin Scott, who said that more progress will be made in the coming weeks, ‘We were working to have the new signage in place for the start of the new academic year. It is an important matter. We have not quite managed that, but I understand that new signs will be going up over the next few weeks.’
These plans were announced as part of UCD’s Gender, Identity and Expression policy that was launched by Minister for Children Katherine Zappone last February. One part of the policy that was implemented quickly was allowing students to change the name of their university documents, without their name being changed legally. UCD’s Gender, Identity and Expression Guidelines say that on ‘SISweb, Blackboard, e-mail addresses, class lists, and student cards can be changed without official proof of a name change.’ In order to change your name on your final award documents, students are requiring to sign a form consenting to the official change of name. UCD LGBTQ+ society was particularly happy with how easy it is to do so, especially because the process of changing one’s name legally can often cost more money than students can spare.
This Gender, Identity and Expression Policy that is now in place was originally drafted by a UMT Working Group. The group was chaired by the Director of Culture and Engagement at UCD HR, Rory Carey. The group also included Professor Colin Scott and Associate Professor Barbara Dooley, Dean of Graduate Studies & Deputy Registrar, among other staff and student representatives.
UCD also announced plans to introduce changing facilities specifically for transgender and gender-fluid students and staff in the sports centre, but it is unclear as to whether any progress has been made on this matter.
The Tribune also contacted the UCD SU Press Office and UCD SU Welfare Officer Melissa Plunkett but received no reply.
By Muireann O’Shea – CoEditor