Yale University announced at its 315th commencement ceremony that it will now offer gender-neutral bathrooms in 23 of its buildings as it aims to facilitate a more inclusive atmosphere for all of its students.
“Yale aims to be a leader on this front,” said Tamar Gendler, dean of Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “Part of what is important about the all-gender bathroom project and about putting it at the top of our commencement site, is this is about public signaling.”
Additionally, Yale professors have been ordered to call students by their preferred gender pronouns, and transgender students will be allowed to change their names on their school identification cards and the web portal at no extra cost. Moreover, gender reassignment surgery, hormone suppression therapy, and medical procedures will be covered under the student health plan.
According to USA Today, Yale follows other schools’ footsteps in moving away from traditional understandings of gender. Last September, Harvard announced that it will allow students to identify with nontraditional gender pronouns like “hir” and “ze.” Harvard also allows students to occupy housing based on their gender identity.
An all-female school in Massachusetts, Smith College, began admitting students who were born male but identify as female, and the University of Vermont also has been addressing transgender students with their preferred pronouns.
Yale’s Equal Opportunity Statement, which covers all students and employees, prohibits discrimination based upon gender identity or expression in education, admission, and employment. Some transgender students, however, believe that the campus can do more to accommodate all kinds of gender diversity. “I’m pretty sure that if you take any year in Yale history and measure the amount of change that happened with regards to trans rights, this has been the most monumental year, by a lot,” Isaac Amend, a student transitioning to male.
As reported by Fox News, Yale’s all-gender bathrooms are the product of the work of Yale’s Office of LGBTQ Resources, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Bathrooms on campus will now include signs that say “All Gender Restroom.”
According to Stoyan Zaimov of the website CP U.S., conservative groups and religious leaders in America have been vocal in speaking out against such changes. The Rev. Franklin Graham, who heads Samaritans’ Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association said, “God created male and female – you don’t have to have a college degree to understand.”
Similar remarks have been made about the controversy in North Carolina, where the state legislature passed a law that prohibits transgender individuals from using a public facility that does not correspond with their gender at birth. The Obama administration received criticism after it sent a letter to all public schools in the United States urging administrators to respect the rights of transgender students.
To those who may be jarred by gender fluidity, Anman struck an indifferent tone. “That’s music to my ears,” Amman said. “And what’s the greatest harm that can be done? An old white guy makes a snide remark? Who cares?”