The University of California had already become the first university system in the US to add gender-neutral restrooms to its campuses back in 2014. But Berkeley being Berkeley, the school is moving the ball forward even more on its Recreational Sports Facility (RSF) fitness center. In plans just announced, UC Berkeley will be adding a gender-inclusive locker room to the RSF, at a cost of $2.7 million and a proposed opening date in the fall of 2018. According to the Chronicle, this will make UC Berkeley “the first college in California to build a large-scale gender-inclusive locker room inside its campus gym.”
“Not only will the locker room offer private changing rooms, showers, lockers and bathrooms stalls, it will also serve as a non-gendered access point to the Spieker Pool lap swim facility,” UC Berkeley said in a release.
This is not a demolition of the current locker room structure at the RSF. It’s just a refurbishing of the current locker room structure of the 100,000-square-foot facility that otherwise features an Olympic-sized pool, weight rooms, basketball courts, Stairmasters, and all manner of other workout gear and spaces. Sections of the men’s locker room and the women’s locker room will be torn out to create the new gender-neutral locker room in the middle.
“We know we have a lot of students on the spectrum of gender identity and gender expression,” senior AD of recreational sports Trineice Durst told the Chronicle. “We know from personal stories from students and research across the industry that single-gender restrooms are barriers to access for students.”
Indeed, the Chronicle interviewed transgender UC Berkeley students, who had previously been directed by staff to use stalls in the employee bathroom, which is kind of awful, and some bought private gym memberships just to avoid using their own university facilities.
"Safety is the biggest concern for me in gendered locker rooms — especially ones without private changing and showering facilities are extremely unsafe for people like me,” transgender graduate Lucas Waldron told the Chron. “You just never know if someone might cause a problem if they realize you’re trans.”
Predictably, right-wing media have their jockstraps in a bunch as they would with any story involving the words “transgender” and “Berkeley.” “UC Berkeley Spends $3 Million of Student Money on One Gender Inclusive Locker Room,” decries Heat Street. (Do you need to read it? Google it.) But their analysis misses the point that the $2.7 million comes out of a fund financed by a $54 fee that Berkeley students approved onto themselves in a June 2015 vote.
Related: Yelp Feature Will Tell Users If Businesses Have Gender-Neutral Bathrooms