By Evan Peng
Stanford Recreation & Wellness hosted an open house at the new all-gender locker room located in the Arrillaga Outdoor Education and Recreation Center (AOERC) on Friday.
The all-gender locker room, situated on the lower level of the AOERC, was converted from men’s and women’s restrooms. It includes three private showers with changing rooms, one dry changing room, five private bathroom stalls and day-use lockers. Anyone is free to use the locker room, regardless of gender identity.
The new locker room, according to Stanford News, is “meant to provide a more inclusive environment for those who use the [AOERC].” According to Assistant Athletic Director for Facilities and Operations Rebecca Carpenter, the Stanford community has been “more vocal about all-gender spaces” in recent years.
“We’ve had a handful of faculty, staff and students meet with us about inclusive opportunities within recreation facilities,” Carpenter told Stanford News.
The new locker room also aids the University’s effort to have gender-inclusive single-occupancy restrooms in all buildings by 2020.
At the open house were several partner groups, including the Weiland Health Initiative, whose Gender Inclusive Stanford initiative aims to improve campus life for transgender and gender non-conforming members of the Stanford community.
“One of the projects that has been going on for a while is increasing the number of gender-inclusive bathrooms or changing facilities at gyms that are available on campus,” Weiland Health Associate Caroline Zha ’20 said. “There aren’t a lot of spaces for students who feel uncomfortable going into either a male or a female bathroom to carry out basic bodily functions.”
Bobby Radecki ’20, another Weiland Health Associate, said that spaces like the gym and the pool, where students might be wearing revealing athletic clothing, “can be especially distressing to folks who are trans and gender non-conforming who might not be totally comfortable with their bodies.”
“Athletic facilities can really be a place of high stress, and so having the gender-neutral locker room is definitely a positive step in helping to alleviate that,” Radecki added.
However, Brandon Alvarez ’19, a resident of the unofficially LGBTQ+ -themed campus co-op Terra, told The Daily that although they is “ecstatic” that the University is creating and promoting spaces for the trans and gender non-conforming communities, “much work still needs to be done if the community is going to feel welcome in said (and similar) spaces.”
“As of currently, many of us in the queer community often feel reluctant to engage in spaces like the AOERC because we feel out of place, stared at, or just generally alienated by the space itself,” Alvarez wrote. “I’m excited for the changes that [all-gender locker room] may bring, and hope that the university works to consult with the community as to how it can make historically unwelcoming places such as these more amicable and open to the community at large.”