Skip to main content
xYOU DESERVE INDEPENDENT, CRITICAL MEDIA. We want readers like you. Support independent critical media.

"No More Holding My Pee": Assam Queer Community Calls for Gender-Neutral Toilets

The community is demanding gender-neutral toilets in public and educational spaces to create safe spaces for non-binary and gender non-conforming individuals.

Delhi: Assam's LGBTQIA+ community has launched a campaign, "No More Holding My Pee," calling for gender-neutral toilets in public spaces and educational institutions. The campaign was launched on June 5, 2022, at the Dibrugarh Pride Walk, the EastMojo reported.

Founder-director of Akam Foundation and a member of the queer collective Drishti, Rituparna, is leading the advocacy initiative. Speaking to EastMojo, she argues that the current gender binary approach to public toilets is unfair to non-binary or gender non-conformist individuals.

The group has cited several cases where queer people were denied access to public toilets or harassed for using gendered restrooms. The campaign has already garnered thousands of signatures in support of the cause. Beyond creating safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ individuals to pee, the campaign aims to penetrate the education space and influence policymakers.

The group's demands include creating gender-neutral washrooms and allowing queer students to choose the kind of uniforms they want to wear. The activists believe these actions are some ways to address systemic discrimination against the community.

Currently, public toilets are designated for males or females, leaving out non-binary or non-gender conformist individuals. The campaign, titled #NoMoreHoldingMyPee, aims to address this issue.

Pixie, a student of K.C. Das Commerce College, Guwahati, argues that many trans and gender non-conforming people have limited access to bathrooms due to the harassment, violence, and threat of arrest they experience in both women’s and men’s bathrooms. Being a non-binary person, Pixie believes that gender-neutral toilets help build a culture where genderqueer, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming people do not have to pick a side when using the restroom.

The group is pushing for collaboration with the Government of Assam and schools in the region to construct or designate gender-neutral toilets, as well as sensitizing students and staff on the need to ensure the queer community feels safe. Many colleges, including Kanoi Commerce College, Dibrugarh, Jorhat College, Jorhat, and Marigaon College, Marigaon, have indicated their intentions to take necessary steps to make it possible.

Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Economics and International Business at DHSK Commerce College, Dibrugarh, Dr Anita Baruwa stresses the importance of providing students with the time and space to express themselves and their gender identities. Speaking to EastMojo, she shared an example of a student who opened up during the inauguration of their Gender Champions Club, which was a powerful moment for both the student and the college community. She is optimistic that more students will feel comfortable opening up as the college continues to foster an open and accepting environment.

As Srija Devthakur, a member of the Gender Champions Club at DHSK Commerce College, Dibrugarh, explains, “The washroom is where people feel the most vulnerable, which is why access is important.” Devthakur said transgender or gender nonconforming students are harassed or even physically assaulted when attempting to use the washroom that aligns with their gender identity. This lack of security often forces them to leave campus to find a safe washroom or hold their bladder. 

The situation is pretty clear for these disruptors; being able to use bathrooms without the threat of violence or harassment is a human right, not a privilege, they asserted. "Nowadays, more and more young people are defying gender norms, so there is a need for gender sensitization programmes in schools, colleges, and other institutions, and workspaces," Pixie said to the EastMojo.

Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.

Subscribe Newsclick On Telegram