April Fools: Transgender bathroom policy works

Tracey Hickey | April 1, 2012    

Three weeks after declaring that all students must use the bathrooms appropriate to the sex… Three weeks after declaring that all students must use the bathrooms appropriate to the sex listed on their birth certificates, the University is proud to report that the policy shift has benefited nearly everyone.

For one thing, the need to enforce the new rule has led to a huge boom in job creation for the University. By hiring local bouncers to stand outside each men’s and women’s bathroom at all hours of the day demanding that students hoping to relieve their bladders produce some form of identification, Pitt has pumped thousands of dollars into the local economy.

Granted, this system of enforcement isn’t perfect. Some critics are complaining about the long lines outside most school bathrooms. Others worry about consistency, as rumor has it that some bouncers accept the “left my wallet at home” excuse for a lack of identification as long as a student “looks like a man [or woman].”

Perhaps most troubling, several bouncers say they’ve experienced what is being called “urintimidation” — that is, incidents of aggravated students threatening to empty their frustrated bladders on the person denying them access to the toilet.

However, the new rules have been great news for the many purveyors of fake IDs on campus, who have experienced a huge increase in business. Since Pitt requires that students use the facilities appropriate to the sex on their birth certificates — after all, in Pennsylvania, changing the sex on your driver’s license requires only a doctor’s note and a few hundreds of dollars in fees — these entrepreneurs, who previously only traded in fake 21+ driver’s licenses, have expanded their operations to meet the demand for forged birth certificates.

One seller, who wished to remain anonymous, says that he has “made bank” since the policy change — and it’s not just trans students who are buying.

“I mean, does anybody carry their birth certificate around?” he asked. “Mine’s at home with my parents or in some drawer somewhere. Even President Obama doesn’t have his on him all the time!”

University officials admit that the new enforcement strategy might still have some kinks that could use ironing out. A junior named Mary Shye told The Pitt News that one such kink is that the policy has effectively barred her — a transgender woman from Ohio — from using any bathroom except for the one in her apartment.

Unlike Pennsylvania, where changing the sex on your birth certificate is as easy as undergoing 12 months of hormone therapy, spending three days in the hospital and shelling out up to $40,000 in surgery fees, Ohio doesn’t allow you to change the sex on your birth certificate for any reason.

“I’m post-op,” Shye confided. “I have a vagina. But they still want me to use the men’s bathroom, because it says M on my birth certificate.”

Despite her reluctance, Shye tried to use the men’s bathroom on the third floor of the Cathedral last Wednesday. “I wouldn’t usually,” she admitted, “but I really had to go.” But the bouncer said her birth certificate “looked fake” and turned her away.

When contacted, a spokesperson for the University said that Shye could have availed herself of one of the gender-neutral bathrooms on campus., an online resource that lists the locations of gender-neutral bathrooms across the country, lists five such bathrooms on Pitt’s campus, which surely ought to be enough for 26,000 students.

Unfortunately, given the difficulty of accessing any gendered bathroom without proper documentation, these restrooms have become all too popular for transgender and cisgender students alike. Passing by the gender-neutral bathroom on the 34th floor of the Cathedral of Learning, one is likely to notice a line snaking all the way down the stairs. Shye says that on the day she attempted to use the men’s bathroom, the line went down to the 27th floor.

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