Since the end of 2016, we’ve brought together student representatives from the Women and Trans Center at the University of Toronto Scarborough to talk safe spaces and gender identity in bathrooms.
Because bathrooms can be contentious places,
we wanted to find creative and friendly ways to spark conversations about safe spaces and what young people experience in bathrooms. So we organized a body cut out intervention.
We partnered with student groups on campus so that they could drive the direction of the project. Over a period of 5 months, the leaders of the student groups met to begin planning. They even set up a tumblr page to capture some of what was emerging!
We walked with them in every step of the process. This also meant running a creative writing exercises with the student group leaders to help generate the research questions of the project. A process they would repeat in their own groups in order to generate further research questions. Questions that would then be selected for each body cut out.
In February, the students groups installed the body cut outs in bathrooms across campus.
One by one, people came and left their messages, poetry, words of wisdom and humour on the cut outs.
At the close of the week, the body cut outs were brought back together and documented. The student leaders are now in the process of making sense of the data. This also means inviting more young people to interact with the data and collectively process it. They had a first round of this when they presented it a conference this March.
Going forward they hope to bring more students on campus to magnify the conversation and create more inclusive policy in public spaces, starting with gender neutral bathrooms. As we continue to learn from this experience we are excited about the possibilities of bringing bathroom research to more public spaces!