Content warning: the following article discusses themes of suicide and contains triggering transphobic slurs and images of vandalism. The Peak has chosen not to publish photos of the transphobic vandalism.
By: Jess Dela Cruz, News Writer
Ongoing transphobic and homophobic vandalism in SFU’s washrooms has caused escalating concern for LGBTQ2+ community members and allies. This is an ongoing issue that was previously reported by The Peak.
In June of 2019, Out On Campus (OOC) launched the #WeJustNeedToPee poster campaign, reaffirming transgender students’ right to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender. Ashley Brooks, OOC’s coordinator, described it as “a positive campaign reminding our campus community to be respectful of trans students in these spaces and reassuring our trans community that they have a right to feel safe on their campus.”
However, as stated by to Brooks, OOC has been “Receiving reports of posters being torn down and defaced.” Brooks reports that “until recently, this vandalism had been relatively minor.” However, recent cases have been extreme and concerning to many in the campus’ community. According to Brooks, the vandalism on the posters consisted of things such as a swastika, the word ‘FAG,’ and changing of the #WeJustNeedToPee hashtag to #WeJustNeedToKYS — with KYS standing for ‘kill yourself.’
Other vandalism on the posters say, “a person [is] going to hell if they don’t repent.” One says, “#MakeStraightGreatAgain.” Others, “#UseTheHandicapBathroom” and “#CisgenderPride.”
Brooks has been working with the Human Rights Office, Campus Public Safety, the Student Conduct Office, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU), and the police to monitor the situation.
Additionally, Brooks states “Seeing a swastika is disturbing enough – especially since Canada recently added a neo-Nazi group to its list of terrorist organisations – but seeing it alongside an encouragement to suicide is mortifying since trans folks are already three times as likely as cis[gender] people to attempt suicide. This is truly a stain on our vibrant and diverse campus community and a stark reminder of the need for safer spaces for marginalised groups.”
There are only a limited number of washrooms at SFU that are gender-neutral, and thus reliably safe for transgender students to use. In most cases, these are the single-use accessible washrooms. OOC has published an online package called “Trans and Gender Diverse Guide to SFU.”
Brooks adds, “if you’re ever in a washroom wondering if somebody else belongs there in there, they likely know better than you do.”
If you have questions or need assistance, visit Out on Campus in the Rotunda or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For Health and Counselling Services, visit the clinic in the Maggie Benston Centre, Room 0101 or contact them at 778-782-5781. Students can also volunteer with OOC to help them replace defaced posters.