The Assam Kaziranga University

In a first-of-its-kind move, the Department of Social Work at Tezpur University in Assam took the initiative to build a gender-neutral toilet.

The move is timed to coincide with Pride Month and aims to raise awareness about the importance of a gender-neutral environment.

The Department of Social Work now has three gender-neutral toilets at the Humanities and Social Sciences buildings on the first floor of Tezpur University, one is for faculty and the other two are for students.

The proposal began as a discussion among faculty members, but after everyone, including the Vice-Chancellor, agreed that it was a good idea, it was implemented.

Assistant Professor Namami Sharma of the Department of Social Work while speaking to the media, said, “So what exactly happened was, we had a guest over for a workshop at our department. And our guest was looking for a place to change clothes. But he wasn’t comfortable going into the men’s washroom. That’s when the discussion got triggered about the need for a space where people who do not identify with the binary will feel comfortable.”

“And eventually, we came across several cases where there are boys in the boys’ hostel who felt a certain level of discomfort in using the men’s washroom. Having a gender-neutral residential space is far-fetched at this point but to begin with, we can of course have a toilet. We flagged the issue of the requirement of a gender-neutral toilet to our vice-chancellor who was very supportive of it,” explained Sharma.

“We looked for several spaces in the University for the same and eventually decided to turn our staff toilet into a gender-neutral toilet. But we also needed a space for the students too hence, we turned the first floor of the HSS building of the University,” she added.

She also stated that the topic was discussed with the University’s student council, which was in favour of the decision.

The Assam Kaziranga University