ETH stops expansion and renovation

ETH stops expansion and renovation
31 January 2021 Kim (they/them)

Hope for gender-neutral locker rooms at sports facilities postponed until 2035

ETH had planned a comprehensive extension and renovation of the refectory and multi-purpose building, including the polyterrace. 1 This includes the sports facility Polyterasse of the ASVZ. What queer*z had heard and supported: that gender-neutral changing rooms would be built. This would have taken ETH a step further towards the inclusion of trans and non-binary people and would have set a sign against structural discrimination against them. According to ETH news, the construction project has now been postponed until 2028 due to Corona-related cost-cutting measures. 2 3

According to ETH, the entire renovation will take seven years, which means that gender-neutral changing rooms will not be available at ETH until 2035 at the earliest. Therefore, the queer*z association is very disappointed and would like to sit down at a table with ETH to examine possibilities for the introduction of gender-neutral locker rooms as part of the renovations. *

Why are gender-neutral locker rooms important anyway?

Men and boys go to the men's locker room, women and girls to the women's locker room. And coaches go to the coaches' locker room. Those who are neither have to choose anyway and thus define their gender accordingly. A survey by Transgender Network Switzerland (TGNS) in June 2020 4
showed that 25% of the trans people surveyed "primarily refrain from sport because they do not feel safe in the existing infrastructure as (visible) trans people". 25% are almost ten percent more non-athletes than in the general population. 5

However, gender-neutral changing rooms are not only important for trans people; properly implemented, they can also benefit, for example, people who cannot use group changing rooms because of discrimination based on societal ideals of beauty or for religious reasons. There are already gender-neutral toilets and changing rooms in many places. For example, the Züri WCs and, more recently, the barrier-free WCs and showers at the ETH campus.

Considering that over 75% of trans people have had negative experiences in sports, including transphobic statements and violence, and they cite gender-segregated infrastructure as a serious problem, one might conclude that ETH, as a federal institution of higher learning, would have to work to protect and address structural discrimination. And if the athletic facilities and locker rooms were expanded, it would be a fairly minor effort to make some of the locker rooms gender-neutral. But that possibility has now been postponed for years.

Why not "retool" now and use at least one or two gender-neutral locker rooms?

That's a good question and queer*z is working on exactly that. We will keep you posted on how the cooperation and negotiations with ETH and ASVZ are going.

  1. - Accessed 28.1.2020
  2. - Accessed 28.1.2020
  3. - Accessed 28.1.2020
  4. - Accessed 28.1.2020
  5. Lamprecht, Markus, Rahel Bürgi and Hanspeter Stamm (2020): Sport Schweiz 2020: Sportaktivität und Sportinteresse der Schweizer Bevölkerung. Magglingen: Federal Office of Sport FOSPO
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