Meet Cash Huynh
They’re studying at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Cash is one of Breakthrough’s 2016-17 Fellows. They’re a non-binary trans woman of color studying Studio Art and Women and Gender Studies.
Cash, along with our other five Fellows, has been working with Breakthrough since September to challenge the culture of gender-based violence on their campus. As part of their leadership, they took this action at Bates in March 2017.
Cash has been thinking about bathroom access for a long time – since high school. In early 2017, as federal protections that allowed trans students to use bathrooms of their choice, this issue was suddenly incredibly prominent, after years and years of silence. Cash had already planned an action around bathroom access, and when the moment struck, they stepped up their timeline. In March 2017, Cash and a team of their friends – fellow people of color and gender non-conforming activists – plastered over every bathroom in every academic building at Bates, plus the dining hall and the gym, with new signs. Instead of the generic representations of “male” and “female,” Cash’s signs designate all gender restrooms with far more useful images: toilets and toilet paper. Cash was aiming to disrupt the comfort of familiar restrooms by pointing out the discomfort that trans folks experience every day.
Cash hopes these new signs will make the Bates community rethink how it handles gendered restrooms all over campus. They focused on academic building so that the most possible people would see the new signs. Cash is motivated by their own struggles with gendered restrooms on campus as a non-binary trans woman, and wants everyone on campus to have safe access to the facilities they need. This is about more than just bathrooms: for Cash, it’s a symbol of basic comfort, respect, and recognizing every person’s humanity.
Cash and their team also hung signs inside the restrooms, on walls and inside stalls, that explain the project. They tabled in the dining hall, giving everyone an opportunity to talk about the project and learn more about the need to protect trans youth on campus and beyond. The conversation on campus was extensive, including on anonymous platforms like YikYak.