Graphic Design students win grant to develop transgender bathroom finder site

In March, three first-year Graphic Design students received a grant from the Seattle Chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) to help fund their endeavor, “Design for a Trans-Inclusive Seattle.” The $2,500 grant includes mentorship with area professionals to assist with development, and students Kate Powell, Caitlin Esworthy and Michel DeBauge plan to spend much of the summer creating it.

The final project will incorporate community buy-in to foster greater gender inclusivity in Capitol Hill. They plan to meet with local businesses to encourage them to incorporate gender neutral bathrooms in their establishments. The team will then use their design skills to create a website and use social media outreach to spread information about these inclusive establishments and, hopefully,  change the landscape of gendered bathrooms in Seattle.

“Knowing that there has been a rise of violence against LGBTQ individuals in our neighborhood has been shocking,” Kate said, speaking on what inspired the group to address this issue.

“As trans-allies, we saw an opportunity to step up. We are all very motivated to use our design skills for social good and felt like this was an issue we could address through design,” Caitlin added.

Each year, the AIGA challenges teams to make a positive impact through design and offers a grant through its Pour Back fund to help the winning team develop its project. Three finalists were chosen to present their projects to a panel of top Seattle creative professionals, who evaluated the projects’ potential to have a positive impact on the students’ communities. This is the second year in a row a team from Seattle Central has bested teams from other colleges and universities to win the grant.

“It’s such as great way to get involved in the design community and to meet with people who are doing amazing design work in a way that is also meaningful to us and our community,” Kate said.