We had a story telling event at the studio the other day and, as part of the event, the toilets were set up as gender neutral.
This essentially meant a sign on the toilet doors that covered the “Male” and “Female” with “Gender Neutral – x cubicles, x urinals”.
This was my first time being involved with creating gender neutral toilets…so I had lots of questions (which I felt kind of shy to ask, but I did anyhow…)
It all boiled down to one question really…What’s the etiquette?
Well, as I’ve understood it, it goes like this…
Everyone is welcome to use whichever toilet they like, knowing that certain toilets have urinals. Which means if you use that toilet you are comfortable seeing someone standing at a urinal or being seen standing at a urinal.
This makes total, logical, sense.
I still found it surprisingly unnerving though.
Which makes no sense.
But that really goes to show how ‘gendered’ our lives are. From very little I’ve been taught that it is ok to go to the toilet with other men around, but not with women. And that there really aren’t any other options (genders) than that.
It also raises some uncomfortable questions for me.
Do I trust men to be in the same toilets as women?
How incredibly sad is that.
I left the gender-neutral toilets in place on the Monday and then for the Campfire that happened on the weekend. I’m very curious to know what others think about this.
Why do it? The benefits, of course, are specifically for people who don’t identify with this narrow male/female gender identity thing. Gender neutral toilets, as far as I can tell, are a way of being inclusive, a way of saying to everyone…we don’t need you to make some grand statement about how you define your gender just because you need to have a wee – that’s your business, tell us what you want to tell us when you want to tell us. If you just want to use the bathroom, these gender-neutral toilets allow you to do that, no questions.
I’m sure there’s more than that in it all. But that’s what I can see. I really like this idea, a lot. I’m aware that, like any change, it could make people feel uncomfortable. But we need a bit of that, don’t we?
Otherwise things stagnate and the patriarchy wins, right?
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