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The Importance of Gender Neutral Bathrooms

Input from August Community Members, Pip (they/them) & Bethan (she/her) from The Kite Trust, and edited together by Ruby Moon (she/her) from Team August | 3.30.2023

In honor of Trans Day of Visibility, we wanted to explore the question: "why are gender neutral bathrooms essential?"

In addition to answers from our community members, we were lucky to speak to representatives from The Kite Trust, an organization that supports the wellbeing and creativity of LGBTQ+ young people in Cambridgeshire, UK. Pip (they/them), their Chief Executive Officer and Bethan (she/her) their Programme Manager gave their professional insights into the importance of gender neutral public restrooms speaking to privacy, dignity and inclusivity.

There’s a lot to unpack, so let’s get into it.

“As a trans person who only passes about 50% of the time, it is unsafe for me to use either restroom.” – @pearlxlee

Toilets are a well-known site of bullying and, as Pip shared, “[discrimination] comes up a lot from the young people we work with.” In fact, a fear of using the toilets at school comes up in a lot of them once they recognize the risk of having to face gender-based discrimination.

We also asked if The Kite Trust’s youth ever report the opposite: a sense of euphoria from seeing gender neutral bathrooms.

This is what Pip had to say:

“It’s not too often that young people will say it gave them a sense of euphoria, but actually that’s a good thing because we’d love for all young people to be able to take for granted that they have access to inclusive bathrooms wherever they might go.

Speaking personally as a non-binary person, knowing that there is a toilet available that I feel safe to use makes a huge difference day to day. I then don’t have to think about how much water I’m drinking, don’t risk getting dehydrated, and can use my energy on other wonderful and creative projects instead!”

“Having to carry out a basic human function should never be a source of stress.”

The language or visual used on a bathroom sign could be the difference between gender euphoria or gender dysphoria.

Gender dysphoria is a feeling of distress or discomfort that arises from an incongruence between their gender assigned at birth and their true gender identity. Euphoria is the opposite.

Take it from one of our TikTok followers who shared their experience that, “gender signs on restrooms can cause gender dysphoria. We all do the same business so why do we have to pick which room?”

People go to the bathroom about 6 or 7 times per day if they’re drinking the right amount of water. Imagine that with every pee break, you’re faced with gender dysphoria because you’re nonbinary, and so you have to decide whether or not to use the men’s or the women’s bathroom. Just let us pee!!!

Comfortability goes hand in hand with affirmation. Bathrooms, as facilities for basic human functions, should always prioritize comfort.

Universal bathrooms go beyond gender.

This is about accessibility in several forms including, physical/mobility, financial, and to education.

“All of us need to use the toilet and it can become a huge barrier to education, employment or just getting out and about if there aren’t facilities that someone can feel safe using”, says Pip.

“As well as LGBTQ+ people, single stall gender neutral facilities can make a huge difference to all those who menstruate, to those supported by a carer of a different gender, and to those who feel more comfortable with the additional privacy of a private space.”

Not only does accessibility speak to the physical washroom space, but also to the amenities within. For example: period products.

@aararu_ said that with gender neutral bathrooms, “the unique needs of EVERYONE [should be] met – since not all who menstruate are women”. @straw_berry_girl14 added that, “it creates a sense of belonging [for those who menstruate] who do not identify as female”.

Another one of our community members shared that they use men’s bathrooms and get a period so, “yes please! Stock ALL bathrooms with period products.”

Furthermore, if toilet paper is offered for free, why can’t period products?

As many people in our community said, “we can’t control our period”, but deserve to have a dignified menstrual experience.

No matter what gender you are, what bathroom you’re using, or your financial capability, your biological needs should be met.

Click HERE to stock your public bathroom with August Period Care

So, consider this a call-in for:

  • Gender neutral bathroom signs

  • Single-stall options

  • Free period products offered in ALL bathrooms

  • And an end to gender-based discrimination in general.

Resources for the Trans Community

Linked here, this CNN article gives more than 20 resources that will help:

  • Trans people who need to talk to a professional

  • Those supporting trans people in their life

  • Connect to anti-violence hotlines

  • Find legal counsel

Trans Day of Visibility continues to be a celebration, despite devastating news, but it takes effort from the allies🤝

If you’re looking to improve your gender literacy, email us at care@itsaugust.co and we’d be happy to share a FREE link to LaneChanger: the online video series training made by Schuyler Bailar (he/him) – author, educator, advocate and gender inclusivity advisor to August.

This is a perfect action item if you are looking to find the words to describe yourself as trans, or if you are working to become a better ally.

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