This page is devoted to the conflict over sex-segregated spaces other than prisons, which are on a separate page here.
Toilets, bathrooms, restrooms…
…or whatever they are called where you are from, are one of most commonly searched-for topics on this site. I’ve avoided writing anything about them so far, partly because I feel they are less important than other sex-segregated spaces but mainly because it’s a quandary for which there is no ideal solution. There is no policy that would be both practicable and acceptable to everyone and would cover every kind of toilet outside the home. And, by the way, let’s quickly dispense with the unutterably silly argument that I see from time to time on social media that goes like this:
If you don’t have sex-segregated bathrooms at home, why do you need them anywhere else?
Seriously? Do you share your home with complete strangers you know nothing whatever about?
Why not make all toilets “gender neutral” (by which we mean “mixed-sex”)?
This one sounds less silly and is a nice easy solution for service providers but not acceptable to a great many service users. Of course, many cafes and small restaurants have them. The largest Costa Coffee shop near to where I live, for example, has just one toilet for public use. Nobody cares because only one person uses that private space at a time.
But when I went to a party at a North London venue in 2017, I was distressed to find that their idea of “gender neutral” was to remove the Gents sign and make everyone use these conveniences that were clearly designed for males. Using them entailed walking past men urinating into a troth to get to the cubicles, which had no locks on the doors and were located facing the handbasins. Nightclubs, I would have thought, are places where women are best served by having sex-segregated spaces, where they can escape from drunken predators and make whatever adjustments to their appearance without being gawped at by men.
If you remove the urinals, what do you get? In many public places, even longer queues for the cubicles than there were already. Don’t expect women not to mind queueing even longer than we do already. Look what happened at the Barbican.
The most disturbing and unacceptable kowtowing to gender ideology, as far as I’m concerned, comes from schools. No adolescent girl should have to feel worried about being followed into the toilet and spied on by one or more boys – and vice versa for that matter. We all know how cruel teenagers of both sexes can be. Build additional mixed sex toilets if you want to reinforce a regressive ideology and encourage youngsters to believe they can be what they are not but don’t take sex-segregated toilets away from them.
Here is a helpful page from WPUK: Mixed sex toilets in schools
The Top Shop Debacle
The above cartoon specifically lampoons the behaviour of one Travis Alabanza and how the fashion chainstore, TopShop, caved into his demands, while disregarding the possibility of causing discomfort to the very young women who comprise the bulk of the store’s regular clientele. The point of the cartoon is clearly to point out a possible consequence of having a gender-neutral changing areas, which is that sexual perverts – and there is nothing about either of those depicted to suggest they are trans – might abuse the policy for their own gratification. Rather like this example from Singapore: Man jailed for filming woman in changing rooms and these from the US.
The above cartoon upset a few people when I tweeted it because they said it was transphobic though they didn’t explain how and I was left to conclude it was a knee-jerk reaction from a bunch of idiots.
Here’s a superb response from Brendan O’Neill to the TopShop debacle: You are not a woman 19.11.17
Unisex toilets at new £47m Scots school could be removed over privacy fears The Scotsman 19.03.19
Refuges should be places where women feel safe – too often they’re not Morning Star 07.03.19
Row over Dundee Rep’s new toilet gender policy Courier 04.03.19
Warning after transgender sex offender placed in women’s hostel Courier 26.02.19
What are gender-free toilets, do we need them and should our schools have them? Sunday Post 17.02.19
Pervert Stewart Ogorman admits flashing and spying on woman Brighton Argus 08.02.19
Female-only spaces ‘must be given greater protection’ The Times 06.02.19
When Feminists Abandon Girls City Journal 03.02.19
Human rights complaint filed over trans bathroom in BC tribunal office Daily Hive 29.01.19
Why did trans women lead the Women’s March? Jo Bartosc 23.01.19
Alaska: Faith-based shelter fights to keep out transgender women AP News 12.01.19
NHS trans row as men get access to women’s wards if they identify as female Telegraph 10.01.19
Should companies install gender neutral bathrooms? Holly Lawford-Smith 03.01.19
Uni says sorry for barring trans man from using men’s toilet Metro 31.12.18
Criminal Records Show Women Are Prudent To Not Want Men In Their Bathrooms The Federalist 19.12.18
Criminal Records Show Women Are Prudent To Not Want Men In Their Bathrooms Jamie Schupe 09.12.18
Men – however they identify – shouldn’t be allowed in shelters designed for traumatised women Maria MacLachlan 06.12.18
Man arrested, accused of recording women in dressing room at Woodland Hills Mall Fox23 News 05.12.18
It’s always about toilets. It’s never about toilets. It’s Not A Zero Sum Game blog 20.11.18
Ambulance chiefs trap defacer of unisex signs The Times 18.11.18
Anger as gender neutral toilets introduced at primary school without parents knowing
Warrington Guardian 02.11.18
A Gentleman In The Ladies Jean Hatchet 11.10.18
Transgender toilet row – Protesters gather outside Lion Yard toilets to oppose changes Cambridgeshire Live 30.09.18
Transgender councillor criticises proposed change to Cambridge City Council equality policy amid toilets row Cambridge Independent 26.09.18
Unisex changing rooms put women at danger of sexual assault, data reveals Independent 02.09.18
Parents anger over new ‘gender neutral’ toilets in primary schools Herald Scotland 22.08.18
Anti-Discrimination Laws Are Wielded against a Shelter for Battered Women in Alaska National Review 16.08.18
Berlin’s new toilets: Would you use a women’s urinal? BBC online 11.08.17
One thousand people sign petition for greater privacy at pool changing rooms Wales online 27.7.18
Man admits filming women in nightclub toilets BBC online 22.06.18
Debate over inclusion of trans women in women-only spaces intensifies Guardian 09.02.18
Women’s refuges may get transgender staff The Sunday Times 04.02.18
Lancaster mum with “fear of men” locked on hospital ward with transgender patient Lancaster Guardian 18.01.18
An Open Letter to Topshop Jeni Harvey 10.11.17
Transgender policies in schools ‘a waste of time and money’, claims leading academic Independent 23.06.17
A man in the restroom at Disneyland the get real mom blog 13.03.17
Miscarriages in pub toilets. Is gender neutral ready? Fair Play for Women 05.12.17
Women’s right to sit comfortably Museum of London 06.09.17
Man abuses trans rules to strip in woman’s (sic) bathroom Pink News 18.02.16
A Rape Survivor Speaks Out About Transgender Bathrooms Kaeley Triller Haver 23.11.15
When I was raped, it was female-only spaces that helped me recover Rachel Hewitt 24.02.15
And, finally, another cartoon from the extraordinary Feminist Heretic.
Page updated 13.03.19