Safe, Accessible and Gender-Affirming Bathrooms Checklist

This is inspired by the trans activism I’m doing at the University of Montreal, a lot of which is centered around access to bathrooms for trans people. I am not, however, an expert on accessibility for people with mobility issues.

  1. Unless otherwise noted, bathrooms are not segregated. If you have no particular reason to assigned a space to men/women, then it’s open to all. This means that gender-neutral bathrooms are, in reality, just bathrooms, so you just have to say “Bathroom” or put a toilet sign on the door. Unless you are temporarily redesignating a segregated space into a gender-neutral one, there is not reason to call anything an “all-gender bathroom”. However, if not all your bathrooms are wheelchair-accessible, it’s probably useful to indicate which are and which are not.Gender-Neutral-Toilet-Sign-White-1000
  2. Everyone can access whatever space they prefer. Simple as that. No matter someone’s identity, where they choose to go is their choice. For instance, some trans women go to the men’s bathroom, because they’re not out yet; some will go to the women’s bathroom, because “that’s where I belong”; some will prefer a gender neutral. bathroom, as a result of past harassment in either space. But there are many other possibilities, especially in places that fail elsewhere in this list. For instance, men might want to access the women’s room if the men’s room doesn’t have a diaper changing table.
  3. All single-occupant bathrooms are gender-neutral. And wheelchair-accessible, incidentally. There is no reason to segregate single bathrooms.
  4. Offer a variety of multiple-stall spaces. Because everyone should have a space they feel right in. At the moment, gender-neutral spaces are the most needed, as there are generally few of them. However, some people do feel uncomfortable at the idea of multiple-stall gender-neutral bathrooms — and even though many issues are based in oppressive myths, I still think that even bigots should have the right to pee, so long as they let others do the same. Also, for some trans people such as I, using the segregated bathroom of their choice can be a gesture of affirmation. At least for now, I don’t advocate for gender-neutral bathrooms everywhere, but rather for some kind of parity in multiple-stall spaces — this way, people can choose, and gender-neutral spaces will not be overused and remain accessible to the people who need them (which might become an issue if only single-occupant bathrooms are gender-neutral). But I certainly won’t condemn those who want to go farther.
  5. In every space, at least one stall is wheelchair-accessible. Ditto for the space in general. And if there’s only one, I think shaming able-bodied people into using any of the 30 other stalls is totally legit.
  6. No third bathroom. Seriously. Creating a third bathroom marks the people who use it as “neither a man nor a woman”, and can create dangerous situations.
  7. Segregated spaces are next to each other. Because otherwise, it becomes a nightmare. Ideally, both segregated bathrooms should be wall to wall and separated by a partition wall, so they’ll be easier to adapt into gender-neutral ones, if the desire should arise to change them.
  8. Gender-neutral bathrooms are isolated from gendered spaces. Because a gender-neutral bathroom next to segregated bathrooms is not a gender-neutral bathroom, it’s a third bathroom. Unless you have reaaaally good reason — say, because an architect back in the days was a jerk to people with disabilities, and you’re adapting an old closet into a wheelchair-accessible bathroom. But really, see point 5, and the problem vanishes.
  9. All spaces are well advertised. Everyone should have no problem finding the space they want to use. This can include putting signs showing where the nearest segregated AND gender-neutral spaces are, having a clear policy that anyone can access or that is simple enough that people just get it, and having a webpage showing which bathrooms are gender-neutral/wheelchair-accessible and how to find them.
  10. Facilities are the same in all spaces. Men’s, women’s and non-segregated spaces should offer diaper-changing stations. The same applies to tampon disposal cans — some men have periods too. And so on.

If you disagree with my opinions or would like to add something, please comment! This is always a work in progress.


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