Student Articles

Gender neutral bathrooms

By Beth Williams & Rhiannon Soliman

Gender neutral bathrooms

We all need to pee. But for some people, this is easier said than done.

We all need to pee. But for some people, this is easier said than done.

According to the Human Rights Commission’s Report on Sexual Assault on Campus, 45% of trans and gender diverse students had been sexually harassed in a university setting, which is much higher than their cisgender counterparts.

A lot of this harassment occurs in gendered spaces like bathrooms, which is why gender-neutral bathrooms are such an important resource for students who need them.

Gender-neutral bathrooms are bathrooms that can be used by all genders. Rather than being labelled as “male” or “female”, they may say “all gender” or “unisex”. Think of the toilet in your house – people of all genders use it. Behold, your very own gender-neutral bathroom!

Outside of the home, these are extremely important for trans and non-binary students, who could otherwise be harassed, intimidated, or even assaulted if someone believes they are using the “wrong” bathroom.

They can also greatly improve the mental wellbeing of trans and gender diverse students as it can help to alleviate anxiety or dysphoria that may arise from being forced to use a bathroom that may not match their gender identity or gender expression.

Of course, gendered spaces are incredibly important and validating for some, and nobody wishes to remove all existing bathrooms. But for every person who feels safe in a gendered restroom, there is someone else who does not.  

In 2017, the UTS Queer Collective wrote an open letter to the university, recommending that at least one bathroom in every building be labelled an “all-gender” facility, as well as adding gender-neutral bathrooms on every floor to any new buildings at UTS.

Since then, members of the collective have petitioned and fought for gender neutral bathrooms on campus. A petition that gained over 650 signatures was presented to the Vice-Chancellor late last year.

Because of this, the accessible toilets on the lower floors in all our city campus buildings have been re-labelled as “all-gender” restrooms. Although we acknowledge that separate bathrooms would be a better solution (rather than taking away from much-needed accessible toilets), it’s still a step in the right direction. You may start seeing some more changes around campus this year, as some other bathrooms are set to be remodelled into gender-neutral facilities.

It’s extremely important to protect and support your trans and gender diverse classmates. If you see someone being harassed in a bathroom, speak up if it is safe to do so, or report it to campus security. If you hear your friends making transphobic remarks, let them know it’s not okay, and use it as a chance to educate them. And if someone enters a bathroom, and you’re not quite sure if they are in the “right” one, let them be. We all just want to pee in peace, after all.