[dropcap]W[/dropcap]arwick Pride are currently campaigning to get the university to provide a block of unisex toilets in each department. This would be for the benefit of transgender students who might have an issue with choosing an appropriate toilet to use, as well as tackling the issue of potential abuse from insensitive cis students.
I personally prefer using toilet facilities specifically for my own gender – female toilets act as safe spaces for us. We share toilets cubicles. We take cute mirror selfies. We cry during drunken nights out. We don’t like having to constantly put the seat down, or having to deal with urine all over the toilet seat.
We’re able to apply make up without being judged, and it makes the issue of being on your period less delicate – no one wants to wait for a guy to leave before buying a tampon from the vending machine, because of the embarrassment.
It also causes problems for people of certain religions – some Muslim women may feel that they’re unable to use unisex facilities due to their beliefs. However, I would still use a unisex toilet, and I have done so while visiting other universities. But even if you outright refuse to use a unisex toilet, there’s no reason why unisex toilets at the university can’t exist.
The campaign to provide non-gendered toilets doesn’t conflict with the idea that women (and men) should also have their own safe spaces. The president of Warwick Pride said “We are not seeking to abolish gender-specific toilet blocks, only to ensure everyone has a facility they feel safe and comfortable using”. Women-only spaces are an essential, and Warwick Pride supports this.
I fully support the idea that no one should feel at risk of being beaten up or thrown out just because they want to go to the toilet. No one should feel unsafe when doing something that’s a part of their daily routine.
That need for safety definitely overrides my concerns about feeling less comfortable with males using the same facilities. But I also think more should be done at the university to tackle the very root of this problem – that people who identify as transgender don’t feel like they can even go to the toilet without feeling safe.
We can help those individuals to feel safer when using the toilet facilities and other gendered spaces on campus, but what can be done to make sure they always feel safe? We need to provide a space which prevents those who don’t conform to gender norms from being harmed. However, we also need to raise awareness of transphobia, in order to stop the transphobic behaviour that means we need those spaces in the first place.