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Conference held on Warwick’s journey to gender-neutral toilets

A conference held last Friday 30 June outlined the plans and opened a discussion regarding the gender-neutral toilets due to be installed at the University over the Summer.

The conference, motivated by the 600-signature petition set up by Warwick Pride society last year to implement gender neutral toilets, covered a variety of practical and social advantages and challenges that surrounds the move towards gender neutral toilets.

The work is set to take place over the summer of 2017, supporting the NUS estimated 28,000 trans students across the UK, and specifically those within Warwick’s community.

The decision to install gender neutral toilets was announced by the University in January.

A look at the history of the trans movement at Warwick highlighted the installation of these toilets as a result of staff and students campaigning for over ten years for trans rights.

Members of Warwick University staff, such as Scott Lloyd of the Space Management and Timetabling Team, outlined the practical challenges facing the journey to gender neutral toilets, and how University policy fits around the changes.

Sara Boiten, the co-president of Warwick Pride, and host of the eye-opening event, commented: “the conference was very successful in building connections between different unis with the same aim.”

This is in light of universities across the country taking similar steps to Warwick in the last few years to improve the facilities and support services available for trans students, including the Universities of Nottingham and Lancaster, which have recently renovated their toilets to similar effect.

One message made clear by the organisers and the speakers involved in the event was that they were representing a national movement, and that these changes will “benefit trans students across the country” as well as the community present at Warwick.

Despite the benefits argued the installation of these toilets will bring, one student, who wishes to remain anonymous, questioned whether the merging of males and females may compromise the safe space that separate toilets offer women.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community at the University are however largely behind the change, with first year student Ada Joy commending the already existing unisex toilets, in the Dirty Duck for example, by expressing: “I can go in there without being uncomfortable or worried I’ll make someone else uncomfortable.”

Student satisfaction with the practicality of the plans for gender neutral toilets around campus was also apparent, as when asked about the segregated toilets that had been installed at universities such as Oxford, one student responded: “I don’t like the idea of a [single] transgender toilet, it does sound quite segregating and there are some non-gender conforming people who don’t identify as transgender.”

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