Unisex public toilet

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The male and female symbols together usually indicate a unisex toilet.


A unisex public toilet, or unisex toilet, unisex bathroom, family toilet, or gender-neutral bathroom, is a public restroom or toilet that people of any gender or gender identity may use; this definition family restrooms for family or elderly use. Developers may use such restrooms to save costs and space by eliminating the need for a separate facility; e.g., airliners, trains, or buses, unisex toilets are used.

Based on the Dalhousie University's (Nova Scotia, Canada) description of gender neutral washrooms, " A gender-neutral washroom is one where the signage is visibly identified with open, inclusive language, not just male or female. It's evident these facilities are void of gender identity and have accommodations that are especially sensitive to the needs of a greater range of people. Some people are not comfortable using male or female-designated washrooms." 2

Reasons to have unisex public toilets[edit]

  • It is an equity and human rights issue for people who identify as LGBTQ. All people have the right to access washroom facilities equally
  • Safety, security and dignity
  • Eliminating discrimination and harassment (whether physically, verbally, such as comments or personal questions or emotionally, such as confused or hateful looks..etc.)
  • Privacy in the broadest sense; to eliminate barriers for all persons, no matter what their gender, age, religion, ability, health status, or shyness..etc. 2

Advocacy and Inclusion Leadership[edit]

Unisex restrooms are adopted in the US primarily because increasingly many elderly couples include a person whose mobility issues necessitates the other's assistance.[citation needed] Furthermore, transgender advocacy groups in the United States promote unisex restrooms, believing that they eliminate harassment and other inconveniences that transgender and gender non conforming people experience when using gender segregated bathrooms. 6

In 2005, five American cities, among these, San Francisco and New York, required that public restroom access be based on persons' perceived gender identity rather than their birth sex. 1

In the United Kingdom, unisex toilets are sometimes found on university campuses. Also, in early 2013, Brighton and Hove city council introduced unisex toilets.[1]

One of many examples is the Vancouver Park Board which voted in April 2014 to install gender-neutral washrooms in public buildings. They decided that they will use different signs to indicate a gender neutral washroom. The options were many, among them are an upside-down rainbow triangle, ‘all-inclusive’ gender symbol, a simple icon representing a toilet, or the word washroom or gender neutral washroom. Based on the global news online newspaper, which mentioned that "other regions across Canada offer gender-neutral facilities, but Vancouver is the first municipality to amend building codes to accommodate the washrooms in public buildings." This movement, based on commissioner Trevor Loke, was aimed to make everyone feel welcomed and included. “We think that the recommendation of universal washrooms is a good idea,” says Loke. “We will be using more inclusive language based on the BC Human Rights Code.” 3

Gender neutral washroom initiative plans could start from an inclusive approach and universal design. There have been many divers efforts in using visual language to translate a gender-neutral washroom, some are broad and more inclusive of the broader diverse users (e.g.: "washroom" or "gender neutral washroom") and others are geared towards using a specific aimed language, such as: "women, and trans women" or "men, and trans men". The first, is more of an unlearning process and that washrooms don't have to be segregated, and the later language advocates and educates people of the Trans community rights to access the washroom they prefer and feel safe and comfortable to use. 45


  1. A Quest for a Restroom That's Neither Men's Room Nor Women's Room
  2. Dalhousie university - Gender‑Neutral Washrooms
  3. GlobalNews.ca - Vancouver Park Board votes to install gender-neutral washrooms
  4. GlobalNews.ca - Vancouver Park Board asking for input on universal washrooms and signage
  5. CBC.ca - What should gender-neutral washroom signs look like?
  6. Wn.com - Mass. moves on ‘unisex’ restrooms for transgender students

External links[edit]