The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has announced its decision to mandate separate male and female toilets in all new public buildings and that separate unisex toilets should only be provided if there is space.
Our Transphobic Hate Crime Report found nearly two thirds of respondents felt unable to use public toilets due to transphobia. 1 in 4 respondents had experienced or been threatened with transphobic physical assault, and 1 in 5 had experienced or been threatened with sexual assault.
As a result of the current lack of safe bathroom provision for trans and non-binary people, we have clients who are deliberately dehydrating themselves for hours before they leave the house to avoid using public bathrooms as they are concerned they’ll be approached, and potentially attacked.
This isn’t just an issue for trans and non-binary people. We have cases of butch or masc-presenting cis women in our services who have been attacked and refused entry to female toilets as staff or other users believed they were not women, based on the way they look.
This ruling is likely to increase this harassment and informal policing of people whose looks are deemed “not female enough” or “not male enough”, which is already a significant issue for our community. Moreover, the recent “More In Common: Britons and Gender Identity” report shows that the majority of people in this country either support or are indifferent about introducing more unisex toilets in most places – which suggests this is not a policy rooted in a public mandate.
We urge all businesses and public buildings to offer gender neutral toilets so everyone, regardless of gender expression, has a space they can use without fear of invasive questioning, harassment or physical attack. Public toilets should be available to the public – and that should include the LGBT+ community.