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We have Mail: Mixed washrooms? We don't think so...
Regarding your article in the Cleanzine dated 20th October (www.thecleanzine.com) concerning 'mixed' washrooms, I do not think you are a prude. You are a realist.
I am a woman; there are approximately 33,035,600 women in Britain. My husband is a man; there are approximately 32,074,400 men in Britain. The Office for National Statistics (following its Integrated Household Survey) estimated 1.5% of people in Britain are gay, lesbian or bisexual.
According to the BBC website, 'Gender Dysphoria & Transgender', the Gender Identity Research & Education Society estimates that about 1% of the British population are gender non-confirming to some degree. According to the BBC web-site, the Human Rights Act 1998 protects the privacy and dignity of gender variant children and adults. (Quote): "This protects people from being called by the wrong name, or being mis-gendered, or being made to use the wrong toilet."
As a heterosexual woman, I have been campaigning since 1985 for improvements in access to toilets, especially for women. Women who, on average, are menstruating for 40 years of their lives. With each period lasting for approximately five days in each 28, that means they are dealing with intimate sanitary issues for 65 days for each of those 40 years. I can assure you that, when I was coping with my periods, I would have regarded anything other than a toilet solely for women, as being the wrong toilet.
Of course, many women (more women than men) are quietly coping with problems associated with bladder and bowel control. They do not regard themselves as disabled. Sometimes, 'accidents' happen, and in those circumstances, anything other than a toilet solely for women is the wrong toilet.
Historically, fewer toilets have been provided for women than for men, which results in women having to queue. Why doesn't the Human Rights Act 1998 protect my dignity and ensure adequate toilet provision is made for women, by Law? Indeed, in desperation, sometimes I have resorted to using the Men's toilets, which I regard as the wrong toilets for me.
Since 2002 I have travelled extensively and have noted that when I am using toilets which share a 'joint' entrance for men & women, but have no attendant on the premises, a remarkable number of men seem to be very, very slow when adjusting their clothes. If men, women, children, transgender people (et al) are forced to use the same facilities, I will feel extremely concerned about using 'away from home' toilets. That could have a very bad effect on my health and general quality of life. My sympathies extend to women who have experienced sexual assaults etc. and who, I feel sure, would be unhappy to be forced to be in close proximity to men whilst using toilet facilities.
So, as a heterosexual woman, the right toilet for me is for the exclusive use of women, and with sufficient cubicles so that I can enjoy my privacy, with dignity - and no longer have to stand in a queue like a very visible second-class citizen.
Susan Cunningham (Author: Public In-conveniences-A practical guide to improving standards 3rd edition 2015)
E: [email protected]
24th November 2016