The University of Technology Sydney has rolled out “all-gender” bathrooms in support of gender diversity. Source: UTS
The University of Technology Sydney has rolled out “all-gender” bathrooms in support of gender diversity. Source: UTS

Reason behind controversial toilet sign

THE University of Technology Sydney has rolled out "all-gender" bathrooms in support of gender diversity.

The university, based in Ultimo, has introduced the concept in a bid to "make students feel safe and welcome on campus".

Erin, a member of the UTS Queer Collective who helped organise the campaign for all-gender bathrooms, told news.com.au the idea came out of a desire to help students avoid experiencing harassment and intimidation for using the bathroom.

"What motivated me to be involved in this campaign is that I'm a non-binary student who has been harassed in bathrooms in the past, and I experience social dysphoria as well as other types," they said.

"Gender neutral bathrooms are something that have helped with reducing my dysphoria and anxiety about being verbally abused in a bathroom setting."

They said the bathrooms would help transgender and non-binary students in a number of ways.

"By having a non-gendered space that people can use, the amount of discomfort and anxiety about being harassed, or just getting odd stares and comments because people question whether or not you belong in that space, will be much less."

While the university already has unisex bathrooms, Erin believes the introduction of all-gender bathrooms also serves a symbolic purpose.

"The difference between unisex and all gender is really just one of terminology and signage. Generally speaking, transgender people prefer something affirming like all gender or gender neutral to something which tends to be fairly binarising like unisex.

"The difference in sign can be important because it signals a degree of acceptance and an acknowledgment that gender is not equivalent to assigned sex at birth, and that there are more than 2 genders."

Ultimately, they said it would help make gendered spaces less intimidating for trans people.

"The effect that all gender bathrooms have in terms of making heavily gendered spaces less intimidating and inaccessible to trans people cannot be understated. It's a small step, but it really makes us more comfortable in our day to day lives on campus."

A statement from UTS reads: "Some people within our community don't identify with traditional binary genders (male and female). Others don't feel comfortable using a bathroom designated by gender, sometimes because they've had a negative experience using a single-gender bathroom due to their appearance or gender identity.

"All gender bathrooms provide a space that can be used comfortably by everyone."

While unisex toilets are marked with male and female symbols, the all-gender bathrooms include an additional symbol - as well as the words "All Gender" - to acknowledge gender diversity.

They can be found across nine of the university's buildings.