Gender neutral bathrooms formally introduced in the Union

Photo: Henry Legg
Photo: Henry Legg
Gender neutral bathrooms are now being formally introduced to the St Andrews Student Union following a decision by the Students’ Association earlier this year.
Disabled toilets have been converted into gender neutral, disabled, and invisible illness facilities.
Lewis Wood, the Association LGBT+ Officer, welcomed the introduction of the facilities and told The Saint that, “Gender neutral bathrooms are something that every progressive institution should possess. When a transgender or gender non-conforming individual is forced to use a bathroom that does not align with their gender identity, it can cause high levels of emotional and psychological distress.
“These individuals are part of an ongoing struggle against oppression, and gendered bathrooms represent the societal rejection of their right to gender identify.
“It’s a horrible experience for so many transgender individuals, and one that is so easily solved.”
Commenting on the decision to develop disabled toilets in the Union, Mr Wood said “By turning single-stall bathrooms into gender neutral bathrooms, this problem is rectified, and the Association’s building becomes a space where trans and gender non-conforming individuals feel that they are accepted, welcome, and given the respect that they deserve.

“It’s something that we should’ve done a long time ago, but I’m really proud that the Association has done it now.”

The Saint asked if there were any plans to lobby the University for greater availability of gender neutral bathrooms across facilities.

“Saints LGBT+ and the Equal Opportunities Committee are currently working on this, and we are sure to see definite progress within the wider University imminently,” Mr Wood said.

“The sports centre redevelopment introduces multiple gender neutral bathrooms, an incredible step forward for an institution that can easily be seen as stereotypically masculine and high-pressure; the sports centre has proved itself to be as progressive, welcoming, and enthusiastic about LGBT+ rights and equality as the Student’s Association, and it’s a really amazing thing.

“There are many single stalled bathrooms across the University that we should see being turned into gender neutral bathrooms soon, and we’re very enthusiastic that this is realised immediately, as it can’t happen soon enough”.

In April it was announced that gender neutral toilets and changing facilities would be included as part of a redevelopment of the sports centre and library, where they would be introduced on the ground floor and level one.

A University spokesperson explained the background behind the original decision to introduce gender neutral facilities at the time.

“As part of an action by the University Gender Equality & Athena SWAN Committee, a campaign began in LGBT History Month (February 2016) for an increase in gender-neutral toilet provision as part of increased support for trans students,” they said.

On the matter of the redevelopment a University spokesperson confirmed that “As part of any refurbishment project or new build, gender-neutral toilets have been mainstreamed into development plans.”

Despite many hailing the move to introduce gender neutral bathrooms as a positive move for equality, the decision also attracted backlash on social media at the time.

One online comment stated that the introduction was a “great irony as by catering for the minority it oppresses the majority” whilst another described it as “a very real step backwards.”

However, there were also comments that reflected support for the decision with one asserting that “This is so good to see happening. Well done to all the people involved. We aren’t living in the dark ages anymore.

“Eventually, everyone will be seen far further than skin deep.”


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