Friday, October 17, 2008
News from UK: Controversy over "De-Gendered Bathrooms" at the University of Manchester
A row has broken out at the University of Manchester after its students' union toilets were "de-gendered".
Temporary signs have made the "ladies" simply "toilets", while the "gents" have become "toilets with urinals".
The changes are in response to an unspecified number of complaints from trans students who are uncomfortable using the men's toilets. A university newspaper criticised the move but the student union said it was needed to tackle transphobia.
There are no figures on the number of transsexual and transgender students believed to be among the university's population of more than 35,000 students. The students' union welfare office declined to reveal the number of complaints, but said it was an important issue.
Women's officer Jennie Killip told the BBC: "If you were born female, still present quite feminine, but define as a man you should be able to go into the men's toilets - if that's how you define.
"You don't necessarily have had to have gender reassignment surgery, but you could just define yourself as a man, feel very masculine in yourself, feel that in fact being a woman is not who you are."