‘Technical review on increasing accessibility and provision of toilets for men and women’ email response template

Email to: toilets@communities.gov.uk 

Consultation outline: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/toilet-provision-for-men-and-women-call-for-evidence/toilet-provision-for-men-and-women-call-for-evidence

EMAIL TEMPLATE TO BE COPY AND PASTED:

****Please check both pages of this letter to edit and personalise where necessary****

To whom it may concern,

I am a [e.g nonbinary person / trans person / cis man / cis woman] and after reading the recent technical consultation on ‘Toilets for men and women’ I am utterly compelled to contact you.

This consultation is a direct and violent attack on transgender and Gender Non Conforming (GNC) people’s basic human rights.

There is no evidence that cisgender people face increased violence in gender neutral toilet facilities. However, we do have evidence that almost half of trans people (48%) don’t feel comfortable using public toilets, as a result of verbal abuse, intimidation, and physical assault (LGBT in Britain Trans Report, Stonewall UK, 2018). The policing of gender in toilets is a wasteful use of government funds, serving to draw unwarranted attention to a political and prejudicial ‘debate’ resulting from a wider climate of transphobia in the UK.

As stated in the consultation: ‘The Equality Act provides that sex, age, disability and gender reassignment are protected characteristics.’ I would like to highlight that the Equality Act of 2010 also serves to protect those who are discriminated because they are wrongly perceived to be trans (including many Black women, butch women and lesbians, GNC people and intersex people), many of whom face abuse and discrimination due to a combination of racism and gender policing, and therefore rely on gender neutral toilets as a safer alternative. Whilst this is not yet in the Equality Act, GNC and nonbinary people (including disabled nonbinary people) should also be entitled to gender neutral toilets, or to their personal preference of gendered facility.

The consultation also states that “Women need safe spaces given their particular health and sanitary needs (for example, women who are menstruating, pregnant or at menopause)”. This statement completely excludes the experience of trans men, intersex people and GNC people who menstruate / are pregnant / at menopause. The government’s continued erasure of already marginalised groups of people serves to reiterate the inequality in distribution of public resources privileging cisgender people.

As a [eg. nonbinary person] I have never, ever felt unsafe or at risk from being in gender neutral toilet spaces.

****[Please feel free to add personal experience here]****

The consultation states that you want to ensure that everyone is fairly served. I urge you to take seriously the negative effects that the removal of gender neutral toilets will have on the following groups - Black women, lesbian / butch women, trans and nonbinary people, GNC people, and disabled trans people - all of whom experience adverse levels of violence due to the effects of gender policing, and the compounded effect of racism, which threatens many women of colour due to racist ideas of femininity.

 

So I urge you not to remove gender neutral toilets. These spaces are not only safe but absolutely vital in the protection of so many people’s basic human rights. These spaces simply must not be taken away from marginalised groups of people who already face disproportionate levels of violence and abuse.

It is apparent that through this consultation the government has aligned itself with groups who intend to curb the rights of transgender people in the UK. It is dog whistle politics, focusing on the scapegoating of marginalised people rather than the issue at hand; increasing access to public toilet facilities. Gender neutral toilets are beneficial for a range of people and situations - for example, parents with children of a different gender; those who care for people of a different gender; some disabled people who have a personal assistant of a different gender, and both cisgender and transgender people who experience gender presentation scrutiny in public spaces.

The government claims that the intention for this consultation is to provide ‘dignity and respect for all’. I demand that they truly provide this dignity and respect by listening to the voices and needs of trans people and their allies.

Regards,

[NAME]