A Brief Response to the Government’s Consultation Paper from

Labour Trans Equality

“The review I have launched today will help all self identifying women, irrespective of whether they are also trans feminine, non-binary or gender diverse and  including pre-operative trans men,  to be assured of the adequate provision of safe and secure publically available toilet facilities.

This is a necessity especially post Covid and I have listened to the concerns raised by women and trans men in relation to this issue.

The review to establish the best way to deliver this is now a priority and will ensure that all women and preoperative trans men can expect to be treated with dignity and experience both security and safety when using toilet facilities. We want to maintain safeguards that protect the availability of inclusive toilet facilities for all women including trans, non-binary and other gender diverse people “

Robert Jenrick did not use these words but this is our view of how the Secretary of State should have properly acknowledged the concerns of all women and trans men on Launching the Consultation Paper

The simple fact, (which has probably escaped Mr Jenrick, him being a chap and all), is that there are not enough safe and secure public toilet facilities for women (including preoperative trans men) of any kind, gender neutral or otherwise and this is what should be concerning the Government.

How many times, for example, have women been confronted with lengthy queues when needing to use toilet facilities whether they be in outside public spaces, cinemas, galleries, museums, theatres and so on. ?

While we question the assertion that “over recent years there has been a trend towards replacing female-only toilets with gender-neutral toilets” and indeed would welcome details of the evidence for the assertion, in the absence of such evidence we must be sceptical as to whether there is indeed such a “trend”.

What are required are more accessible women’s toilet facilities of both kinds because the stark reality is that the real “trend” is the gradual closure and deterioration over the past few years of public toilet facilities in general but especially those managed by local authorities faced by the need to cut expenditure. (Public lavatory provision is not a statutory requirement and frankly is an easy cut to make by cash strapped local authorities.)

Clearly, however, in the last few years there has indeed been some welcome acknowledgement of the utility and desirability of gender neutral toilet facilities in some circumstances but this is not a “trend”. Rather we would see it as a pragmatic response to the need for such provision in some circumstances.

We would therefore assert that where gender neutral toilet facilities are deemed to be desirable and necessary that they must take the form of single, floor to ceiling cubicles ideally containing handwashing and drying facilities. This approach would provide privacy as well as enhance safety and hygiene, especially in relation to the specific health and hygiene needs of women including preoperative trans men and certainly given the enduring impact of Covid.

Where it is not possible to provide gender neutral toilet facilities then single sex facilities must be audited to ensure that they are secure, hygienic and safe, especially for both women and preoperative trans men

This is especially important for trans, non-binary and other gender diverse people who in accordance with the Equality Act are entitled to use toilet facilities which accord with their gender identity but who can nevertheless experience serious problems in accessing and using public toilet facilities safely and securely. This does not undermine or compete with other women’s rights.

In short provision of inclusive public toilet facilities, gender neutral or otherwise, which are safe and protect a person’s privacy and security, especially that of all women including preoperative trans men, must be the objective of the outcome of this review thereby promoting and indeed financially supporting provision of access to safe facilities for all. It is simply a matter of recognising the necessity of ensuring support for and safe access to toilet facilities for all. 

In conclusion therefore Labour Trans Equality calls upon the Secretary of State and the Government to use the opportunity provided by this review to promote and protect the provision of safe and secure publically available toilet facilities for all women including trans, non-binary, other gender diverse people and preoperative trans men. This is simply a matter of ensuring safe and secure access for all women including preoperative trans men.

Ends  

6 February 2021