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We're getting 'Gender Neutral' toilets at work

(191 Posts)
LucilleTwo Fri 16-Dec-16 20:02:23

Have name changed for this as it could be identifying from my previous posts where I work and of course I don't want to get outed/sacked.

So today we had an email to inform us all that next year the toilets in our building will all be changed to 'gender neutral'. I've heard lots about gender neutral toilets on mn but always thought it would never happen in my workplace, where despite being a very large multinational in financial services, we can't even seem to get computers to work correctly half the time. I don't see our company as being particularly modern or progressive but I guess there is quite a good equality vibe going on (mostly).

After the email, nobody seemed to be bothered other than me, although once I asked my female colleague next to me if she was OK with it, she wasn't either but didn't want to make a fuss. My boss came over and I asked him why this was happening, he said he wasn't sure but I'd just have to get over it. He also admitted he wouldn't be comfortable coming out of the toilet when there was a woman there at the same time.

Another female colleague then piped up that she doesn't have a problem with it, there's nothing that would worry her about washing her hands at the same time as a man and anyway she lives with male housemates and doesn't mind that. I didn't really know how to answer that without being rude so I just remained silent and seethed about it in the car afterwards.

I'd appreciate everyone elses view on this as I've been made to feel like I've got a problem for no reason. I know deep down I'll have to suck this up and it makes me feel frustrated that I don't have the power to change this. Tried to talk to DH about it but he didn't really get the issue and my DM said 'oh well, you can't say anything these days' and that was that! I feel like I have no one to talk to about this at all.

museumum Fri 16-Dec-16 20:05:17

It all depends on the toilets. My last place of work had almost all single toilet with basin unisex toilets. TBH I think that's the best thing for offices.

PinkiePiesCupcakes Fri 16-Dec-16 20:06:15

What's different in a gender neutral toilet?
In assume they would be like unisex toilets and they've been a thing for ages.... Ally McBeal had them....
Or am I missing something?

SpeakNoWords Fri 16-Dec-16 20:08:35

Do you know how they're changing the toilets? Is it just that they're changing the labels, or are they making them all single toilets (with sinks etc) that open onto a public corridor?

SpeckledyBanana Fri 16-Dec-16 20:08:40

I don't mind this too much as long as the cubicle doors are proper floor-to-ceiling ones.

Our Ice Rink has these, it's OK.

TheDuckSaysMoo Fri 16-Dec-16 20:10:13

Another female colleague then piped up that she doesn't have a problem with it, there's nothing that would worry her about washing her hands at the same time as a man


What is it that you don't like about the idea?

MarjorieSimpson Fri 16-Dec-16 20:11:21

It depends on the toilets surely?
Toilets that have no gaps under and above walls would be OK. Obviously no urinals.
If they are like most 'men' and women toilets with urinals, gaps at the bottom the dividing walls between the loos etc... then maybe not so great.

In the same way, si there a sink in each loo and doors open into a corridor or is it sink outside to loos and a close environment?


Randytortoise Fri 16-Dec-16 20:12:12

I wouldn't have a problem. At my last school there were only 2 adult toilets so all members of staff used both male and female toilets.

AmyInTheBoonies Fri 16-Dec-16 20:23:28

This happened at my work 5 years ago. Nobody liked the idea, I think a few of the older men were the ones who felt the most uncomfortable about it.

In the end we designated floors one and three to men and two and and four to woman amongst our selves! So although technically unisex and anyone could use either toilet it didn't happen.

I am really pleased it worked out like this, it felt like a big invasion of privacy.

MrsBlennerhassett Fri 16-Dec-16 20:29:05

I wouldnt have a problem with this at all. You all have cubicles its just the wash basins youll be sharing really.

I did grow up with family in rural france tho and in their local cafe the mens urinal was right next to the sink outside the cubicle women were supposed to use (with a hole in the ground as a loo) and men just stood their pissing as you walked past (and i was a child)...... took some getting used to compared to how uptight everyone is in the UK.

LucilleTwo Fri 16-Dec-16 20:46:34

I guess the problem I have with it is that I don't feel comfortable going to the toilet or changing sanitary ware with my male colleagues next door. Not just my immediate team either, there is a few thousand employees in the office I work in so there is a lot of unknown faces. Of course, if they changed the toilets to have floor-to-ceiling doors I may feel slightly better but to be honest still not entirely comfortable. I feel as though I have no choice in the matter and that makes me feel powerless and annoyed.

I've never really thought of myself as 'uptight' to be honest but maybe I am?! hmm

I think the best option would be to make some toilets unisex and then leave some as is and that way surely everyone can be happy? Unfortunately my employer doesn't have the best track record in providing modern office improvements so I'm not holding out much hope for clean or private facilities. I think I'd see it working out like Amy's post above where there is unofficial 'male' and 'female' cubicles.

AyeAmarok Fri 16-Dec-16 20:47:56

What is it that you don't like about the idea?

There are a few things I wouldn't like about it.

Men, I have found, tend to leave the loo in a less, um, considerate state than women. And I have a sensitive gag reflex to smells and shit-splattered toilet bowls.

Women have more to deal with when visiting the loo due to periods. I wouldn't be comfortable buying tampons from the machine in front of a male colleague. I wouldn't be comfortable removing a sanitary towel with a male colleague in the next cubicle. I wouldn't be comfortable washing blood off my hands if it was a particularly heavy period, for example.

Lots of women in my work use the mirrors at the sinks in the loos for topping up their make-up, I can't imagine them wanting to do that in front of men.

They also use the loos to get changed into and out of gym gear, which I wouldn't want to do with men there.

5000candlesinthewind Fri 16-Dec-16 20:50:51

I wouldn't like it either op, but then I'm not particularly keen on sharing with other women either. I'm assuming they won't have urinals there hopefully.

It would make sense to leave a single toilet room as an option for anyone who doesn't like sharing.

Mum2jenny Fri 16-Dec-16 20:52:53

The men use the ladies toilets where I work lots of the time. They are single toilets (one male, one female, adjacent) but you know when the men have been in the ladies as the toilet seat is up and the floor is wet. Truly unpleasant IMO.

Trills Fri 16-Dec-16 20:53:03

I wouldn't have a problem with it.

I'd almost prefer it - there's less chance of a queue if all toilets are available to everyone.

ChocChocPorridge Fri 16-Dec-16 20:55:48

Are they going to put sanitary bins in all the toilet cubicles? Because without it, they're defacto discriminating against women aren't they? (at least for part of the month for most women)

Assuming that it's going ahead, I would consider some pointed questions in that direction - it's not something that can be argued with - those are facilities that are required in a women's toilet. It's also something that will bring home a budgetary impact (emptying those bins costs a surprising amount).

Twogoats Fri 16-Dec-16 20:58:04

If they are building a brand new building, then fine.

Changing an old building? Pointless

Trills Fri 16-Dec-16 20:59:26

Changing an old building may or may not be pointless, depends on the setup.

There are no urinals at my work, they'd just need to get in more sanitary bins.

SpeckledyBanana Fri 16-Dec-16 21:03:48

Oh yeah, you doo need sanitary bins in each cubicle, definitely.

SpeckledyBanana Fri 16-Dec-16 21:04:01


AppleMagic Fri 16-Dec-16 21:04:25

I prefer not to share toilet facilities with men because of this.

Trills Fri 16-Dec-16 21:09:09

I consider that kind of thing too rare to have influence on my decisions.

RitchyBestingFace Fri 16-Dec-16 21:12:53

If they are separate toilets with sinks, sanitary bins and completely enclosed, I don't see a problem (for example the WallaceSpace facilities chain has these sort).

If it's a communal sink with flimsy cubicles absolutely not.

However I have problem enough using a toilet with female colleagues - especially when it's my period or when I have been pregnant and nauseous/constipated. I do not want to be in the same space as male colleagues when I have my pants down.

I would raise concerns with HR.

Also as Shirley in Community said:
That is the ladies room. A place where ladies go to share, listen, support each other and discreetly eliminate waste.

RitchyBestingFace Fri 16-Dec-16 21:14:17

Yes men harassing women in public spaces is so rare hmm

AppleMagic Fri 16-Dec-16 21:16:06

I don't think it's that rare. Similar thing happened at the University of Toronto (link).

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