Should the gender binary be flushed away?

Lets talk about toilets. This may seem a strange topic (along with my preoccupation with pets and female farmers) but more specifically I'm talking about the normative organisation of toilets into men's and women's. It seems natural, right? We've all had that moment of potential embarrassment when we've nearly gone into the 'wrong' one. But does this separateness remain meaningful in contemporary Britain, a context in which gender is often treated in more fluid terms and as many embrace the fight for trans equality?

The division of toilets is telling of the biological assumptions surrounding sex and gender as it is a means of policing the body on the grounds of a 'natural' difference. Reasons such as hygiene, privacy and safety are often cited in the argument for gendered toilets. But, similarly to the debate for women-only trains, the justification seems to be victim-blaming and conjures up a utopian view of the efficiency of segregation. After all, sharing facilities in our homes usually goes unquestioned and single unisex toilets are defended for being space-saving.

Despite the considerations against it, many universities have pioneered gender neutral toilets as a means of promoting inclusivity, asserting the complexity and subtlety of gender. It seems accessing public toilets can present a practical issue on a daily basis for many, such as the potential anxiety experienced by the trans community, acting as a reminder of the outdated gender binary. How ironic that the toilets that once represented progress by giving men and women the same rights, may now serve as a material enactment of another kind of inequality.

What do you think? Could the merits of mixed toilets ever phase out those based on a simplistic division?

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