Female author slams gallery for 'gender-neutral bathrooms' that force women to walk past urinals: 'Men have grabbed additional access'
A female novelist has criticized the set-up of the gender-neutral bathrooms at a historic property and art gallery, pointing out how women who needed to use the loo would be forced to walk past urinals.
Linda Grant, a novelist who won the Orange Prize and has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize, revealed the horrifying experience she had at the Charleston House in East Sussex, which was once the home of British painters Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, and the meeting place of the Bloomsbury group.
Taking to Twitter, she posted a picture of the bathrooms she had taken from the door to one of the toilets, which showed a large urinal along one wall and cubicles lining the opposite side.
"There are two sets of gender-neutral toilets at @CharlestonTrust one with urinals and one without," she wrote. "Women who don’t want to walk into a urinal will have to share their loos with men anyway. So men have grabbed additional access. Very few men were visiting the day I was there."
She said the set-up exacerbated the problem women already face daily where they do not have easy access to bathrooms. "So what all this amounts to is expanding toilet access to men, when the problem has always been the lack of access for women," she said.
Many users online agreed with her stance, slamming the Charleston Trust for their disregard of women in the design.
"As there's nothing gender neutral about urinals, so they should be replaced with cubicles first before organizations even consider announcing that their facilities are gender-neutral," one argued.
"Just when you thought you had equality with men, they’ve come up with a cunning plan," another wrote. "Invite a tiny minority of men to change gender by just saying so in most cases, make everyone call them women, make all aspects of society conform & criminalize those that resent it."
Following the criticism, the Charleston Trust released a statement where they insisted they were "committed to creating safe, welcoming and inclusive spaces for all our visitors and staff" and had introduced the gender-neutral toilets to "help members of the queer and trans community feel safe with us, and to ensure disabled visitors who need assistance are not troubled by the gender of their carer."
"The doors to each block of toilets are clearly labeled so that before entering, visitors know which block contains urinals and individual cubicles and which one contains only individual cubicles," the trust said. "We recognize that the way the toilets are currently designed has practical limitations, and are exploring removing the urinals to make both toilet blocks truly gender-inclusive."
"We are also mindful that some people may be uncomfortable using gender-inclusive facilities, and so continue to provide gender-specific toilets in another area of our site," the statement continued. "Our ultimate aim is to be considerate and respectful of everyone's needs."
"We want Charleston to be a place people can enjoy without fear of being made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome or unsafe because of their race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, sex, gender identity or expression, religion, cultural background, age, or physical or mental ability."