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University students push for gender-neutral washrooms8th of November 2011
Canadian students are campaigning for unisex toilets to prevent transgendered people from having to make a choice between the Gents' and the Ladies'.
Some Canadian universities - including the University of Western Ontario and the University of Victoria - have already installed gender-neutral washrooms and others are following suit.
"Not everyone conforms to gender binaries of either male or female," said Ro Mills, a transgendered student at the University of Winnipeg.
"I've seen a lot of other people's identities change while at university and during that transition it can make going to the washroom difficult or embarrassing. Using a public restroom shouldn't be a privilege - it should be a given right."
Administrators at the University of Winnipeg have agreed to change some of its washrooms into gender-neutral toilets. Chair of the board of regents Debra Radi says: "Students are not feeling safe going into either a male washroom or a female washroom, so we obviously need to create safe spaces where they feel comfortable accessing facilities on campus."
The term 'transgendered people' covers anyone who does not conform to generally-held gender roles. Transgender advocacy groups in the US took up the case for unisex toilets several years ago in a bid to end harassment and other inconveniences for transgendered people in using conventional toilets.
In 2005 there were five American cities, including San Francisco and New York, with regulations for public restroom access based on a person's perceived gender identity rather than their birth sex.