Transgender: Halifax boasts gender-neutral washrooms

The familiar stick figures remain, so as not to confuse anyone used to looking for them to point the way to a washroom. But now Capital Health has added a third figure to the signs on some of its single-stall bathrooms in Halifax to represent transgender people, in a move designed to signal a welcoming environment to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals. While the combination male-female symbol isn’t getting universal raves, the move to provide gender-neutral washrooms has been welcomed, says the co-ordinator of Capital Health’s prideHealth program. The signs came after the issue was raised more than a year ago during public consultation. “Ideally, we would have just (an image of a) toilet which seems like a simple fit. But that doesn’t exist as a universal sign, as something people across the world will be able to recognize as a bathroom,” says Cybelle Reiber. She said using words wouldn’t work because of literacy and language issues. Capital Health also didn’t want to confuse anyone with a completely different sign. “We recognize we don’t want to alienate people and we don’t want to create a situation where people don’t recognize where the bathroom is,” Reiber said. Reiber said the combination symbol is used by other organizations, including McGill University. She said reaction is mixed. “We consulted with the trans community here … contacted a number of organizations to talk to them about what seems to be the best symbol. The consensus was we ‘don’t have a perfect answer,’” she said. Still, there is progress. “Before we didn’t have any signage anywhere that recognized people may not fit the gender norms. It’s a way of … showing there’s an openness, that (all) people are welcome here.” Reiber said the three-figure signs eventually will be used on all single-stall washrooms across Capital Health. ( Reference –
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