The introduction of gender-neutral toilets means that Erasmus University now also meets the standard of enlightened and mandatory progressivism.

However, there has been no change to the interior of the restrooms. The toilet spaces that were previously only intended for male students still have urinals on the wall, and since I have not yet mastered the art of urinating while standing and I also have no desire to be confronted with men holding their genitals, I still go to the side that was previously only intended for the female half of the students.

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University Council aims to halve number of all-gender toilets

The University Council has submitted a proposal to the Executive Board on the locations…

Toilet as the frontline

Don’t get me wrong, I am fully in favour of gender equality, but I wonder why the discussion around gender equality always takes place in the restroom. The toilet has become the frontline of gender neutrality, completely ignoring the interests of women. Since the signs were changed, the toilets have become dirtier, and many women are looking for a restroom intended only for women, where they don’t have to sit in someone else’s urine, or because they don’t feel comfortable or safe with men present in the restroom.

Bogus argument

When discussing the necessity of gender-neutral toilets, you’ll often hear: “You share the bathroom at home, don’t you?” That’s a bogus argument. Firstly, I can remind my male housemates to put the seat up, but doing so at university would be impractical and would make me look ridiculously petty, verging on Karen-level behaviour.
Furthermore, it’s not just about the toilet itself, but primarily about the space outside it. The mirror where you quickly straighten your skirt or check if there’s anything in your teeth.
What I’m wondering is: “Has the female student body been asked if they’re keen on having a publicly shared toilet?” I certainly missed the survey or the suggestion box where I could voice my opinion. And it wouldn’t be the first time that policies are made completely disregarding women’s interests.

Women feel unsafe

Diversity means space for everyone, including women. So, it’s no surprise to me that some female students at Erasmus have expressed objections to gender-neutral toilets, leading the university council to propose halving their number.

The proposal wasn’t immediately embraced. For instance, council member Cagla Altin (Erasmus Alliance) voted against the suggested advice: “It took months for the proposal to come to the table. I believe we shouldn’t reduce the number of all-gender toilets. That decision could hurt non-binary and trans students and staff.”
It seems that Altin considers women feeling unsafe to be of secondary importance. And the fact that it took months is, of course, completely irrelevant. Good policymakers listen to the people for whom the policy is intended, they evaluate their policy, and make adjustments when necessary − that’s not a shame, it’s good leadership.

New toilet concept is not the solution

Altin assumes that non-binary and trans students and staff will feel hurt, but aren’t they precisely the group who know what it’s like to feel unsafe or even threatened? Wouldn’t this group be particularly willing to sacrifice a portion of the gender-neutral toilets for those who need a safe space? Altin would do well, therefore, to sit down with the people concerned and listen to what they want.

The solution to gender inequality doesn’t lie in devising a new toilet concept but in a change of mentality. It’s about accepting people as they are, regardless of their gender, regardless of how they look, regardless of whom they love. Only then do we climb another rung on the equality ladder.

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