In October last year, the Barbican made the toilets outside one of its cinemas unisex. The sign outside the men's loos was changed to ‘gender neutral with urinals’. The women's are now 'gender neutral with cubicles'.
No one paid much attention until Tuesday, when BBC journalist Samira Ahmed took to Twitter with a pissed off complaint that women now have to queue longer – since they can't use the gender neutral toilets with urinals. ‘Women’s loo labelled “gender neutral” so full of men who also have a urinal to themselves. Totally ridiculous,’ she said.
In another tweet, Ahmed wrote that she supports trans rights: ‘Give us back women’s loos for all women. Why do women lose our space to men? All women can use ladies loo. This isn’t the USA.’ That’s, of course, referring to Donald Trump, who axed rules in US schools designed to protect transgender students by letting them use toilets according to their gender identities.
Now the Barbican has released a statement defending its decision to make its transgender and non-binary visitors feel more welcome but admitting that it could have done with a wider consultation.
‘The Barbican is committed to providing a supportive, inclusive and flexible space for all our audiences and staff and introduced gender-neutral toilets in one area of the Centre in October 2016.
‘We recognise that the way our gender neutral toilets are currently implemented have practical limitations, and we will be seeking advice and undertaking further consultation to ensure the facilities we offer are welcoming for all our audience members. This will include seeking further practical guidance on implementation from relevant organisations and individuals.
‘We provide gender specific and gender neutral toilets, and our audiences remain welcome to use any facilities in line with the gender with which they identify.’