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Vancouver is on its way to becoming the first municipality in Canada to officially offer gender-neutral washrooms in public buildings.

The Vancouver Park Board is taking the lead and is currently drafting plans to install or retrofit washrooms to accommodate transgender people in park facilities. “For some transgender people, going to a public washroom can create anxiety and fear,” explained Vancouver Park Board Commissioner Trevor Loke in an interview for the CBC.

The design of the washrooms themselves is unlikely to be revolutionary. They will probably take the form of single-occupant facilities with a locking door, similar to offerings currently available at select community centres around the city. What’s attracting more debate at the moment, however, is the signage used to designate them.

Options under consideration include an upside-down rainbow triangle, an “all-inclusive” gender symbol and simple icons representing a toilet, with no gender designation.  The park board ultimately hopes to expand its gender-neutral offerings to include not only washrooms but change rooms, as well, in all of its facilities.

While other regions across Canada do offer gender-neutral facilities – including PEI, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and Alberta – Vancouver became the first municipality to pass a motion to amend building codes to accommodate gender-neutral washrooms in public buildings last September.

The amendment, for “single-stalled washrooms that don’t have to be specified by gender,” is intended to benefit a broad range of users, including transgender people, parents of young children of the opposite sex and caregivers with clients of the opposite sex.

The final report and recommendations on the washrooms is to be presented to the Park Board on April 28.

Photo credit: iampeas | Flickr

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