Gender-inclusive Public Spaces


When it comes to bathrooms, this small library branch in Vancouver has been inclusive since long before it was cool. The two single-stall restrooms are not gendered male or female, and are identified only by colourful images taped on the doors which are used to match the restrooms with their corresponding door keys. The images are taken from much loved children’s books, and have no association with any expression of gender identity (no princesses or knights, for example). Whether a patron is male, female, other or both, cisgendered, transgendered, young, old, able-bodied or otherwise, the washrooms are open to everyone and anyone. The keys hang on a wall where patrons can grab them without having to ask or in any way identify themselves or interact with staff – unless they want to, of course – staff always happy to chat with patrons! It’s important that patrons feel welcome in the library space, and that includes making sure that patrons only having to interact with staff if they feel comfortable doing so.

Washroom signage might seem like an insignificant thing to many of us, but for individuals who have experienced discrimination or negative interactions based on their expression of gender identity, small changes can make a real difference. Has your library or public space made changes to improve inclusivity? We’d love to hear about it, so let us know in the comments below!

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