The toilet is often thought to be a mundane space, but for those who lack adequate or accessible toilet provision on a daily basis, toilets become a crucial practical issue which can create and reaffirm feelings of exclusion and regulation. Disabled people, for example, frequently report that ‘accessible’ toilets are not accessible enough, while other studies show that diminishing numbers of public toilets can prevent older people leaving the house. Toilets can also present a stark visual and material enactment of a gender binary in ways that can be problematic for trans, genderqueer or non-binary people. Thinking around toilets and their function as material as well as socio-cultural environments presents an opportunity to consider forms of identity in multi-faceted ways.
Around the Toilet (AtT) is a cross-disciplinary, arts-based research project funded by the AHRC Connected Communities programme, which explores the toilet as a place of exclusion and belonging. The project is based at Sheffield Hallam University with researchers working across three universities in the north of England.
Over the last five years, we’ve been working with various communities – including trans, queer and disabled people – to explore the ways that toilets can exclude some, whilst including others. More information on our current and previous research is available here.
Follow us at @cctoilettalk and
If you would like more information about the Around the Toilet project please contact Jen Slater on email@example.com.
For information specific to the Beers, Burgers and Bleach project, please contact Charlotte Jones on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Header image: © Loranchet / Sinks in the public toilet of the Castle Terrace Parking Garage in Edinburgh, Scotland / Wikimedia Commons
Hoists are definitely essential (but mostly overlooked); without them my little brother can’t use the toilet. It’s a shame that so many ‘accessible’ toilets are not actually accessible for everyone.
He’s excluded from going to so many places because he cannot use their toilets, even when they’re supposed to be accessible. It’s so sad that disabled people are still excluded in this way.
On a more positive note; the University of Sheffield Students’ Union building (and quite a few other Unions across the country, I believe) has a gender neutral toilet to provide a safe space for trans* and other-gendered students. It’s obviously still not enough and there’s a lot of work to be done, but it’s a start!
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