Recent Call for Evidence on Toilets

At the end of October, the government released an open consultation with the title, ‘Toilet Provision for Men and Women: a Call for Evidence‘. The original deadline for the consultation was Friday 29th January, but this has now been extended until 11.45pm on 26th February. Jen and Charlotte responded last week. Our response was largely based on findings from our project report and a recent open access journal article which focuses on trans people’s access to toilets.

Like other trans people, organisations, and journalists have pointed out, we situate the framing of this consultation within wider attacks on trans rights, and as an attempt to put the needs of (cis) women and trans people into unnecessary conflict. 

We deliberated as to whether to share our consultation response in full on this blog, and have decided not to at this time. The reasons for this are multiple, but after seeking advice we were especially worried that ‘copy and paste’/template responses to the consultation may not be helpful, as they could be dismissed in bulk and devalue individual submissions.

We are also very aware of the burden put on trans people in responding to government consultations recently, and unsure as to the merits of encouraging others to respond to this (concerns shared by others). However, since the extension of the consultation we have noticed a number of useful threads, commentaries and advice for people who do wish to respond, and we’ll use this blog post as a place to bring some of these together. If you think we’ve missed anything, then feel free to get in touch and let us know. As always, please draw on any of the resources provided on our blog.

In our response, we stressed that we welcome further financial investment in public toilets. However, despite the claims made in the consultation, there is no evidence to suggest that there has been a significant recent increase in gender-neutral toilets, especially at the expense of gendered provisions, which are nearly always provided closeby. We made the case that gender-neutral toilets should be provided as standard alongside gender-seperated toilets, and that they would benefit a range of people, including: parents with children of a different gender; those who care for people of a different gender; and some disabled people who have a personal assistant of a different gender.

Gender-neutral toilets are also viewed as a safer and more comfortable option for some people whose gender is questioned in the toilet, including some transgender and non-binary people, as well as some cisgender people (i.e. people who are not transgender), particularly those who are gender non-conforming and/or lesbian, gay, bisexual, or queer. These provisions can also be a way of showing recognition that some people aren’t a man or a woman, and aren’t represented by those two options alone.

We suggest that where there isn’t space for both gender-neutral and gender-seperated provision, gender-neutral provision should be prioritised, as is already the case in many small venues, such as coffee shops. Self-contained private gender-neutral toilets with their own sink were the ideal option for many people who spoke to us in our research.

We made some specific suggestions regarding gender-neutral toilet design and signage, following the recommendations in our report. We have also highlighted that there is a need for more (gender-neutral) accessible toilet provision.

Advice on what this consultation is (and isn’t)

At the current time in the UK there is no legislation or law that dictates who can enter a particular toilet, and this consultation is unlikely to change this position. Social convention, prejudice and marginalisation, however, do impact on trans (and other) people’s access to toilet spaces, and gender-neutral toilets can be helpful in reducing gender policing in the toilet. Many trans people that we spoke to told us of the relief that they felt when they came across a gender-neutral toilet. This consultation relates to building regulations, which may influence the amount of gender neutral toilet provision available, which would, in turn, impact upon some trans (and some cis) people’s access to toilets away from home. Our report provides evidence of useful research which you can cite if you want to.

Templates & resources to help write a response

Dr. Giles points out that ‘copy and paste’ responses to the consultation are not likely to be helpful, and she suggests that responses from individuals will only be effective if they include personal testimony and/or individual research. This is also in line with the advice that we have been given. However, if you think a template or example of layout, research, and key issues would be helpful to you, please take a look at the guidance below.

You may want to include some of the reasons gender neutral toilets are important to you – this could be because of gender policing, but also other reasons, such as those listed above.

One of the underlying arguments used against providing gender-neutral toilet provision is that it is harmful to cis women (women who are not trans), due to the presence of men. Many women do not have a problem sharing a toilet with people of other genders – if you are a cis woman planning to respond, you might want to include your own views and wording to this effect. 

Related journalism and articles

The links below provide some useful information and background to the consultation and its wider context.


Whose Body, Whose Space? – Film Screening and Discussion

Monday 6th November 2017, 6pm – 7.45pm
The Workstation, Paternoster Row, Sheffield
Free to attend and all welcome (but please register here)
Facebook event here

This film screening and discussion explores the experiences of queer, transgender, and disabled people living in a society which hasn’t been built for their ease, comfort and safety. How does the design and use of public space teach us who’s welcome and in what form? What are the consequences of pushing some bodies and identities to the margins of society? How would a different society look, and are you ready to join us in the fight for change?

We will show a series of lively short films, including an exclusive Sheffield premiere of a new animation from the Around the Toilet project, which weaves together personal accounts from transgender, disabled and Muslim people. The film illustrates the trials and tribulations of accessing and using public toilets in a society where some are made to feel welcome and others are not. This will be screened alongside films from local and international projects about the discrimination and inequalities faced by a range of people and bodies.

Following the screening we will host a discussion, where you will be invited to share your own stories if you wish to, participate on Twitter, and consider how we can join together to inspire social and spatial change.

A range of non-alcoholic drinks and snacks will be served at the event.

We are pleased to present the following short films:

The Toilet. (5m)
This quirky animation weaves together personal accounts from trans, disabled and Muslim people, who share the trials and tribulations of accessing and using public toilets in a society where some are made to feel welcome and others are not.

Skeleton in a Beret (7m)
Two trans people talk about how they have actively used videogames as part of how they explore not just their gender, but their skills, self-confidence, and self-expression.

Flying While Fat (6m)
This animation presents the voices of fat passengers as they explain the challenges of fitting into spaces that exclude them both socially and materially. The animation encourages people to empathise with fat people as fellow passengers and human beings, and to think about the political and economic relations that contribute to this exclusion.

Jes Sache – Body Language (3m) and Mel G. Campbell (3m)
Two films produced as part of Poject Re•Vision, which uses disability arts to disrupt the stereotypical understandings of disability and difference that can create barriers to healthcare. Their stories wrestle with ways of representing disability in a culture in which disabled bodies are on display or hidden away; and how film-making allows disabled artists to explore possibilities of ‘looking back’ at ableist gazes.

This event is part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science, which takes place across the UK from 4-11 November 2017.

Accessibility Info (please get in touch with any queries)

– The event will be on one flat level and all heavy doors will be propped open for ease of use

– Films will be subtitled and BSL interpreters will be present

– No alcohol will be served at the event, and vegan, vegetarian and gluten free diets will be catered for

– Gender neutral and accessible toilets will be available in the venue

– The nearest Changing Places toilets are located at Sheffield Crucible and Ponds Forge (the Arundel Building toilet is currently out of use)

– Venue is approximately five minutes’ walk from Sheffield train station

– Venue is a short distance from the M1 parkway and Sheffield city centre. The sat nav postcode is S1 2BX.

– There’s a double blue badge parking bay which has space for three cars just outside on Paternoster Row, in-between Workstation and the Showroom cinema. It gives blue badge holders free parking all day.

– There is limited non blue-badge parking on Paternoster Row but there are several car parks in the area. Visitors receive 50% discount for Q Park located on Charles Street, S1 2NJ with an exit voucher at the Box Office or Workstation Reception.

Contact us on if you have any questions.

Call for Submissions: Toilet Zine

We’re inviting contributions to a zine all about toilets, access, and inclusive/exclusive spaces.

What can I submit?

Contributions in a range of formats are welcome: personal experiences, creative writing/stories, drawings, poetry, political essays, experimental pieces, or whatever you feel like doing. Contributions can be written anonymously if you prefer.

Please keep submissions to under 1,000 words.

What’s a zine?

A zine is a self-published mini-magazine. They can be collaborative or written individually. We’re making a collaborative zine because we’re hoping to express the wide range of different uses and experiences we have of toilets.

What are the themes?

One of our aims is to raise awareness about the ways that toilets can be unsafe, uncomfortable, and inaccessible for some people. However, we also welcome submissions that reflect on positive toilet experiences, the important role they play in our lives, and the privacy and quietness they can often provide for some of us. Themes may include:

  • Toilets and mental health

  • Disability and accessibility

  • Transphobia and public toilets

  • Racism, Islamophobia and public toilets

  • Intersex, body policing and public toilets

  • Toilets and intersectionality (especially experiences from trans, non-binary, queer and/or disabled people of colour)

  • Fatness and fat phobia in toilet spaces

  • Sex and sex work and public toilets

  • ‘Invisible’ impairments/disabilities and toilet-use

  • Parenting/childcare and public toilet facilities

  • Drug-use and toilets

  • Homelessness and public toilets

  • Funding cuts and the closure of public toilets

  • Periods/menstruation and toilet facilities

  • Importance of gender neutral toilets

  • Toilet door signs/labels

  • Queer and radical potential of toilets

  • Toilets, campaigns and protest

  • Critical ideas about ‘access’

How do I submit?

All zine submissions should be sent by Friday 14th July 2017 to or, if you would like to submit your contribution anonymously, then please use our electronic form. You’re welcome to email us an online document, scan or photograph of your contribution, or you can post something through the mail if you’d prefer.

All contributors selected for the zine will be given a small gift of thanks.

Please note: we’re hoping to include a wide range of submissions in the zine but we want to keep the zine readable and easily reproducible, so we can’t guarantee everything we receive will be included in the final publication. We’ll be in touch to let you know either way.

Please get in touch with us via if you have any questions or if would like to discuss your ideas with us.

Thank you to the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCPPE) for funding this zine.

Toilet Zine flyer.png

Please make use of our toilet resources!

We’ve created a new section on our website to collate the Around the Toilet materials we’d like to share with you all – please make use of it and feel free to share it with your colleagues/communities. The ‘Materials‘ page will be regularly updated with new resources as they become available.

There are a range of ways we think these resources might be useful to others, such as: university teaching/lecturing, teaching in schools, activist/political campaigning, research, design and workshops. We hope you may have other ideas too!

The materials we’ve produced focus on toilet use and access in a range of ways, but may also be of use in exploring issues beyond the toilet. Some of the themes of our work include (in)accessibility, discrimination against queer and trans people, disability, ableism, religion, gender, sexuality, bodies, parenting, workers’ rights, architecture and design, schools, and toilet ‘training’.

If you do make use of our materials (or if you already have!), we would really appreciate your feedback and a bit of information about how the materials are used. There’s a short form on the Materials page for you to get in touch. We hope the materials will be useful to you and encourage some interesting and important conversations!

We’re back! Taking Around the Toilet to New Spaces

Good news! We’ve been awarded further funding from AHRC Connected Communities to continue the Around the Toilet project. We’ve called the next stage of the project: Arts, Architecture, Activism & Access: Taking Around the Toilet to New Spaces (or ‘New Spaces’).

Over the last two 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. A lack of access to suitable toilets affects people’s lives in all kinds of ways; exclusion from toilets often connects to wider social and spatial exclusion and segregation, as well as personal discomfort. The New Spaces project will focus on impact and engagement activities to help us develop this research further. The project has three strands: 1) working with queer and disability arts organisations and events internationally; 2) sharing our Toilet Toolkit design solutions with trainee architects and design professionals; and 3) exploring toilets creatively with children and young people.

Over the next year, expect to see new toilet films and appearances at local and international arts festivals; further collaboration with Architecture students and the Toilet Toolkit used in practice; as well as an expansion of Storying School Toilets through art workshops with children and young people with learning difficulties and an exhibition of their work.

We’re still committed to expanding our collaboration and communication with grassroots campaigns, activism and communities, whilst also working with organisations who are making decisions about toilet design. Feedback at our project events reminded us of the importance of taking our findings to schools, so we’re also looking forward to the new collaborations which will come through our work with children and young people.

New Spaces will include collaboration between members of Drake Music, Purple Patch Arts, Tabú, Project Re•Vision, The Wisdom Factory, Public Toilets UK, Truckers’ Toilets UK, Action for Trans Health, Queer of the Unknown, and Live Works, as well as three UK universities.

As always, we’d love to hear from other people who are interested in the New Spaces project or are doing toilet campaigns, activism or research of their own. Get in touch with feedback, ideas, or just to say hello. You can also keep track of our progress on Twitter: @cctoilettalk and #cctoilettalk.

Around the Toilet shortlisted for national public engagement award

We’re delighted to announce that Around the Toilet is one of three projects shortlisted for the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences award in the national Engage Competition, run by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE).

Finalists have been selected from over 180 entries which demonstrate a broad range of high quality activities to inspire and involve public audiences. Finalists’ work ranged from digitally reconstructing city histories to protecting endangered species; from working with older people as researchers to delivering hyper-local science festivals; from young children conducting their own research to influence the United Nations, to using theatre to improve oral health outcomes.

The NCCPE first launched the Engage Competition in 2014 to provide a UK-wide opportunity to recognise and celebrate some of the public engagement with research activity that universities are involved in. There are six competition categories, and the winner of each category will receive a prize of £1,500 to go towards further public engagement work. The winners will be decided on the 28th November, before being announced at an awards ceremony as part of Engage 2016, the NCCPE’s annual conference, on 29th November 2016.

We would like to send our thanks to everyone who has been involved in Around the Toilet (including our sister projects, Travelling Toilet Tales, Storying School Toilets and Servicing Utopia). We really appreciate the range of contributions and support we have received over the last two years.

We’ll let you know how we get on!

Servicing Utopia – Toilet Toolkit Launch

TT logo

[Image: Servicing Utopia logo. Orange toilet stencil.]


Servicing Utopia is a digital Toilet Toolkit designed to support planners, architects and designers to critically and creatively rethink notions of access in relation to the toilet design process.

The digital toolkit has been developed in response to the stories of people involved in the Around the Toilet project for whom accessing a safe and comfortable toilet space is a continual challenge.

For many people everyday journeys are often planned around the un/availability of a suitable toilet. People speak of not leaving the house, not drinking and losing jobs due to a lack of toilet access for a number of distinct reasons. There is, in its most literal sense, ‘no place’ for them to go (and hence, sometimes, they go ‘nowhere’). For many, ‘a good place’ to use the toilet does not yet exist, or at least not in sufficient numbers.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 09.30.06

[Image: Screenshot of the Toilet Toolkit. Four grey drawings of the insides and outsides of buildings, some with toilet doors or signs. Orange captions label different contexts.]

Since March 2015 we have run workshops with architects to engage with their responses to these stories and explore the opportunities and challenges related to the design of safe and accessible toilet spaces for many people. Their insights have supported us in developing a digital toolkit that is intended to be both useful and applicable to practice. In the final stages of producing the toolkit we also consulted with Sheffield City Council’s Access Liaison Group who gave us invaluable feedback.

The toolkit aims to communicate design possibilities in relation to the issues faced by different toilet users. It is hoped that the toolkit will allow planners, architects and designers to creatively respond to the design challenges raised by the stories and experiences of those involved in the Around the Toilet project.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 09.30.34

[Image: Toilet Toolkit screenshot. Two toilet cubicles with various different furniture and equipment inside, each lit up in a different colour.]

The toolkit was developed in conjunction with Live Works, The University of Sheffield School of Architecture’s ‘Urban Room’ in Sheffield city centre, and Content On Demand, a boutique content marketing agency based in Sheffield and London.

Access the toolkit at: Take a look!

Wandering Around the Toilet, 15th September, Manchester

To celebrate 10 years of playing out, The Loiterers Resistance Movement are holding Loitering With Intent: The Art and Politics of Walking, a special exhibition at the People’s History Museum in Manchester. The exhibition will be open July 23rd – October 14th, hosting a number of fascinating events, including one from us, details below:

Wandering Around The Toilet
Wednesday 15th September (walk 2-4pm, installation all day).

This tour will explore the history of spending a penny and how a lack of public loos impacts on who can use the city. There will be tales of public health, gender inequality, the blurring of public and private space and the fight for fair access to the toilet. All day in the gallery you can meet members of the Around The Toilet Team, and see an installation designed by Architecture students at the University of Sheffield. The construction is based on the materials and design of public toilets to challenge assumptions and provoke a rethinking of issues of gender, ‘ability’, access, surveillance and the meanings of ‘public’ itself. Drop into the People’s History Museum gallery all day and book free tickets for the walk here:

Loitering With Intent: The Art and Politics of Walking
July 23rd – October 14th, People’s History Museum, Manchester

The Community Gallery will be full of art by LRM members and friends from Manchester and beyond who are inspired by creative walking. There will also be archive material, short films, music and a programme of talks, walks, games and tools to take away to start your own explorations. From cake maps to CCTV bingo and DIY maps, from strolls across oceans to travels around toilets and the fight for the right to roam we demonstrate how the pedestrian becomes an artistic and political act. Join us for a very special exhibition that shows our pavements are full of stories,  adventures and new connections just waiting to be discovered. Please come and walk, play, wander and wonder with.  A full line-up of participating artists to be revealed soon. An introduction can be found here, and the events programme here.

The LRM (Loiterers Resistance Movement) is a Manchester based collective interested in psychogeography, public space and uncovering the secret stories of the city.  Since 2006 they have been organising public walks, dérives (drifts), games and spectacles offering new ways to explore the streets.  To celebrate 10 years of loitering, please come and play.

does that include us? / yn cynnwys ni?

We’re looking forward to participating in the opening weekend of ‘yn cynnwys ni?‘ (‘does that include us?’) at the g39 gallery in Cardiff on Friday 22nd July. If you’re nearby, please come along. Full details below:

does that include us? / yn cynnwys ni?
22 July – 24 September
launch weekend: 22/23 July
g39, Cardiff

[Image: A cut-out of graph paper with a hand-drawn red border and a number on each axis. In the centre it says ‘You’ in bold, hand-drawn font.]

Does That Include Us? is a multi-artform programme of events presented by artists, facilitators and activists, some who identify as disabled and some who don’t.

For the first part of the season, 22 July – 25 August, you are invited to participate in social gatherings, performances, practical activities, conversations and debates. Through these activities we will find innovative and experimental ways to promote discussion around the subjects of access, inclusion, empathy and diversity within the arts and the wider community.  All workshops, gatherings and events are free to attend, and you can find more information on individual events throughout the season on the website; updates and amendments to the timetable, will be published here throughout the programme, as well as a weekly calendar at the beginning of each week.

Around the Toilet
Fri 22 July 4—7pm

The research for yn cynnwys ni? at g39 begun in early 2015, and started by looking at one of the most fundamental manifestations of the need for debate around inclusion and institutional good practice – the toilet. Although the warehouse currently occupied by g39 is fitted with several toilets, none of them were accessible in a wheelchair or met the current regulations in terms of planning. Eighteen months later, we are very pleased to be able to invite you to the grand opening of our brand new toilet space, built by artists, and fully compliant,  the new toilet will be opened by  Around the Toilet, a team of academics, artists, activists and students who use arts practice based methods to explore notions of belonging and what makes a safe and accessible toilet space. Following the grand opening, there will be a workshop between 5-6pm based around the idea of the Utopian toilet, run by artist Nicky Rose from The Bower Wirks and inspired by her ‘toilet challenges’.

Between 6-7pm, hear from some of the Around the Toilet team, Dr Jenny Slater, Dr Emily Cuming, Dahlia Tayel-Brown, Mikhail Tayel-Brown and Gillian Kemp about their latest project, Travelling Toilet Tales, an animation documenting journeys taken or not taken due to in/accessible toilets. People of all ages and abilities welcome.

For more on the project on Twitter : @cctoilettalk or visit their blog

Travelling Toilet Tales Film Release

Imagine a world without toilets: How would you go to school, college or university; take a trip to the park; wander around a shopping centre; go to work; or get on a long-distance train? Using the stories of people whose access to toilets is compromised in some way, this film explores how our ability to get out and about is transformed by the availability of toilets: featuring parents of disabled children who require full-length changing benches, non-binary people who are subject to abuse in gendered toilets, people with irritable bowel syndrome who might need to use a toilet with urgency, and women truck-drivers who work for long stretches without a toilet in sight, amongst others.

In our research for the Around the Toilet project, trans, queer and disabled participants shared with us their difficulties in finding toilets that were functional, easily locatable and safe. One trans woman described how her ability to socialise and go to work was limited by her access to toilets; she explained that when she felt unsafe to use public toilets, she was unable to leave the security of her house. The toilet ‘extends to everywhere’, she said, and accessible and comfortable toilets allowed her to take necessary, everyday journeys away from home. We wanted to think more about these journeys, and the importance of toilets in the seemingly mundane routines of some people’s lives.

Over the last five months, we met with a range of toilet-users and asked them to share their stories with us. Some recorded themselves from home, others recorded their stories when they were out for the day or chatted to one of our team about their experiences. This film is an edited collection of these stories, in which key moments have been highlighted in a ‘soundscape’ by Gemma Nash and animated by Sarah Smizz. The individual stories are also available to listen to and read in full here.