By Raquel Mustillo
A MOUNT Gambier resident is leading a push to install gender-neutral toilets across the Blue Lake city to foster greater inclusiveness for transgender and intersex community members.
Community member George Pubben – who has requested the publication of his birth name Georgia – has called on Mount Gambier City Council to ensure any future builds of toilet facilities are all gender.
Mr Pubben has floated rebranding disabled toilets for community members who do not identify as male or female to accommodate users’ gender diversity.
He said while some toilets are designated as unisex, the term was problematic as it assumes a binary male or female.
“Using a public toilet can be a struggle for some people, especially those who are transitioning,” Mr Pubben said.
“For me personally, male and female toilets make me feel confused and I don’t know where to go.
“If I make the choice to fully transition, I don’t want to go to the male toilet because I don’t feel comfortable, but I also wouldn’t want to go to the female toilets because that would make other people feel uncomfortable.”
Mr Pubben said all-gender bathrooms needed to be separate from shared disabled toilets, as trans and non-binary people who are not disabled do not want to occupy bathrooms designated for people with accessibility needs.
“It could just be changing the signs to show what kind of facilities are available, like whether the toilet has toilets or urinals,” he said.
“There are a lot of people who don’t fit under the male or female label and there are also a lot of transgender people in Mount Gambier and other areas, so to have all-gender toilets would go a long way in showing support for trans and intersex people.”
Mr Pubben’s request has been backed by the region’s peak LGBTIQA+ group Limestone Coast Connect, which has written to council seeking a commitment to include all-gender bathrooms in new council builds and retrofit signage in existing facilities.
Mount Gambier City Council infrastructure general manager Barbara Cernovskis said staff and elected members were conscious of equity of access to public facilities for all people and will consider the information provided when planning for and upgrading public amenities.
“Council administration hopes to meet with the local group to discuss the matter further to become better informed in this area,” she said.