Yukon government plans for its 1st multiple stall, gender-inclusive washroom
Washroom design shows stalls with greater privacy and no urinals
The Yukon government plans to replace two washrooms at the Whitehorse Visitor Information Centre with a gender-inclusive one that has multiple stalls — a first for a Yukon government building, it says.
"It's a washroom for any individual, essentially," Keely Bass, a spokesperson for the Department of Highways and Public Works, said on Thursday.
"They don't just benefit trans and gender-nonconforming people, but they also can make life easier for parents and children of different genders, and caregivers of elderly people or people with disabilities whose gender is not the same as their own."
At the moment, there are two public washrooms in the building. The men's washroom has two toilets and four urinals. The women's washroom has six toilets. They will be replaced with one big washroom.
According to the design plan in the government's tender, which is still open, there will be nine toilets. Two toilets, one of which will be in a closed-off family room, will be accessible.
The eight stalls' partitions and doors will be above the floor and below the ceiling by about 10 centimetres or shorter on each end, making those spaces more private than the more typical washroom stalls with shorter partitions and doors.
There will be no urinals, and the main sink will be wide enough to accommodate several faucets.
There will also be no door to the facility.
"We can tell just a lot of thought went into the safety aspects of the design," said Joe Wickenhauser, executive director of the Yukon Pride Centre which is in development.
He said that privacy is important for people, and it's clear that was considered in the design of the stalls.
"I think our community members are really glad to see the Yukon government taking feedback from our community and beginning to take some action on some of the priorities that we identified over the past few years," Wickenhauser said.
RJ Smith of Whitehorse, who identifies as non-binary and preferred not to go by any pronouns for this story, echoed similar sentiments, noting that not having a door to the facility will likely make it easier for people who may need assistance inside to be heard by people outside.
Smith described Smith's appearance as "a bit more androgynous."
The Whitehorse resident said when Smith goes into a washroom for the gender Smith was assigned at birth, people can sometimes stare, point, or confront Smith, among other actions that can make things stressful.
"I tend to plan my life in such a way that I don't have to use any public washroom," Smith said.
That includes not drinking anything in the morning to avoid having to use a public washroom later in the day, Smith said.
"I'll drink when I get home, you know?" Smith said with a slight chuckle.
The first time Smith ever used a gender-inclusive washroom was at a conference three years ago, Smith said.
"I remember going in there and just feeling about the safest I've felt in a public space in I couldn't remember how long, and I still think about that experience," Smith said.
Smith said the new washroom, when built, can serve multiple purposes, including as a more comfortable washroom for Smith and other Whitehorse residents to use when downtown.
It can also be "a really inclusive kind of first experience for visitors, and I think it can kind of help set the tone."
According to Bass, the plan is to start building the washroom in the fall, then open it next spring.