The University of Otago is investigating installing
''gender-neutral'' toilets after calls from the trans
community, who say they face being abused when going to the
Otago University Students' Association (OUSA) gay support
co-ordinator Neill Ballantyne said he had received reports of
people in the trans community ''being pushed [and] being
yelled at'' by people uncomfortable with them using the
As a response to this and the anxiety it led to, a group
representing the trans and gay community at Otago, called
Space, was leading a campaign for more ''gender-neutral''
toilets, which could include single or multi-cubicle units.
The group, supported by Mr Ballantyne, recently met
vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne to ask for more
Mr Ballantyne was happy with Prof Hayne's response and glad
she was ''on board'' with the principles of its campaign.
However, eventually, he would like the university to
introduce a written policy on gender-neutral toilets.
Prof Hayne said the university supported the principles
behind the campaign for more gender-neutral facilities, but a
written policy would take time.
''Our goal was to be more proactive and investigate how we
could meet the needs of these students as quickly as
possible,'' she said.
University director of property services Barry MacKay said it
was in the process of investigating the provision of
gender-neutral facilities in existing buildings and
installing them in all new buildings.
Mr Ballantyne said the group was also keen for more education
on the issue.
They hoped this would reduce incidents where members of the
trans community were accosted for going to the toilet.
Asked if the campaign was an example of political
correctness, Mr Ballantyne said the ability to be able to go
to the toilet without feeling anxiety should be ''a basic
He compared it with the successful campaign around installing
disabled access for toilets.
In a recent survey carried out by OUSA, 43 respondents said
they felt uncomfortable using ''gender segregated'' toilets.