Sometimes it can be the smallest gestures and symbols that have the most significant impact. This couldn’t be more true for Caloundra Neighbourhood Centre Coordinator Tomas Passeggi who wanted to ensure the Trans and Gender Non-Conforming community members would feel safe and comfortable in their centre.
“We had a group of people who were attending the centre who had begun their gender transitioning process. In conversation they spoke about how uncomfortable it was to go to a public toilet and choosing between the general binary ‘male’ or ‘female’ – having to make the choice was uncomfortable and not knowing what the social consequences of their choice would be could also impact their sense of safety. This discomfort could be experienced multiple times every day.” Tomas explained.
“So, we asked the group what we could do as a community centre to make them more comfortable, and one thing they mentioned was the toilet signage.”
Rather than simply adjusting to ‘unisex’ signage which often fails to capture more fluid gender identities, Tomas worked alongside the community members and Sunshine Coast Rainbow Network to figure out the best approach. The group agreed on the wording and one of the more universally used symbols to highlight the toilets as a gender-neutral space.
“They didn’t simply want to say ‘unisex’ toilets, it was about making a political statement. If you come here and you recognise the symbol on the door, then you know it’s not just a ‘unisex’ toilet, it’s more than that”.
To ensure the spaces were more universally inclusive, it was decided that the signs needed to have a braille component, for people who have difficulty with sight. At the time, there were no suppliers offering such signs in Australia, so Tomas began researching and found a supplier in the United States. He ordered the signs, plus some to spare and have since shared them with other centres close by. It’s these acts that might seem simple to some, that can have such a significant impact to the everyday experience of people and make an important statement about an organisation’s values.
If you are interested in having similar signage in your own organisation, Tomas would recommend connecting with your local LGBTQIA2S+ community, and you can also reach out to Tomas here:
Published 25 October, 2022
Written By Taylor Bast