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How inclusion can exclude: The case of public toilet provision for women

Greed, Clara; Bichard, Jo Anne; Ramster, Gail


Jo Anne Bichard

Gail Ramster


© 2018 Ingenta. Our built environment is required to meet human needs at the most basic of levels. If our pavements and roads aff ord our movement across the built environment's landscapes, then provisions should also be in place to meet the needs of the body in motion. This paper will take a historical perspective of the introduction and design of public toilets to illustrate how certain spaces in the city were defi ned by the bodies that toilet provision served. It will show how biological functions such as menstruation are not being met by public toilet design and infrastructure, and how overall provision is inadequate for women for both biological and social factors. Public toilets refl ect and reinforce a binary gender society, resulting in some users being excluded or their rights to access challenged by others. A new chapter is currently being writt en regarding the needs of transgender people, raising questions around existing design diff erences between men's and women's toilets and the very notion of segregating public toilets by gender, evident through the growing numbers of 'gender-neutral toilets'. However, these changes to public toilet design and provision are emerging without expert guidance and with a lack of research into how this might positively or negatively impact diff erent groups. Designers, architects and planners are facing a series of interesting challenges when considering how new and existing UK provision can be inclusive of a diversity of bodies and their rights to access without excluding those socially and culturally dependent on a gender-segregated space.


Greed, C., Bichard, J. A., & Ramster, G. (2018). How inclusion can exclude: The case of public toilet provision for women. Built Environment, 44(1), 52-76.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 5, 2018
Publication Date Mar 1, 2018
Journal Built Environment
Print ISSN 0263-7960
Publisher Alexandrine Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 44
Issue 1
Pages 52-76
Keywords public toilets, equality, diversity, gender, disability, accessibility
Public URL
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