Highlight of the year: All-Gender Facilities

2018 Hong Kong Pride Parade Highlight: All-Gender Facilities

In a gender binary environment, facilities such as toilets, changing rooms and even fitting rooms in shops are differentiated by just two genders. Some minorities such as transgender people or family carers may feel embarrassed when using these facilities. Increasing ‘All-Gender Facilities’ in the community not only benefits the majority of people but also pay respect and gives a better choice for those minorities.

How many times do you have to visit the public toilet every day? Have you ever stopped drinking water just because you are afraid of entering public toilets? Did you know that some transgender people are afraid of going to public swimming pools, changing rooms or even toilets because their appearance and their gender on their identity cards do not match each other? ‘All-Gender Facilities’ provides a better and safer environment for transgender people.

There is an increasing number of discussions on transgender topics. In June last year, the Hong Kong government has launched a public consultation on legal gender recognition including whether a gender recognition scheme should be established in Hong Kong. However, this is only the first phase of public consultation and it only took place 4 years after the ‘W Case’ had won in court. It is still unknown when there will be a second phase of consultation and whether the Hong Kong government would consider establishing any laws on this issue.

Although legalizing gender recognition is nowhere in sight, we can still take our very first step in our daily lives to enhance the living environment for our transgender friends. Every organization, company, institute or even small shops could establish an ‘All-Gender Toilet’ while public or private leisure facilities or venues could establish an ‘All-Gender Changing Room’ so that transgender people do not have to choose between male or female facilities and that they could use these ‘All-Gender Facilities’ anytime without feeling embarrassed or stressed.

‘All- Gender Facilities’ also brings a friendly space for families and their carers of different genders. A woman once claimed that she wouldn’t allow her daughter going into the same toilet with a man who identifies himself as a female. Yet, she had never stepped into the shoes of those fathers who had to take care of their daughters and didn’t know which toilet to go to when they are in public. Did this woman think that the daughter should follow her father into a male toilet where it may be dangerous and has little privacy? Establishing the ‘All-Gender Facilities’ does not mean replacing male and female facilities. We do respect the thought of using male and female as a differentiation to all kinds of facilities but at the same time, we cannot obliterate the importance of ‘All- Gender Facilities’.

Nowadays, we can find gender friendly toilets in some universities, shopping malls, markets, hospitals and small shops. The Hong Kong Pride Parade Committee 2018 encourages everyone to support and promote the establishment of ‘All- Gender Facilities’ so as to public educate the majority to understand the existence and needs of the minorities thus making Hong Kong a gender friendly city.