By Saumya Tiwari
A transgender-friendly country as Japan is, it has decided to take one step ahead this time.
The country is a host to 2020 Olympics. Pertaining to its transgender-friendliness, it will be installing at least one gender-neutral toilet at all the 11 venues to be constructed. Bigger venues will be having more than one such toilet.
Daredemo toire, again?
Interestingly, washrooms being gender-friendly is not new for Japan.
Daredemo toire (“everyone’s toilets”) is quite prevalent.
The concept of unisex toilets has gained unpopularity because they were originally meant for larger spaces which could even accommodate a wheelchair. With the space-crunch in the city, their numbers have decreased.
In a bid to overcome this, newer toilets are designed to not accommodate wheelchair users. However two people will be able to use the toilet at the time. So the disabled person along with some assistance can use the same restroom.
Apart from saving transgender community from awkward glances and the dilemma they themselves face and helping them integrate with the society, these unisex washrooms will help in reducing the lines at wheelchair washrooms.
Also since few transgenders complained of people barring them from entering daredemo toire, this would put a complete end to that false rumour.
This move by Tokyo Metropolitan Government, as well as the designs for the toilets have been received very enthusiastically.
Maki Muraki, head of nonprofit organization Nijiiro Diversity (Rainbow-colored diversity), very rightly said that, “Along with the effort to increase the number of public toilets, to raise people’s awareness that those who do not look like a typical man or woman can use a toilet as a matter of course is also important.”
Any takeaways for India?
India currently has only one ‘third gender’ public toilet which is in Mysore.
With more than 4,88,000 transgender individuals in India, this lack of public toilets for transgenders challenges the right to equality.
Currently transgender people in India rely on e-toilets which can be used by both the genders. The verdict of the ruling of 2014 where Supreme Court accorded “third gender” status to transgender people, included a directive for separate toilets for transgender people in public spaces including the hospital.
India should learn from Japan and should actually start building these toilets and bless trans people with the rights they are equally entitled to.
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