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The public washrooms: an instrument of sex segregation

11:00 AM, Saturday 28 May 2022 (20 minutes)

When talking about the built environment that perpetuates a heterocentric narrative, it is not possible to avoid the segregation of the sexes in public washrooms, one for the male sex and the other for the female sex. This has direct repercussions on the inclusion of queer people, on their comfort and even on their security. However, the laws imposing this separation in Canada were not enacted until the end of the 19th century, not as an instrument of segregation but rather a symbol of the inclusion of women in the public sphere, alongside men. Today, this practice of segregation has spread to such a scale that it has even been integrated into the Canadian building code. Indeed, in the 2015 version, the article clearly and unequivocally requires that there must be separate washrooms by gender when the number of people in the space in use is more than 10. This perpetuates a false dichotomy on gender according to queer theory because by imposing a choice between two sex (and only two) tends towards heteronormativity and the conception that gender is defined by the sexual type acquired at birth. In short, my communication proposal for the SEAC annual congress is to review public washrooms separated by sex. First, the regulations in place are based on a false historical fact. On the contrary, the women's toilets were an addition and not a separation from the men's one. Then, I want to clearly distinguish the effects this has on queer people in order to challenge our preconceptions about public washrooms and seek alternatives that include everyone in a safe way.

McFarland Marceau Architect
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