South Africa

Unisex toilets at Cape Town International Airport an 'idiotic idea'

Unisex toilets at Cape Town International Airport an 'idiotic idea'

Cape Town - A suggestion made by DA Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela for unisex bathrooms at Cape Town International Airport has been called the "most idiotic idea" by Capetonians.

Madikizela said in a Facebook post: "I find it backwards, discriminating and stereotyping that just because you are a male, you must be searched by a male. If you are a female, you must searched by a female at the airport, what about members of LGBTQI+? I’m gonna challenge this. We must also do away with male and female toilets, we must have unisex toilets."

Reactions on social media have been divided with many raising concerns over safety and calling the idea absurd, while others gave examples of unisex toilets already being used across the city. 

Desiree Appollis Levendal: "I'm so tired of ideas being sucked out by their thumbs. No thoughts given to these ideas. Every single day there's a baby, girl, youth, adult woman being raped and abused! DA. Just stop it man. Give food, houses and education."

Leon Olivier: "Just saying Bayside Mall in Table View has had a unisex toilet for many years now. No problems at all."

Dawn Rose: "With this country's reputation for abuse against women, the last thing I want to do is to have to share a bathroom with a male stranger!!"

Roddy Jardim: "This must be the most idiotic idea I have ever heard of, taking into consideration the amount of rape and sexual assault that occurs in SA."

Prince Limekaya: "Haha, must be bored.

Lecturer and member of the Gender Equality and Inclusivity Working Group at CPUT, Dr Nyx McLean addressed some of these points saying "gender neutral bathrooms are an important step forward in recognising the needs of transgender and gender diverse people who may not feel safe using binary option (male/female) bathrooms". 

"Gender neutral bathrooms also help the rest of the LGBTIAQ+ community feel safe should their gender expression be read as opposite to one of the binary options available.

Dr McLean did however address the concerns over safety by adding that we do need to recognise gender-based violence and that gender neutral bathrooms "may make womxn more vulnerable to violence from cisgender men". 

"The current standard approach is to have four options: male, female, gender neutral, and disabled persons bathrooms. Those who may not be comfortable with gender neutral or unisex bathrooms then may use the bathrooms already assigned to male/female identifying people," they said.

"On being searched at the airport, there are standards and these are in place to help people feel comfortable in a stressful and often invasive situation. 

"Perhaps airports can offer LGBTIAQ+ people the option to identify who they would prefer to be searched by (a sign can be placed up telling members of the community to request a suitable 'searching officer' to avoid accidental 'outing' or assumptions of people's identities based on what the official deems their identity to be)," they said.

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Cape Argus