Former gender identity activist: Gender neutral toilets 'common sense'

“Having access to public facilities is imperative for every human."
Ellen Kenny
Ellen Kenny

10.58 16 Nov 2023

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Former gender identity activis...

Former gender identity activist: Gender neutral toilets 'common sense'

Ellen Kenny
Ellen Kenny

10.58 16 Nov 2023

Share this article

A former advocate for transgender rights has said it’s simply common sense to introduce gender neutral toilets alongside male and female ones.

Author of Becoming Myself: The True Story of Thomas Who Became Sara, Sara-Jane Cromwell was diagnosed with gender dysphoria in 2003, a condition that causes "profound discomfort” with the gender someone is assigned at birth. 

She told Newstalk Breakfast she has never called herself a transgender woman. 


“The word trans is an umbrella term that includes everything, including the kitchen sink,” she said. 

“I no longer suffer from gender dysphoria because I completed my transition in 2015, and I’m just Sara-Jane Cromwell. 

“As my birth certificate says, I’m a female and I’m happy.” 

Newstalk survey

A recent Newstalk survey found that 51% of people think people should only use the toilets and other gendered spaces of their biological sex at birth, compared to 25% of people who said people should use the toilet of the gender they identity with.

The survey also found 49% of people don't think teenagers who wish to transition should receive puberty blockers.

Ms Cromwell said she found the results “a little bit depressing”, and people likely aren't informed enough on transgender issues.

“Two things are probably happening here,” she said. 

“[It's about] where the public get their information about trans issues and the neurobiology of gender identity, and how that information feeds into how people reply to these surveys.” 

Gender neutral spaces

Ms Cromwell said it “makes the mind boggle” that gendered spaces are still an issue for many, and there should be male, female and gender neutral toilets.

“I work as a consultant, and I advise organisations and individuals about this issue and one of the things I've been saying... is a really simple solution,” she said. 

“You have any number of toilets on any given premises – it's not beyond the bounds of anyone to be able to assign certain toilets as gender neutral. 

“Whether you're male, female, trans, you can go in and use these facilities. 

“Having access to public facilities is imperative for every human, for every citizen... it’s not beyond our abilities to see common sense.” 

She noted gender neutral toilets are becoming common in universities such as University College Cork (UCC).

The Newstalk survey found that 16% of people think all toilets and traditionally gendered spaces should be gender netural.

'The utter lack of civility'

Ms Cromwell, who also authored Wrong Body Wrong Life, was previously a lecturer at UCC and an activist – but has since stepped away from publicly speaking on LGBTQ+ issues frequently. 

“One of the things that has caused me to step away from this in recent times is the utter lack of civility,” she said. 

“The amount of belligerence and vitriol of which I've been subject to myself, which is one of the reasons I pulled away from this.

“My overall concern is for anyone who has any kind of issue that they’re struggling with, whether it’s gender or sexual orientation, any other issue, they deserve the best help they can possibly get.” 

The survey also found that 34% of people agreed that transgender people face “a lot” of discrimination in Ireland, while 33% said they face “some” discrimination.

The majority of people (52%) said putting in your pronouns in official communications such as email sign offs is an “individual choice”, while 34% said no one should put their pronouns in communications.

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