A university society has been slammed for a poster promoting transgender awareness week – as it could encourage men to use women’s toilets.
The controversial posters by Bristol University’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Society were aimed at making transgender individuals “feel safer in public spaces”.
They read: “If you’re in a public bathroom and you think a stranger’s gender doesn’t match the sign on the door, follow these steps. 1: Don’t worry about it, they know better than you.”
But the posters have sparked a backlash from feminists, who fear it could entice men into women’s toilets.
Jamie Cross, president of the LGBT Society at Bristol University, said: “The aim of this campaign was to try to make transgender individuals feel safer and more comfortable in public spaces.
“We targeted bathrooms specifically because they are usually split into binary genders.
“The posters have received an overwhelmingly positive response and several universities across the country have asked if they can use similar posters on their campuses.
“We have obviously raised awareness, which will hopefully have a positive impact on transgender people’s experiences in public spaces.”
But several people raised concerns on Twitter over the wording of the poster and the potential for it to encourage men to enter female bathrooms.
Responding via Twitter, activist John Davis said: “I’d be a little concerned some advocates of ‘Lad culture’ would take this as a challenge.”
Liverpool-based feminist blogger FireWomon said: “It makes light of the fears of any woman who does not feel comfortable sharing women-only space with males.
“It puts male ‘identity’ before females’ comfort & safety, like saying ‘Don’t worry if you see a man in the women’s toilets. He knows better than you’.
In response, Jamie said: “We are by no means encouraging people to behave inappropriately in any bathroom.
“If someone, regardless of their gender, does act in a way which causes other people to feel uncomfortable or threatened in a public bathroom then that obviously needs to be tackled.
“I think the message to take from this poster is that if you see someone who is using a bathroom in an appropriate manner, but you are uncertain of their gender, be sympathetic to the fact that this might be a transgender person who may feel uncomfortable in either bathroom.
“Thank you to everyone who is sharing our message.”
Last year, Bristol University LGBT won LGBT Society of the Year at the National Union of Students (NUS) Awards for its awareness weeks and welfare services for its trans students.
These posters followed in a similar fashion, and were used to raise awareness between the 14th and 20th November.
The work of the society has helped push the university in the right direction when helping with the LGBT community.
There are currently eight gender-neutral toilets on the Bristol campus, thanks to a recent ?30m refurbishment of the Union’s Richmond Building.