The Tokyo Olympics Will Have Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

The 2020 Summer Games could be the most inclusive yet.

Tokyo officials have announced plans to install gender-neutral public restrooms in most of the venues being built for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. The unisex facilities would accommodate both transgender athletes and visitors, and anyone who might require assistance from someone of a different gender.

City planners are considering adding one or more gender-neutral bathrooms in seven of the eleven venues planned for Olympic events.

TOKYO, JAPAN - APRIL 01:  Public toilet set for the people coming for cherry blossoms at Asakusa on March 31, 2016 in Tokyo, Japan.  During cherry blossom season thousands of people gather across Japan to practice 'Hanami,' picnicking under a blooming Sakura tree to enjoy food and drinks. (Photoby Taro Karibe/Getty Images)
Taro Karibe/Getty Images

Japan is already home to many gender-neutral and wheelchair-accessible lavatories, known as “daredemo toire,” or “everyone’s toilets.” But those facilities require a large amount of space—the new facilities would be smaller and not accommodate wheelchairs. The hope is they would reduce wait-time at daredemo toire.

Maki Muraki, the head of LGBT advocacy group Nijiiro Diversity (Rainbow Diversity), praised the efforts to be inclusive.

“Along with the effort to increase the number of public toilets, it’s also important 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,” she told the Asahi Shimbun.

Japan is relatively progressive when it comes transgender acceptance: In 2015, the education ministry issued guidelines urging schools to allow trans students to wear uniforms and use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity.

But there is still discrimination: Half of trans people in Japan have reported receiving “suspicious glances” while using the restroom, and 22% reported being told not to use the facility they were in.

Some respondents reported being told not to use Daredemo toire because they’re “only for people in wheelchairs.”

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