Bhubaneswar: Sanitation is a basic human right. Goal 6 of the SDGs asks for universal access to sanitation and highlights the need of addressing the needs of women, girls, and those in vulnerable situations. The debate about gender equality in bathrooms has heated up in the last two decades. In comparison to men, many women complain about the unpleasant conditions they encounter when using a public bathroom. According to UNICEF, one in every three persons in the world does not have access to a safe and functional toilet. Female voices of recognized prestige in their respective fields have noted architects’ lack of gender perspective when designing a public restroom. However apart from women, the transgender people, on the other hand, continue to face a disproportionate amount of the cost of inadequate sanitation, and are frequently unable to use a toilet when they need it. Trans people confront a number of difficulties, including concerns about education, healthcare, and employment, as well as high rates of assault and homelessness.
As per the 2011 census statistics, India has 4.88 lakh transgender persons; however this figure is likely to be significantly undercounted. Access to public restrooms based on gender identification, on the other hand, has sparked controversy to the point where transgender people fear embarrassment and even eviction from these facilities. The absence of access to public restrooms has a significant impact on the physical and mental health of the transgender community. As part of the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), 1,04,802 toilet seats in community toilets have been installed, with another 1,29,809 toilet seats under development (data.gov.in 2018). While data on how many of these seats are constructed for transgender individuals is difficult to come by, a quick web search of transgender public toilets in India shows that such restrooms are a rare exception. It should be noted that Odisha will be the sixth state in India to adopt transgender restrooms. Previously, similar toilets for the third gender were created by Punjab University, Mysore Municipal Corporation, Bhopal Municipal Corporation, and Kochi Metro. The transgender community is frequently portrayed or regarded as a homogenous group with more or less constant demands on public and communal sanitary systems. In reality, transgender groups vary by caste, age, and gender; all or more of these criteria may limit a transgender person’s access to public sanitation.
Dr. Sarmistha Kabi