On Gendered Bathroom Signage in the Wedding Industry
It’s time to talk about how performative actions in the wedding industry can feel like rainbow washing.
It’s not uncommon for wedding venues to tape a “gender neutral” sign on the bathrooms for clients who ask for more inclusive accommodations. Rather than making those signs permanent, many venues opt to have gendered bathroom signage year-round. An action as seemingly simple as taping up and taking down a slip of paper can affect the daily lives of many people in the queer community.
Just because some clients aren’t asking for gender-inclusive bathrooms, doesn’t mean they aren’t needed. The labor of having to ask for accessibility or inclusion shouldn’t be put on marginalized individuals. As a nonbinary wedding vendor, I’m frequently making a choice that doesn’t align with my gender identity.
In my guide to accessibility in Philadelphia wedding venues, I asked coordinators if their restrooms were accessible and gender-inclusive. Cities like Philadelphia require public restrooms to be marked as all-gender. If you have a smartphone, you can use the Refuge Restrooms app to find the closest gender-neutral bathroom in your area. @phillylgbtgov also has a shared doc for recordings of violations of the bathroom law. If you know of any places that have single occupancy bathrooms with gendered signage, reach out.
If you’re cisgender and planning a wedding, consider asking your venue how their bathrooms are labeled or take note during your venue tour. If you’re comfortable, ask them why.
For venues with bathroom spaces, here are some things to consider to make them safer and more inclusive: The restrooms are accessible via wheelchair, have a doorway that is at least 32 inches wide, include grab bars, flat surfaces, a roll-under sink, paddle faucet handles, a 19” high toilet, and changing tables. Universal design is good for everyone — whether it’s curb cuts or having changing stations in a bathroom for caregivers.
These features impact more than just the queer and/or disabled community and should be prioritized year-round and not just for queer weddings.