With the discussion and execution of ideas around all-gender restrooms gathering steam across the world, a college student from West Bengal has taken it forward with the installation of innovative toilet signages for the transgender community here. As many as four toilets next to Masterda Surya Sen Metro Station in south Kolkata now display ‘Tridhara’ stickers along with the symbol (interlocked male and female forms) for the community. The idea was conceptualised by 21-year-old Sobhan Mukherjee. “I was writing about the community and attended various programmes. I realised they felt discriminated when it came to pay-and-use toilets. When I proposed the concept of signages to the local councillor Anita Kar Majumdar, she readily agreed. It requires minimum investment… for printing the stickers. All it takes is social responsibility,” Mukherjee told IANS. Mukherjee said the move falls in line with the Ministry of Sanitation’s guidelines stating that members of the third-gender community be allowed to use public toilets of their choice (men or women).”Instead of creating separate washrooms, we decided to divide the existing spaces as male, female and ‘Tridhara’ toilets and put stickers on them,” the postgraduate student in geography said.Transgender activist Ranjita Sinha has lauded the move.”It is praiseworthy since he is a student. Often we are unable to push through and start something new but he has done it,” Sinha told IANS.
Mukherjee has now spoken to councillors in other wards to get the ball rolling in different locations of the city. Last year, California in the US became the first state to adopt an all-gender restroom access law. This year Stanford University also increased the number of all-gender restrooms on campus. Panjab University in India will have a separate toilet for transgender people.