Swedes confused over gender neutral toilets

Gender neutral toilets in a northern Swedish town have left visitors to the local library feeling flushed.

Swedes confused over gender neutral toilets
Signs outside the unisex toilets at Umeå public library have caused confusion. Photo courtesy of Umeå Municipality.

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Unisex toilets have been installed at the new library in Umeå. But the signs to the toilets have confused many, even in gender equal Sweden.

A sign hanging between the doors shows a male and a female figure, and arrows pointing in both directions. And in their most pressing time of need, visitors to the library have found they don't know where to… you know.

“You usually look for a man or a woman, but here they've got both symbols,” library visitor Ida Lundström said to Swedish public broadcaster SVT.

According to Maria Westerlund, section head of Umeå public library, the arrows are meant to show that you can use either toilet.

“The arrows don't mean that women should go left and men right. But I understand it can be mistaken for a ladies' toilet and a gentlemen's toilet,” she told SVT.

“It's always very difficult to be clear when it comes to signs – they can always be understood in different ways. But if this ends up causing problems we may have to look at other options,” she added.

Despite the confusion, visitors are generally positive to the gender neutral toilets. Åsa Ågren Wikström told SVT: “I think it's great. Otherwise the men's toilet is usually available but there's a queue to the ladies.