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YMCA gets gender-neutral changeroom

New "universal" locker room designed with trans community in mind

A new universal changeroom is open to the public at the Argyle St YMCA.

The universal change- and shower-room is located between the pool and the men’s and women’s changerooms. The end of the changeroom leads to the pool entrance.

It replaces old changerooms in the corridor leading to the pool, which used to be known as the “family” or “disabled” area. Anyone of any sex or age can use it. The new universal changeroom is not meant to replace the traditional same-sex changerooms.

“We chose the term ‘universal’ to be inclusive, so the transgendered community would feel comfortable in that space,” says Tosha Rhodenizer, YMCA vice-president of health, fitness and recreation.

Rhodenizer says the universal changerooms will also benefit families, where a father can bring his young daughter or mother her young son to change after having a shower. The new changeroom is clean and bright: there are new lockers and separate changing stalls with hooks for clothes and towels. People with special needs have access to separate shower rooms. Universal toilet facilities are in single rooms.

There is a common area containing the lockers, but Rhodenizer says members are encouraged to be clothed when using it. Bathing suits are mandatory in the shower area.

The Metro Y’s universal changeroom is part of a $17-million renovation project, which started in April of this year and will finish March 31, 2011. All YMCAs across the city have gone through construction phases. In Orleans, $10 million was spent on the recently renamed Ruddy Family YMCA.

landing photo cc Karen Scott/
Just Karen via flickr