The City of Saskatoon says it is actively working towards converting recreational facilities that are outdated, with the aim of making them more inclusive to all patrons.
Officials acknowledge half of all six leisure centres run by the city have designated men’s and women’s change rooms, leaving some transgender people with few options if they want more privacy.
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“There are limited spaces that are available provide to people that need assistance or to people that are wanting a private area for various reasons,” said Jody Hauta, the city’s manager of recreation facilities and programs.
The three recreational facilities that would force a transgender person to chose between into two distinct change rooms: male and are Cosmo Civic Centre, the Field House, and Harry Bailey Aquatic Centre.
“Those would be the ones that would have facilities that would not be appropriate to seniors that need assistance, for people that maybe transitioning and also families that are bringing their younger children into the facility,” Hauta added.
Interior of Harry Bailey Aquatic Centre in Saskatoon.
If concerns arise, staff who have received sensitivity training would deal with each situation on a case by case basis. Hauta said the only solution at this point are individuals who require more privacy are allowed to use staff washrooms/change rooms at these facilities as an alternative.
“We need to respect everyone’s gender identity so what we try to do is accommodate as best as we can within our facilities,” Hauta explained.
“We also have to recognize that we need to provide safe and welcome facilities within our community for everyone.”
Exterior of the Harry Bailey Aquatic Centre in Saskatoon.
Over the past few decades, Amanda Guthrie, education and operations manager with OUTSaskatoon, said there has been a huge amount of work to make facilities more inclusive for everyone all along the gender spectrum and weighed in on the staff room option.
“If they choose a staff washroom and that’s of their choosing than that’s a great option,” she said.
“But we always want to make sure they’re given a choice.”
The city said it’s determining what needs to be done to convert these three facilities, the cost and sources of funding.
In the meantime, OUTSaskatoon wants people to open their hearts and minds to others in the community. Guthrie also wanted to reinforce that public safety is something that everyone has in mind when visiting these shared spaces.
“If any incident were to occur within a washroom in which safety was at risk then steps will be taken,” Guthrie added.
“However, if no one is at risk and everyone that is in that washroom has chosen to be in that space because it aligns with their identity then we have to be honouring human rights.”
Guthrie also noted OUTSaskatoon said it a great resource for open and safe dialogue for members of the public who have questions or concerns.
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