This Battery-Powered Kinetic Sign Cleverly Marks Gender-Neutral Restrooms

updated Nov 23, 2019
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Everyone deserves safe access to public bathrooms. That’s why one artist created “degenderator” bathroom signs, to help mark and spread awareness about gender-neutral restrooms and the policies surrounding them.

What is the degenderator? Robb Godshaw, an artist, activist, and engineer, has developed two kinds of bathroom signage: a reversible sign (one side for all-gender restrooms, the other for inclusive restrooms) and a kinetic figure that constantly shifts from person-in-dress to person-in-pants. On Kickstarter, where the project is already 111% funded with 20 days left to go in its campaign, backers can choose from a variety of configurations of sign, kinetic figure, and clear cover that fits over the kinetic figure to prevent vandalization.

The best part of Godshaw’s model is that all proceeds from sales will fund free bathroom signs (though not kinetic figures), which individuals and organizations can request online via the Degenderator website

In a press release, the Degenderator team points out that gendered single-person public bathrooms are already illegal in 20% of the United States (including California, New Mexico, Illinois, Vermont, and several cities including New York, D.C., and Austin). The same will apply to nearly all states starting in 2021. However, even in those places where gender-neutral single-person bathrooms are required, most businesses have not yet complied with the law.

The Degenderator website shares a few of the consequences of gendered bathrooms: “Almost 60% of transgender Americans have avoided using public restrooms for fear of confrontation, 30% of trans and GNC [gender nonconforming] people have eaten or drunk less to prevent the need to use the bathroom, [and] rates of urinary tract infections and kidney damage are very high in these marginalized communities as a consequence of restroom avoidance.”

“There is a practical and moral imperative to de-gender all restrooms and public spaces,” said Godshaw in the release. “The Victorian ideas that drove gender division of bathrooms in the first place resulted in horrible and low-privacy design standards of public bathrooms, which makes de-gendering seem like it would be awkward to the general public. Well-designed facilities consist mainly of building real walls and doors to replace the flimsy partitions, and enclosing any urinals. Degendering all restrooms would results in lower wait times, provide more opportunities for children to see a less gendered world, and give easier access for people who need attendants as well as families with young children.” 

The kinetic figure can run for more than two years on one set of AA batteries, and it can also stand on its feet for a cool desk toy. Both the figure and the reversible sign are available on Kickstarter for 20 more days.