A group of German engineers want people to use gender-neutral urinals, and we have some questions

Public toilets are constantly evolving to keep up with societal changes, and now a group of German engineers are rallying behind a gender-neutral urinal. Naturally, we have some questions about the logistics of such a thing.

We’re 100% on board with gender-neutral bathrooms and in favor of any innovations that create safe spaces for trans and gender non-conforming folks, but we’re having a tough time understanding how these things will be used by people who are used to sitting down to pee. Do you stand? Do you hover? Do you have to do squats first to build up quad strength?

Well, the design for the urinals has actually been around for decades, and some countries do use these devices. But there are no written instructions for use. Going by the illustration, you can squat or stand to use it. If you squat, you must be in “skiing position,” i.e. with your lower back up against the wall and leaning forward. For those who prefer it, the bowl is narrow to facilitate standing.

Those who support the “female urinal” (a binary term) say that it will reduce water consumption, since women won’t need to flush as much (hopefully), and reduce lines in the ladies’ room.

Though many have expressed skepticism, the Berlin city planners are pushing for the change. In fact, they’ve created a 99-page document, called “The Toilet Concept,” which includes an outline of the plan. So if it works in Berlin, will other countries adopt it? It’s hard to tell.

So far, reviews have been mixed from people who have used these types of toilets. A government building in Salzberg, Austria introduced the urinal in 2002, but they were soon removed because women kept thinking they were in the men’s room. Conceptually it’s still a lot to figure out, and it will take time.

Perhaps this needs to be an option, but not the only option? Since it’s still in planning stages, only time will tell.