Change-Makers: Maps for Change
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Touring the city’s toilets might not be top of your to-do list on a visit to beautiful Oxford, but there’s good reason Gray and team decided to track down its WCs.
It all began on NCS 2019, where they brainstormed ideas on how to make a difference in their community. They settled on a cause close to their hearts; with Gray identifying as non-binary and another member of the team being transgender, there was no better group for them to support.
And so, the hunt for gender-neutral toilets began. The reason? Gender-segregated toilets can be a massive issue for transgender and non-binary people – not only does it breed the idea or sense of ‘not belonging’, they often face intimidation, harassment and even violence by those who class them as being in the wrong facility.
The team’s project, titled Maps for Change, involved finding and mapping out all the unisex toilets in the centre of Oxford (and that’s no mean feat in bad weather) to help people locate them with ease. “It's helped the community by making going to the toilet – something most take for granted – more comfortable for transgender people.” said Gray. “It's important because they sometimes get attacked or verbally abused, because they don't look like one specific gender. Also with the rising hate crimes towards transgender people it's important to keep them as safe as possible.”
The team worked with Mermaids (a charity for transgender youth) and Gray went on Jack FM, with team member Ian, to promote the cause and its website – a particular highlight of their experience.
So what’s next for Maps for Change? Gray replied “I’m going to carry it on in my own town centre and any other places I visit that I have enough time to get around.” And they’re not stopping there - Gray is currently working on another social action project with the regional youth board. “I think it's important to keep making communities a better place”, they said.
It’s amazing to see how such a simple idea can make such a difference to the lives of many and we can’t wait to see how the project continues to grow.