03/27/2014 08:49 EDT | Updated 04/01/2014 10:59 EDT

Gender Symbols Should Be Changed At Vancouver Community Centres: Report

Gender symbols for men and women's facilities should be removed from Vancouver recreation centres, and replaced with neutral signage that's more welcoming for trans and gender-variant people, says a new report.

The draft report, released by the Vancouver Park Board's Trans and Gender-Variant Inclusion Working Group on Tuesday, laid out recommendations for how the board can make public spaces, signs, and programs more inclusive.

For example, signs should focus on images that show the function of each space, like a shower symbol for showers and a toilet symbol for bathrooms. rather than "gendered symbols of bodies," suggests the report.

In online surveys and community meetings, trans and gender-variant people said social anxiety and a lack of shower or change room options were challenges to using parks board facilities.

"I still look male, despite years of hormones, electrolysis, etc. I'm 6'3", big boned.... There's only so much I can do. Most people on the street still read me as male, and because of that, I don't want to make my fellow women uncomfortable. So instead I stay home," explained one survey respondent.

Another recommendation is creating three change rooms categories in new facilities of men, women and universal.

Also, signs for gender-segregated spaces should include "an indication that trans and gender variant patrons are welcome," said the report.

Gender-neutral washrooms have been installed at the University of Regina, University of Alberta, and Dalhousie University in Halifax.

Last fall, Vancouver City Council voted to change the city's building code and bylaws to allow gender-neutral washrooms in public buildings, reported CBC News.

The public can give feedback about the draft report at a meeting next week.

The final report is set to be presented and voted on at the Vancouver Park Board's April 28 meeting, the Georgia Straight reports.

What do you think of the draft recommendations? Let us know in the comments below.

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