please empty your brain below

The "arcade grab machine" is the official logo of the changing places toilet scheme.
Personal favourite is the classic “men to the left because women are always right”
Italian toilets are very confusing. Doors are marked Donne and Uomini. Don Quixote and Don Giovanni were both men: and "Uomini" sounds like "women" - simple, yes? But wrong!

German? Confusingly, for non-speakers of German, HERren and daMEN.
Some refurbished toilets on railway stations are now ‘gender neutral’ providing just cubicles, each fitted with washbasin and hand dryer (eg Southampton Central platform 4).
The toilets at Southwark Playhouse’s Borough site all have a paragraph by the door explaining that they’re all non-gendered but this one does/doesn’t have cubicles and/or urinals (as appropriate).

And while non-gendered toilets are a good idea in theory, those signs are really not great.
Toilet signs (good, bad, indifferent) come up on Reddit fairly often. Lots of different gender neutral examples. Among the bad word ones: “Pasta” / “Salad” and “Pointers” / “Setters”. And for images: For example.
There used to be an awful German-themed bar in Covent Garden called a Bunker (now closed, not to be confused with the establishment of the same name on City Road).

Its toilets were confusingly labelled HERR and HIMM. I saw the HERR first and as a German speaker, I went in.
As a child in the 60s, I visited an Irish railway station and found two doors marked "Mna" and "Fir".
Guess which one only had cubicles.
Roger: I worked in a building in 2005 where all the loos were self-contained cubicles with basin and dryer. I don't think the term 'gender-neutral toilets' had been invented yet, nor do I think anyone complained about them.

There's information about Changing Places toilets here - they're often separate from the baby change area. (Which itself is increasingly unlikely to be only in the ladies' loos, which can be a blessing or a curse depending on what's needing changed and if your other half is with you or not)
I went to a Mexican restaurant somewhere in Soho once, the toilets were labelled as caballeros I think, and whatever the equivalent for women is... stood there quite a while before making my choice. (pre mobile internet obviously)
Of course, the pictograms being out of date is not an issue as long as everyone understands that skirt = women. Very few of the things on road signs look like the things in the pictograms anymore, but as long as there is a clear recognition, it’s not a problem.
I recall an embarrassing encounter at work about 40 years ago.
The signs on the toilet doors were pictograms, non-standard, and probably dating from 30 years before that. There was very little to distinguish between the "people".

I was on my way in to what I thought was the gents' when a lady emerged and gave me a very dirty look.
To make matters worse, her role in the company was such that we all encountered her at least once a day in the course of our work, although few of us actually worked with her.
Dynion & Merched are all-too-rare in those locations which have multi-lingual signs.
I was never more undecided as the time I was confronted by two doors one had the word "US" on it and the other had the word "Them" on it.
Signs are not a problem in some areas of Flanders, the ladies have to walk past the urinals to get to the cubicles. I'm not sure what the arrangements are in Wallonia.
Herned: probably either “Damas” or “Caballeras”

I’m sure most people have on occasion blundered into the “wrong” public convenience, realised pretty quickly that there are unexpected other people (and/or are or aren’t urinals) and swiftly retreated with apologies. And then there is the ridiculous spectacle at many busy places or events of women queuing out of the door while men breeze in and out of a nearly empty room. Shared facilities makes a deal of sense, in my view, along with a large slice of tolerance and respect. We all need to go from time to time.
Your experience in Paris shows the importance of symbols for those that cannot read or understand what’s written .
That’s why most health and safety signs are pictorial!
I thought a US bar I was in once nailed it - they had two toilet blocks, one labeled Standing Up, the other Sitting Down
Many years ago, a small group of us were in a quiet courtyard bar in Budapest. One of the girls needed the toilet, and there were three doors all with a different Hungarian word and an unfathomable symbol on them. After much debate amongst the group, she opened the left door. A mop fell out. After laughing, we debated again and she tried the centre door which was full of crates of soft drink. The third one was, happily the route to the toilet!
In Poland they used a triangle and a circle.
I got it right but am not sure if my logic was correct
A Japanese toilet had an equilateral triangle symbol, apex up was for women, apex down for men. Simples?
I went to a pub-restaurant by the sea, and the 'Heads' were labelled 'Bouys' and 'Gulls'.

Not terribly obscure ('heads' is the biggest issue), but not that intuitive if you aren't familiar with how those sound really close to 'boys' and 'girls' - an American, let alone a non-English speaker, is not going to get the pun straight away due to pronunciation differences.
Shared cubicles are fine, as long as they aren't at the expense of urinals which are incredibly efficient at processing vast numbers of men quickly, and using far less water too.

The "standard" toilet symbols for men and women are very common around the world, even if women and men there dress completely differently.
Also toilets where the signs are on the entrance doors but - with increased emphasis on ventilation since the pandemic - the doors are wedged open rendering the signs invisible until you step in.

The circle with a cross or arrow symbols don't seem to have caught on. Good thing as far as I'm concerned; I can never remember which is which as there doesn't seem to be any particular logic to them.
In the “we’re so witty” category used to be the Photographers’ Gallery in its old location, where the loo doors had pics (from the waist down only) respectively of female legs in a skirt and male legs in a kilt. I’m told an arthouse cinema in Oxford used to sport “Pearl” on one door and “Dean” on the other; at Glyndebourne, the pictograms show a female figure in a floor-length skirt and the male one with a DJ and bow-tie…
With the faux greenery behind them, I wonder if the Fulham Broadway pictograms supposed to look like trees, hence no heads and one central leg. Quite why though, I am not sure. A claim that they are environmentally friendly, maybe? Goodness knows.
Sausage and Eggs lol!
To my knowledge the wheelchair symbol is an international standard and (at least in some countries) legally standardised as well. I wonder if a similar thing for men/women symbols would help.
Andrew S: in case this helps you to remember - apparently the symbol for Venus ♀ is means to be a mirror, and the symbol for Mars ♂ started as a shield and spear. More explicitly biological interpretations are available.
Andrew. No, it definitely wasn't either of those, I would have recognised Damas, and it wasn't the masculine and feminine of the same word. Google suggests Changa as Mexican slang, so maybe that
My father also resent the "creativity" of public conveniences signs nowadays. That said, he's rather quick to deduce the correct answer when I showed him the first picture of this blog.
At least when you see the two symbols together you can make a comparison and potentially work out what they mean. Seen alone on distant doors they become meaningless. The year old @sohoplace theatre opened with its toilets simply marked with long thin triangles pointing up or down. This obviously caused so much confusion they have latterly added an M or F to the doors!
At the Royal Court Theatre on the 2nd floor there is a small toilet with two urinals and a cubical. A while ago I had not noticed that they had changed the symbols on the door to include many gender types. When I went in there were two young women applying their make up with the urinals clearly visible in the mirror. I had to decide if it was ok to use the urinals or would I risk a complaint of indecent exposure. The problem being compounded by the fact that my aging prostate makes urinating a much slower business than it ever used to be. Fortunately the cubicle was free and I used that. Had it been occupied, would it have been ok to use the urinals? Nobody tells you the correct protocol in such situations!.
To answer Mike- it just so happens that my wife and I visited Wallonia last year, and we saw exactly what he describes, urinals lining the route to the ladies' toilet. I have also seen this on many French campsites. I don't really understand what is supposed (in England) to be so offensive about this.
I wonder what symbols are used in Scotland to allow for kilt wearers.

TridentScan | Privacy Policy