Refuge Restrooms: A Way for UAlbany Students to Find Safety Off Campus

By Sage Kuhlman | April 11, 2021


The trans-led app, Refuge Restrooms, is making it easier for disabled people, queer folks, and parents of infants to find safe inclusive restrooms.

Refuge Restrooms maps inclusive bathrooms across the world. The website or app details if a restroom is either gender neutral, unisex, single stall, disability accessible bathroom or has changing tables.

This application is helpful specifically for trans people because depending on an individual’s cis-assumability, meaning how cisgender they are perceived as, a lack of public restrooms options can lead to an unsafe situation for trans people.

According to the 2015 US Transgender Survey, 59 percent of respondents avoided using a restroom for fear of confrontation, and another 32 percent limited eating or drinking to avoid having to use the restroom in public

While the best way to support in the fight for transgender rights is to contact your representatives, Refuge Restrooms offers a way to get involved on a non-political level. Anyone can add a restroom to the website which will then be verified by the community and ratings.

Their database is generated by users adding gender neutral or safe restrooms to create a more comprehensive and valuable resource. Reviews then let visitors share experiences and information with each other about each location on the map. This means of course that the service is only as good as users make it.

Refuge Restrooms is open source, ran through GitHub where anyone can report a bug, suggest an improvement, or possibly code to help out the project.

Upon opening the IOS app a message pops up stating “Our iOS is being shut down, but Refuge Restrooms isn’t! Visit refugerestroom.org for a more functional, up-to-date experience.”

A tweet from the brand explained, “We know there are ongoing issues with the Refuge Restrooms iOS app. Unfortunately, we don’t have a dedicated IOS developer to maintain it. Refugerestrooms.org still has the lights on for you though.”

According to the Refuge Restrooms website, how they plan to stay afloat is through donations like a “crowdfunding campaign to fund some of the technology” and pay their designers and engineers. There is also a link on the brand’s twitter to their official Patreon where users can pay a monthly custom donation.

UAlbany has a population of diverse and inclusive students, faculty, and staff; to reflect that population the school has to be sensitive to the different array of needs. Accommodation resources allow for a better university environment.

Refuge Restrooms options of accessibility can help for times when students are in the greater Albany area, back home, or traveling.

As for on campus access, there are a number of Single Occupancy or Universal Restrooms that include infant changing stations, toilets with handicap railings, and emergency communication devices, according to UAlbany’s Office of Facilities Management. Out of the 333 restrooms on campus 113 are single occupancy, 184 are disability accessible, and 13 have infant stations.

SUNY recently ordered schools to label their single occupancy bathrooms as “Gender Neutral” but even after that project is complete, 14 buildings on campus will not have Gender Neutral bathrooms. Some may not have any until the 15 new bathroom projects across campus are completed as late as 2025.

Problems with restroom accessibility on campus should be reported to Facilities Management to eliminate boundaries for disabled people.

Check out more at their website: refugerestrooms.org or

Download the app on App Store or Google Play


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