Queering Bathrooms: Gender, Sexuality, and the Hygienic Imagination

Queering Bathrooms: Gender, Sexuality, and the Hygienic Imagination

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Sheila L. Cavanagh

University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2010
World Rights
304 Pages
ISBN 9781442610736
Published Oct 2010
Online discount: 15%
 $32.95    $28.01
ISBN 9781442641549
Published Oct 2010
Online discount: 25%
 $78.00    $58.50
ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442699977
Published Oct 2010
Online discount: 25%
Full purchase $31.95

The intersection of public washrooms and gender has become increasingly politicized in recent years: queer and trans folk have been harassed for allegedly using the 'wrong' washroom, while widespread campaigns have advocated for more gender-neutral facilities. In Queering Bathrooms, Sheila L. Cavanagh explores how public toilets demarcate the masculine and the feminine and condition ideas of gender and sexuality.

Based on 100 interviews with GLBT and/or intersex peoples in major North American cities, Cavanagh delves into the ways that queer and trans communities challenge the rigid gendering and heteronormative composition of public washrooms. Incorporating theories from queer studies, trans studies, psychoanalysis, and the work of Michel Foucault, Cavanagh argues that the cultural politics of excretion is intimately related to the regulation of gender and sexuality. Public toilets house the illicit and act as repositories for the social unconscious. Also offering suggestions for imagining a more inclusive public washroom, Queering Bathrooms asserts that although toilets are not typically considered within traditional scholarly bounds, they form a crucial part of our modern understanding of sex and gender.

Sheila L. Cavanagh is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at York University.



  1. Queering Bathrooms: Gender, Sexuality, and Excretion
  2. Trans Subjects and Gender Misreadings in the Toilet
  3. Seeing Gender: Panopticism and the Mirrorical Return
  4. Hearing Gender: Acoustic Mirrors — Vocal and Urinary Dis/Symmetries
  5. Touching Gender: Abjection and the Hygienic Imagination
  6. Sexing Gender: The Homoerotics of the Water Closet


Glossary, by Sheila L. Cavanagh and Melissa White

'Queering Bathrooms is a compelling work that delves into power, bodily waste, and the unconscious practices that form our conceptions of gender. Sheila L. Cavanagh's top-notch scholarship addresses issues pertinent to gender studies, trans studies, queer theory, and critical studies in sexuality.'

Christopher Shelley, Women's and Gender Studies, University of British Columbia

'Who'd ever have thought that plumbing the toilet could be such a thoroughly enriching experience? Cavanagh's cartographic account of the social, the psychic, the spatial, and the relations between them is an exquisitely disorienting journey into the somatechnologies of identity and difference.'

Nikki Sullivan, Department of Cultural Studies, Macquarie University

'Sheila L. Cavanagh's Queering Bathrooms offers a smart synthesis of architectural analysis, psychoanalytic theory, and queer/transgender studies to argue that public toilets are places of profound biopolitical importance ... A fine example of useful, intelligent, interdisciplinary scholarship, this book should be of equal interest to urban geographers and architects, trans/disabled/queer activists who seek more equitable public accommodations for people with atypical embodiments, and critical theorists of the body and subjectivity.'

Susan Stryker, Department of Gender Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington

Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender Category awarded by 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards

04, US, June 1, 2011

Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender Category awarded by 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards (United States) - Short-listed in 2011