Toilets Matter: a Sex Matters webinar

Maya Forstater and Helen Joyce of Sex Matters were joined by journalist Rose George, author of The Big Necessity, on 18th November 2022 in the run-up to World Toilet Day.

Toilets Matter: a Sex Matters webinar. Friday 18th November, 7pm to 8pm

World Toilet Day is a chance to focus on an issue that is too often deemed unmentionable. Rose George’s book The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters delves into the world of toilets all around the world. Sex Matters has published Toilets Matter: a short guide to law and good practice which looks at whether service providers should really replace the ladies’ and gents’ with gender-neutral everything.

When researching The Big Necessity, Rose tried out everything from Chinese biogas toilets, which use human and animal waste to make energy, to Japanese techno-toilets, which wash and blowdry users’ bottoms. She journeyed through the sewers of New York and London, and met the heroes of India’s sanitation movement. In this webinar she takes us on a tour of toilets and explores why they are so important for women’s safety, dignity and well-being.

Maya presented the Sex Matters guide to toilets. Written with help from experts on building regulations and sanitary provision in public places, and drawing on a survey of 6,000 people and a review of laws and regulations, this is a simple guide to best practice, for both facilities managers and members of the public seeking to challenge poor provision.

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About the speakers

Rose George’s journalism has appeared in the New York TimesGuardianIndependentLondon Review of Books and many other publications. Her first book, A Life Removed: Hunting for Refuge in the Modern World, explored the lives of people displaced by Liberia’s wars. The Big Necessity: Adventures in the World of Human Waste was judged one of the best books of 2008 by The EconomistDeep Sea and Foreign Going, a deep dive into the container-shipping industry, won the 2013 Mountbatten Literature Award. She lives in Yorkshire, where she spends as much time as she can fell-running. You can find out more about her work at

Maya Forstater is co-founder and executive director of Sex Matters, a human-rights organisation that campaigns for clarity about sex in the law and everyday life. Her claim for discrimination against her former employer resulted in a landmark finding that “gender-critical” beliefs are protected under UK equality and anti-discrimination law.

Helen Joyce is a journalist and author of Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality, an Amazon top ten bestseller, and Times of London and Spectator book of the year. She is currently on extended leave from The Economist, where she has held several senior staff positions, to work as director of advocacy for Sex Matters. Her newsletter can be found at

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