One Equal World

Gender-Neutral Single Stall Restrooms Soon To Come in NYC

Posted on: January 20, 2016

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

Following the trend of adopting new restroom and locker room policies, New York City is well on its way toward approving legislation that would require all single-stall restrooms to be gender neutral. Last week, the city council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings heard testimony on Intro-0871, a bill that would adjust city housing, plumbing, and administrative codes to require existing single-occupancy bathrooms to be usable by any gender. Most buildings currently require sex-specific restrooms, however this legislation would offer building owners the option of assigning gender-neutral bathrooms. This is believed to be a positive step forward in the fight for safety and equal rights for gender-nonconforming and transgender individuals.

This proposal isn’t the first of its kind – a similar law was signed into action in November in Philadelphia. Nellie Fitzpatrick, director of the mayor’s office of LGBT affairs in Philadelphia, noted that in the state, there was some question about whether the law was necessary. Given that the city’s laws, similar to New York, already allow individuals to access either gendered bathroom based on their gender identity.

“The very simple answer to that is that bathrooms without designated gender or without signage labeling them as accessible to either men or only women benefit individuals who are not comfortable…when facing gendered bathrooms,” said Fitzpatrick.

There has been virtually no pushback against the city’s gender-neutral bathroom law, but Philadelphia does have the ability to fine anyone who does not comply, according to Fitzpatrick. It was recommended by Bobby Hodgson, attorney at New York City Liberties Union, that the City Council incorporate some enforcement measure into the bill and a requirement that new or renovated city buildings have single-stall restroom. According to the Department of Buildings, new buildings are not currently required to have single-stall restrooms.

“The only times I’ve ever felt truly comfortable in a public bathroom is when using a more gender neutral, single occupant bathroom. It’s upsetting that when it comes to speaking in front of [the city council] and using a public bathroom, I’m more afraid to use a public bathroom,” says Rocco Sanabria, a student at Maspeth High School.

There is a good chance of making this bill into law, as there are currently 27 sponsors. If it passes, New York City will join other cities including Austin, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.

What are your thoughts on offering a neutral option to gendered restrooms? Leave a comment below!

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