Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed a new law today that requires all single occupancy restrooms in bars and restrooms to be designated as gender neutral.
The law takes effect on January 16. The religious right has had recent success in overturning or defeating proposed LGBT nondiscrimination laws by claiming the laws will allow “men in women’s restrooms.” There have been no cases of a man dressing as a woman and raping women in a ladies room in any city or state that has passed nondiscrimination laws inclusive of transgender people.
Supporters say that making the restrooms gender neutral is inclusive of transgender people who often face harassment in public bathrooms. By removing the gender designation, it removes the impetus for strangers to judge whether gender nonconforming people are using the “correct” restroom. “I’m sure that not many of us talk about the bathroom on a daily basis, however we all utilize this space every single day,” Office of LGBT Affairs Director Nellie Fitzpatrick told LGBTQ Nation. “Further, we can all agree that using public bathrooms rarely brings about enjoyable or fond memories for anyone. However, for transgender people and many others, using a public bathroom can be a highly stressful and even dangerous experience.
This bill is an excellent way to help provide more safely accessible restrooms and eliminate the stress of some in doing what each of us do every day, simply use a bathroom.” “This bill will assist in eliminating members of the public – store owners, employees, customers and so on – from policing the gender of others,” she continued. “This bill provides a space that is labeled for its purpose – a bathroom – and not a gender segregated space that allows others to question, harass or harm those seeking to use it.”
Voters in Houston, Texas recently overturned an inclusive human rights ordinance after opposition painted it as “the bathroom bill.” Days after the vote, it was revealed that a lawyer who was one of the architects of the anti-LGBT campaign is defending a heterosexual man against charges that he hid in a bathroom and took photos of unsuspecting women changing clothes.
“All across this nation bias and hate driven legislation is drafted, proposed, discussed, promoted, and in far too many instances, passed,” Fitzpatrick said. “I am grateful to live in and honored to work for a city that has taken historic steps to protect our LGBT citizens. As our nation moves forward, we must work to make Philadelphia’s laws, ordinances, beliefs and culture the norm and not the exception!”