All-gender bathrooms now mandatory in West Hollywood

| March 13, 2017

All single-stall restrooms in West Hollywood, California, will soon be open to anyone, regardless of whether they identify as men, women, or as transgender. Businesses and public spaces must change all signage to all-gender signage on existing single-stall restrooms within the next two months, according to a new ordinance, reports List.

While West Hollywood is the first city in California to pass such legislation, Washington, DC passed a comparable law in 2006; Austin, Texas did so last year, and, as of 2013, Philadelphia has required all new or renovated city-owned buildings to have an all-gender restroom. Under the West Hollywood law, all existing single-stall bathrooms must have signage welcoming all, while all new single bathrooms are now required to be for all genders.

All-gender restroom signs available at mydoorsign.com

All-gender restroom signs available at MyDoorSign.com

The new signage “aims to make using the restroom more comfortable for transgender people, those who don’t identify as male or female, parents who have children of different genders and people with disabilities who may have attendants that help them in the restroom,” explains LAist. It’s also practical, cutting down on waiting times on the restroom line for all those who need to use the facilities.

The gender-neutral signage will help to protect those who identify as transgender in a community with a large LGBT presence. As The Guardian reports, “the rule change was made at the request of the city’s sizeable transgender community, whose members say they can feel uncomfortable choosing one stall over another because it is tantamount to being outed and can pose security risks.” The West Hollywood community has a transgender advisory board, which pushed for the legislation, referencing a 2010 attack on a transgender student at California State University.

“I know for a number of transgender people that having to choose whether to go into the male or female restroom is not as easy as it can be for non-transgender people,” West Hollywood Councilwoman Abbe Land, who introduced the legislation, told the LA Times. “It’s all about access and equality.”

All-gender restrooms allow transgender people to avoid outing themselves. Sasha Buchert, a Transgender Law Center staff attorney, told the LA Times that the ordinance is “a really commonsense law, a low-cost way to meet the needs of so many communities.” Being required to use a gender-specific bathroom, Buchert says, “outs people repeatedly,” while “the new law allows those folks to move safely through their day and not have to carry around that anxiety.”

In a statement, the city explained its stance: “Gender-specific restrooms can be unwelcoming and potentially unsafe for many people… Shifting from gender-specific single-stall restrooms to gender-neutral ones is a simple and low-cost way to help ensure that facilities in the City of West Hollywood and welcoming and open to all people.”

LGBT activist Heidi Shink, who is expected to run for West Hollywood’s city council, told The Guardian that the new law serves as a public example of the community’s commitment to progressivism: “The importance of it is that we make our residents and visitors feel comfortable,” she said. “West Hollywood is a city of acceptance in ways that many cities aren’t across the country. We pride ourselves in it.”

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Category: Restrooms

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