Big news from the Big Apple: Last week, New York City announced that all single-user restrooms must be gender-neutral, and that's just one of several protections for transgender people that are totally awesome, and very, very necessary. Go New York!
The New York City Commission on Human Rights recently issued a document that explains the ways in which Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration intends to enforce a 2002 law protecting transgender rights, and lays out new policies for the city. Among other things, all single-user public restrooms must be gender-neutral, and it is now illegal to prevent someone from using the restrooms of the gender by which they identify — and even more importantly, it is also illegal to deny someone access to a shelter if it is intended for the gender by which they identify, which is huge for trans people who are homeless or trans women experiencing domestic violence.
In addition, landlords, employers, city agencies, and police officers are now legally required to use a person's preferred pronouns when addressing them. And restaurants are no longer allowed to require men to wear ties. Change is everywhere, it seems!
The report explains,
The [New York Civil Rights Law] requires that individuals be permitted to use single-sex facilities, such as bathrooms or locker rooms, and participate in single-sex programs, consistent with their gender, regardless of their sex assigned at birth, anatomy, medical history, appearance, or the sex indicated on their identification.
And while they note that this does not require businesses to make all restrooms gender-neutral, or construct additional restrooms, all single-occupant restrooms should be marked in a way that indicates they are gender-neutral. Which is huge.
The fight for gender-neutral restrooms has been ongoing across the country for several years now, understandably so given the impact it can have on the daily lives of trans people. There were plenty of victories in 2015, from the White House creating its first gender-neutral restroom to the victory of trans girl Nicole Maines in her legal battle against her school district over the issue. However, there have also been setbacks, like the Kentucky law that requires students to use the restrooms and locker rooms of the gender they were assigned at birth.
Still, if you live in New York City, it seems that good things are happening for transgender rights under the de Blasio administration, and that is certainly something to celebrate.
You can find the entire report here.