The following comes from a Jan. 14 story on TakePart.com
Starting this week, businesses in West Hollywood, California, have 60 days to get rid of the men’s and women’s signs on the doors of single-occupancy bathrooms and make those places gender-neutral.
Bathroom rules are changing thanks to a law passed last year by the city council of West Hollywood, an independent municipality in the city of Los Angeles that has a population of about 34,000 and is a hub for gay life.
Why is it a big deal to have gender-neutral—meaning neither male nor female—bathrooms? Many transgender people say that they frequently experience difficulty or downright harassment when they try to use public restrooms. A study of trans people in Washington, D.C., found that nearly 70 percent had been verbally harassed when using a public bathroom. Of the people surveyed, 18 percent had been denied restroom access, and almost 10 percent were victims of physical violence—meaning they were forcibly removed, hit, kicked, or cornered—in public bathrooms.
Transgender people have also been reported to the police for using the bathrooms that correspond to their gender identities. In Houston, Tyjanae Moore was arrested for using the women’s restroom in a library, even though the city’s nondiscrimination policy specified that trans people can use the bathrooms that match their gender identities. An Idaho transgender woman named Ally Robledo was charged with trespassing after using the women’s room in a grocery store. Robledo pointed out that because she identifies and lives as a woman, she doesn’t feel safe using the men’s bathroom.
“When I did use the male’s [restroom], there would be people that would harass me in school. I would feel really embarrassed, and there were times when I found myself in a lot of dangerous situations…. I’m a female trapped in a man’s body; it’s natural for me to go to the ladies’ room,” Robledo said.
While the law won’t affect restrooms that have more than one stall, it will give transgender people more options and ensure that trans people don’t get hassled for going into single-stall bathrooms.
Some members of the transgender community in West Hollywood have praised the new rules. “Thank you for discussing gender-neutral restrooms here in the city of West Hollywood and for giving that protection to transgender people,” West Hollywood Transgender Advisory Board member Drian Juarez said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “I believe that the city of West Hollywood truly is a jewel within the LGBT community….”