New York City is set to become the latest major city to sign into law a bill that would allow transgender individuals to use the bathroom or locker room that corresponds to their gender identity, rather than their biological sex at birth, in all city-owned facilities, the Associated Press is reporting.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the executive order Monday.
“Access to bathrooms and other single-sex facilities is a fundamental human right that should not be restricted or denied to any individual. Every New Yorker should feel safe in our city — and this starts with our city’s buildings.”
The Big Apple already has laws on the books guaranteeing transgender individuals access to the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity in privately-owned businesses and is one of several cities and states to do so. The new regulations, expected to be signed into law today, apply to city-owned facilities such as city offices, pools, parks, and recreation centers.
The new rules do not, however, apply to New York City’s public schools. An earlier law is already in effect prohibiting schools from forcing transgender students to use the bathroom or locker room that corresponds to their biological sex at birth.
Meanwhile, another law working its way through New York’s city council would require publicly available, single-occupancy restrooms designated as “gender-neutral” in all public and private buildings in the city. That bill has not yet been signed into law, and it is unclear, as of this writing, if it will be.
Some 25,000 transgender or “nonconforming” individuals are believed to live in New York City.
Most of the nation’s largest cities, New York included, are struggling with guaranteeing transgender individuals access to the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity. In other cities, enacting such laws hasn’t always gone well.
In Houston, for example, the city was set to establish wide-ranging anti-discrimination rules that would have, among other things, prevented discrimination against LGBTQ individuals in housing and employment, as well as which bathroom transgender individuals used. As the Texas Tribune reported last fall, opponents of the measure focused almost specifically on the bathroom aspect of the bill, telling voters that the bill would allow sexual predators into bathrooms. One TV commercial even showed a creepy older man following a little girl into a bathroom.
The bill was soundly defeated by Houston voters.
Meanwhile, in Charlotte, North Carolina, efforts to protect LGBTQ individuals from discrimination in housing, employment, and – once again – bathrooms. Almost immediately, according to ABC News, North Carolina’s conservative state legislature vowed to overturn Charlotte’s ordinance at the state level — again, zeroing in on the bathroom issue. Republican Governor Pat McCrory said that allowing a person with male parts into a women’s restroom was something that he would not stand for.
“Also, this action of allowing a person with male anatomy, for example, to use a female restroom or locker room will most likely cause immediate state legislative intervention which I would support as governor.”
— On Top Magazine (@OnTopMag) February 26, 2016
The LGBTQ community, meanwhile, insists that allowing transgender individuals the right to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity is the moral thing to do. Fears that doing so would lead to perverts and sexual predators in bathrooms are unfounded, according to The Lambda Legal Foundation.
“There is no evidence that gender-segregated bathrooms are ‘safer’ for cisgender women than unisex bathrooms. And besides, there are laws protecting people from criminal conduct in public restrooms. If anything, a concern for safety weighs in favor of bathroom accessibility.”
Do you believe that New York is right to guarantee transgender individuals the right to use the bathroom of their choosing? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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