As the debate intensifies nationally over which bathrooms transgender people should use, the District of Columbia’s city government is asking people to report private businesses that have single-occupancy bathrooms that aren’t “gender-neutral.”
“If you see a public bathroom with one stall that is not gender-neutral, just tweet us the business name and location using #safebathroomsDC, or fill out our five question form,” states the website of the District of Columbia. “It takes just 20 seconds to play a part in making DC a more enjoyable place for transgender and other communities!”
A 2006 D.C. law requires businesses and other places with single-occupancy public restrooms to change signs that say “men” and “women” to just “restroom.”
The website includes a button with an image of toilet paper that says “report a bathroom.”
“Public bathrooms are never enjoyable, but for transgender people and many others, using a public bathroom can be a highly stressful and even dangerous experience,” the city’s website says. “In the District of Columbia, we are attempting to reduce that stress by making every single-stall public bathroom in the District gender-neutral. It’s the law, but currently many businesses are unaware of the requirement, and we need your help to let them know.”
Some businesses, including those that say they were unaware of the law, are being fined for an “unlawful discriminatory act.”
“I’m thinking, ‘What did we do?'” Madam’s Organ bar owner Bill Duggan said. “And finally it downloads and I found out that our big crime is that we label our men and ladies rooms.”
“Two of those bathrooms have urinals only,” Duggan added. “They are labeled men’s room. I guess we are going to see some interesting gymnastics to use them.”
D.C.’s Office of Human Rights director Monica Palacio argued the law is needed because they have had “many reports from the transgender community that they were harassed, intimidated and subjected to violence because they might have been seen waiting outside of the bathroom that said male or female and someone may have thought that they shouldn’t be using that bathroom.”
On Thursday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump expressed his opposition to a North Carolina law requiring transgender people to use government-owned bathrooms according to their gender at birth. He argued laws aren’t needed because it isn’t a big issue.
“Leave it the way it is,” Trump said on NBC’s “Today” show.
“There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go. They use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate,” Trump said.