On June 22, 2016, the New York City Council passed a bill mandating that all single-occupant bathrooms in the city become gender neutral! Single-stall bathrooms in NYC should no longer say “men” or “women.” Everyone is required by the end of the year to remove all signs labeling single-occupant bathrooms for single-gendered use. New signage must be in place by January 1, 2017. The wording of the new signs will be developed through a rulemaking process, so stay tuned for a later update.
Importantly, this law applies to all bars, restaurants, and businesses in New York City. Since many bathrooms in the city are single-use, this new law will help ensure that trans, gender non-conforming, and intersex (TGNCI) folks feel more welcomed to access the facilities that affirm their gender, and for non-binary people, this is also a reprieve.
A council spokeswoman said the measure would likely carry a penalty of up to $500 for violations.
“This is an easy way to create a welcoming environment for transgender or gender-nonconforming people,” said Councilperson Daniel Dromm, a Democrat from Queens and one of the sponsors of the legislation. Other notable sponsors of Bill 2016/079, include Councilperson Rosie Mendez, Councilperson Carlos Menchaca, and Councilperson Corey Johnson.
Bill 2016/079 was passed by a landslide, 47-2. Mayor de Blasio signed the bill on Tuesday, June 28th.
Under the new law, “single-occupant toilet rooms” are defined as restrooms with only one toilet or one urinal that can be locked from inside. The law does not apply to larger gendered bathrooms with multiple stalls, to the dismay of advocates, or to bathrooms that cannot be secured from the inside and bathrooms that are required to be sex-segregated under different laws, such as prisons and jails.
This step to make NYC more accessible and welcoming to TGNCI individuals follows decades of work by SRLP and other organizations and individuals such as Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson. This bill follows an executive order issued by Mayor de Blasio in March that required all city-owned buildings with single-gendered bathrooms to guarantee all individuals have access to the facility that they feel safest in. We wrote about this executive order here, along with the training that the City is required to institute. Following this order, the City, through the Commision on Human Rights, launched an ad campaign in early June, encouraging all individuals to use the restroom that is consistent with their gender identity. Check out the Twitter handle, #BeYouNYC!