Philly City Council Committee Approves Gender Neutral Bathroom Bill
Mandatory gender neutral single-stall public restrooms in Philadelphia are one step closer to becoming reality after a City Council committee approved the measure.
“We can all agree that using public bathrooms rarely brings about enjoyable or fond memories for anyone,” said Director of LGBT Affairs for the City of Philadelphia, Nellie Fitzpatrick, during Tuesday’s committee meeting. “However, for transgender people and many others, using a public bathroom can be a highly stressful and even dangerous experience. This bill is an excellent way to help provide more safely accessible restrooms and eliminate the stress of some in doing what each of us do every day, simply use a bathroom.”
“Transgender and gender non-conforming people often face stress, anxiety and mistreatment when accessing the gendered bathroom that is appropriate for them,” she added. “Providing access to a private, non-gendered space can reduce or even eliminate this burden.”
Ms. Fitzpatrick then shared the story of Chrissy Polis, a 22 year-old transgender woman from Maryland who was brutally beaten in a McDonald’s restroom while onlookers laughed and videotaped the incident.
“The most important thing this bill will do [is] it will assist in eliminating members of the public – store owners, employees, customers and so on – from policing the gender of others,” said Fitzpatrick. “This bill provides a space that is labeled for its purpose – a bathroom – and not a gender controlled space that allows others to question, harass or harm those seeking to use it.”
In addition to “policing gender,” there are other reasons why the bill would be a practical solution for residents and visitors to Philadelphia, according to Fitzpatrick’s testimony: It would provide a safe haven for those with disabilities who may need assistance using the restroom, and it would also benefit parents with young children who need help while using the bathroom.