Gender Neutral Bathroom Bill Signing at Fergie’s Pub a Major Crossroads
When a bill is signed into law, most ceremonies are invitation only and take place in government buildings. That’s why today’s signing of Philadelphia’s gender neutral bathroom bill is such an interesting twist. The ceremony is taking place at Fergie’s Pub, a location that isn’t necessarily the first to come to mind when thinking about the transgender community, despite it being located pretty much in the Gayborhood.
“It was important that something like this happen in a space that maybe would have never taken a step to have safe, accessible bathrooms for all genders,” said Nellie Fitzpatrick, the city’s Director of LGBT Affairs. “It’s a space that may not seem welcoming at all.”
That’s clearly not the case this afternoon, as members of the trans community, and their trans-identified colleagues, join Michael Nutter, Mark Squilla, Rue Landau, and Ms. Fitzpatrick at 2 p.m. to sign the bill that will require all privately-owned establishments to remove gender-specific designations from single-stall restrooms.
The bill was unanimously approved by city council in October, and businesses will have until January 20, 2016, to implement the signage changes. The bill only applies to single-stall bathrooms throughout the city, such as the ones currently employed at Starbucks locations.
Today’s bill ceremony at Fergie’s was a strategic choice, according to Fitzpatrick. Sure, lawmakers could have signed the bill at City Hall, or, say, a gay bar that changed signage, but the pub seemed to provide a much more meaningful environment.
“There are spaces that are going to have to change their signs,” she said. “Usually, we wouldn’t think of trans-identified people flocking to Fergie’s, and that’s the juxtaposition, that a pub like this is proud to host this event and change these signs.”
In addition to the government dignitaries, the ceremony will feature speaker Dawn Munro, along with individuals from the Divine Light shelter, who will have the opportunity to meet Mayor Nutter. Fitzpatrick hopes that the ceremony will provide a much-needed sense of fellowship for those in attendance, and that it will send a powerful message to Philadelphia.
“There’s hope,” she said. “It’s an extremely powerful moment in history to capture.”