Government officials in Washington, D.C., have sent out an alert to residents via a website posting that requests the names and locations of any public bathroom in the city that’s not open to both genders.
“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,” a statement on the District of Columbia’s website read, the Western Journalism Center reported. “It takes just 20 second to play a part in making D.C. a more enjoyable place for transgender and other communities!”
The website statement goes on: “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.”
In 2006, the city approved a law that mandated all businesses and public entities to change signs on single occupancy bathrooms from “men” and “women,” to the gender-neutral “restroom.” Businesses found in violation of that law can be fined for “unlawful discriminatory act[s],” the Western Journalism Center reported.
Madam’s Organ bar was just cited for breaking that law, the news outlet said.
“I’m thinking, ‘What did we do?’ And finally [I find out] that our big crime is that we label our men and ladies’ rooms,” said Bill Duggan, the owner of the bar. “Two of those bathrooms have urinals only. They are labeled men’s room. I guess we are going to see some interesting gymnastics to use them.”
The Western Journalism Center reported the government of D.C. said the rules are necessary in order to protect members of the transgender community from harassment.
The Office of Human Rights put out a statement from director Monica Palacio that said the city’s received “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.”