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Etsy Crafts Gender-Neutral Bathrooms for Its HQ, Challenges N.Y. Law

Etsy Crafts Gender-Neutral Bathrooms for Its HQ, Challenges N.Y. Law


The virtual mall for small retailers encourages employees and visitors to its Brooklyn headquaters to use the restroom of their choice. 


The online marketplace for all kinds of crafts, Etsy, has transformed the bathrooms at its headquarters in New York City to gender-neutral and taken creative license with the signs that previously said "men" and "women." The company suggests people use whichever bathroom they prefer, challenging state law requiring gender labeling of restrooms, according to one employee.

Sara Bee, an engineer for the online marketplace, tweeted a photo last week that showed a sign posted on one of the company's restrooms at its Brooklyn offices. "While the law requires gender binary signs on the doors, we believe that gender is not binary," the sign reads. "Please use the restroom that feels most comfortable to you."

Bee tweeted that she was "Super proud of Etsy today for making our bathrooms as gender-neutral as state law allows."

As Tech Insider first reported, New York State mandates that all restrooms be designated by gender. And in New York City, all public restrooms in buildings of a certain size must be designated likewise, according to New York City Plumbing Code. While it is not illegal for a person to use whichever restroom they prefer, transgender people may face challenges that go beyond staring or questions in the bathroom. In September a transgender boy was prevented from using the bathroom of his choice by a judge who ruled that he could not use a bathroom with his male peers.

A 2011 survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force found that 26 percent of transgender students had been denied access to the appropriate restroom in educational settings, and 22 percent of transgender employees reported being denied such access at work.

Allowing for more inclusive signage and accommodation in New York would only be a step in the right directon, according to New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer. He's suggested New York City Council legislation that would require existing single-occupancy public restrooms to be gender-neutral in both public and private buildings and change city codes so that building owners could designate gender-neutral bathrooms.

A law signed by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter in November goes into effect next month, ensuring that all single-occupancy restrooms will be gender-neutral, benefiting transgender people, folks with children. and anyone who just hates waiting on the restroom line.

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