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California Bill Would Make All Single-Stall Restrooms Gender Neutral

California Bill Would Make All Single-Stall Restrooms Gender Neutral

California Assemblyman Phil Ting celebrates nationwide marriage equality
California Assemblyman Phil Ting celebrates nationwide marriage equality

A San Francisco Democrat has introduced legislation that would require all single-stall restrooms in the state to be available to people of all genders. 

If Assemblyman Phil Ting of San Francisco get his way, all single-stall restrooms in California public spaces, government buildings, and businesses will be explicitly open to all genders.

Ting, a Democrat who represents District 19, which encompasses the northwestern corner of the city South through Daly City, proposed Assembly Bill 1732 on Friday, noting that if passed, it would be the nation's "most progressive restroom access law."

"Restrooms are a necessity of life. Access to them influences our ability to participate in public life," Ting said in a statement announcing the bill's introduction. "Signs restricting single-use restroom access by gender create problems of convenience, fairness, and safety. They defy common sense, which is why many of us ignore them. 'All gender' signs will end these problems and ensure everyone's rights are protected."

Supporters contend the proposed legislation would make single-stall bathrooms more accessible to transgender people, families with children, the elderly, and disabled people.

"What we really want to do is have bathrooms be what they're supposed to be about, which is convenience, but also have them be about fairness and safety," Ting said.

"This law will make life easier for everyone and reduce the harassment regularly experienced by transgender people and others who don't match people's stereotypes of what it looks like to be a man or a woman," Kris Hayashi of the Transgender Law Center told the Associated Press.

As written, AB1732 would have no impact on multiple-stall restrooms, which would remain segregated by gender. Similar requirements for gender-neutral signage on single-stall restrooms are already in place in Denver, Washington, D.C., Boston, and Philadelphia. Comparable legislation was also introduced in Vermont and New York, though neither effort reached the legislative floor for a vote.

Ting's trans-affirming legislation comes on the heels of a failed effort to pass a ballot initiative that would have restricted Californians' restroom access to the gendered space matching one's "biological sex," an increasingly common strategy that seeks to force transgender people into spaces that do not match their gender identity.

In the wake of such efforts, trans man Michael Hughes helped launch a social media campaign addressing what trans people really do in the bathroom: #WeJustNeedtoPee highlights the impracticality of these proposed laws, which often rely on thoroughly debunked myths that attempt to equate transgender women with male sexual predators who seek to prey on women and children in restrooms. In reality, there has never been a verified report of a transgender person assaulting a cisgender (nontrans) person in the restroom -- in fact, trans people are much more likely to be the victims of harassment or assault in public spaces like restrooms and locker rooms than are their cisgender peers.

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