New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) ordered all city facilities Monday to ensure that employees and members of the public have access to bathroom facilities consistent with their gender identity.
“Every New Yorker should feel safe and welcome in our city -- and this starts with our City buildings," de Blasio said in a statement Monday. "Access to bathrooms and other single-sex facilities is a fundamental human right that should not be restricted or denied to anyone. New York City is proud to enforce one of the strongest human rights laws in the country, which protects the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals to live freely and with respect."
The move is a victory for the transgender community, which has been battling efforts nationwide to restrict their right to use the restroom corresponding with their gender identity, rather than the gender assigned to them at birth.
A transgender discrimination study by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force found that 22 percent of respondents said they have been denied equal treatment by a government agency or official. Many people also said they had been denied access to the appropriate public facility.
De Blasio's executive order applies to city-owned buildings, as well as public parks, pools, playgrounds, certain museums and recreation centers. City agencies will have to post the new policy in conspicuous locations within three months and train employees on how to comply.
"No one should have to face fear, intimidation, or harassment when simply trying to use the bathroom," said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of the LGBT equality group GLAAD. "New York City is once again leading by example, making sure that every person can go to the restroom with dignity and peace. GLAAD applauds Mayor de Blasio's ongoing commitment to protecting LGBT New Yorkers, which is raising the bar for inclusion in cities across the nation."
The LGBT community recently had another victory on this front, when South Dakota's Republican governor vetoed a bill that would have outlawed transgender students from using public school restrooms and locker rooms corresponding with their gender identity.