The Seattle City Council unanimously passed legislation expanding all-gender restroom access across the City on Monday. The ordinance will require city-controlled and privately operated placed of public accommodation (e.g., coffee shops, restaurants, shops, etc.) to designate existing and future single-stall restrooms as all-gender, allowing people of any gender to use them. It further clarifies existing law allowing individuals to access the restroom that matches their gender identity/expression.
“No one should live in fear when they use basic accommodations most of us take for granted,” said Mayor Murray, “That’s why we sent this legislation to the Seattle City Council. I applaud the Council for taking this important step to provide respect and safety for members of the transgender community.”
The policy was recommended by both the Seattle LGBT Commission and the Mayor’s LGBT Task Force report released in July. Seattle is the third city to enact this policy, after West Hollywood, California and Washington DC.
Restroom access has been a key fight for the queer and transgender movement, as gender-segregated restrooms are often sites of intimidation, harassment, and violence, leading many to avoid public facilities altogether. As many as 53% of transgender and gender non-conforming people report experiencing verbal harassment in public accommodations, with 8% reporting being physically assaulted.
There has been considerable progress in recent months, with The White House introducing its first all-gender restroom in May. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) quickly followed, releasing new guidelines in June that transgender workers should have access to the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity/expression. Local advocacy organization Gender Justice League has worked with Pike Place Market to update their restroom signage as well.