December 5, 2019 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

State bill calls for all-gender bathrooms

BY SETH HEMMELGARN  |  A bill to designate all single-user restrooms in California businesses, government buildings, and public spaces as “all gender” is being proposed by Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco).

The bill is about “convenience, fairness, and frankly, safety,” Ting said at a news conference Friday, January 29, the day after he introduced Assembly Bill 1732.

The issue has become mainstream in recent months as people have expressed concern about transgender people facing harassment when they use public bathrooms that don’t match their perceived gender. The obsession over bathrooms helped doom a non-discrimination ordinance in Houston last November when opponents focused the debate on trans people using restrooms.

There’s a need to ensure “every community feels it has access,” Ting, a straight ally, said, adding, “Nobody should need to use the bathroom and not feel safe.”

He said he’s “proud to be part of a state that wants to take leadership and show the way rather than follow.”

Gay San Francisco Supervisor David Campos recently introduced a similar proposal locally, and such laws are also appearing in Oakland and other cities.

Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco), AB 1732’s principal co-author, said anti-LGBT policies, including those aimed at restricting which restrooms transgender and gender non-conforming people may use, “stem from a core of fear, hate, and ignorance.”

Chiu, a straight ally, referred to the state legislation as “common sense policy” that’s “overdue.”

The statewide LGBT advocacy group Equality California is one of the organizations backing the proposal.

EQCA Executive Director Rick Zbur said trans and gender-non-conforming people have been “intimidated, harassed, and threatened” when trying to use multi-stall restrooms, and the bill addresses “a civil rights issue that affects their ability to fully participate in our communities.”

Kris Hayashi is the executive director of the Transgender Law Center, which is also backing AB 1732.

In Ting’s news release, Hayashi said, “All Californians should have the same freedom to participate in public life, go about their day, and use the bathroom when they need it. By making single-user restrooms accessible to all genders, 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.”

At the news conference, Zbur said the bill would also be helpful to opposite-sex caretakers and others.

Ting said “bathrooms are something we use every day,” and as the father of two daughters, he’s been faced with the dilemma of trying to figure out which bathroom to use when he’s out with them.

“My favorite bathrooms are the ones that say ‘family bathroom,'” he said.

Other supporters of the legislation also spoke Friday.

Summer Lowen, of the National Organization for Women’s San Francisco chapter, said among other problems, women’s rooms are often farther away than men’s rooms.

“Segregated facilities are not meeting our needs,” Lowen said.

Samantha Higgins, policy and community manager of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, said Ting’s proposal also addresses hospitality concerns.

AB 1732 “honestly just makes sense,” Higgins said.

“Single-occupancy restroom access should not be an issue for anyone” who’s visiting a restaurant, bar, or other establishment.

Ting said he and other supporters are “very optimistic” about his bill becoming law, noting that it simply requires bathroom signage to be changed.

He said backers “debated on having penalties” for people who don’t comply with the law, but it’s “so frankly simplistic we didn’t feel the need to add penalties to the legislation at this point.”

Anti-LGBT activists recently tried to get a measure on the November 2016 state ballot that would have required people “to use restrooms based on their biological sex,” Ting’s office noted.

Under the proposal, which failed to gain enough signatures to make it to the ballot, transgender people could have been sued for $4,000 if they used a restroom that didn’t match their gender assigned at birth. The failed initiative wouldn’t have applied to single-user restrooms.

Brad Dacus is president of the Pacific Justice Institute, which submitted that proposal.

Asked in an interview whether his group would do anything to oppose Ting’s legislation, Dacus said, “I don’t know why we would.”

The bill “makes a lot of sense,” he said, noting that it’s not “forcing multi-person male or female restrooms to become unisex.”

Ting’s proposal is “sensitive to many transgendered people who would otherwise potentially feel uncomfortable or awkward in terms of the restroom they choose to use,” Dacus said.

His stance might be surprising coming from someone who was involved with such a vehemently anti-transgender proposal as the one his group failed to gain support for, but he said there’s “nothing wrong with laws accommodating and being sensitive to the different needs of individuals” as long as others’ privacy rights are respected.

However, an email one man recently sent to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors regarding Campos’ legislation shows there are still people who have trouble with such ideas.

“You continue to cater to those with money, deviant sexual appetites, and the mentally ill,” Joe Tobie Jr. said in a January 19 note to supervisors. “San Francisco is no longer a place for decent people. … I will not support lifestyle, policies, or practices that I know are simply wrong.”

Tobie didn’t respond to an emailed request for comment.

Campos’ legislation is expected to go before the supervisors’ budget committee soon.

Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), left, announces legislation creating all-gender public restrooms at a January 29 news conference with, Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco) Equality California’s Rick Zbur, California NOW’s Summer Lowen, and Samantha Higgins from the Golden Gate Restaurant Association. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland

in NEWS
Related Posts

California One of Top States in Equality CA’s Legislative Scorecard

December 5, 2019

December 5, 2019

California earned top marks in Equality California’s recently released annual state legislative scorecard for 2019 Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide...

Surviving a Hostile Family Holiday Dinner When You Identify as LGBTQ+

November 26, 2019

November 26, 2019

The upcoming holiday season evokes a wide range of emotional friction for the LGBTQ+ community. The Human Rights Campaign frequently...

Friendsgiving for LGBTQ+ Seniors at LA LGBT Center

November 25, 2019

November 25, 2019

The Los Angeles LGBT Center Senior Services is hosting a Thanksgiving Day event for its participants at its Triangle Square...

Big Queer Convo Takes on Tobacco Smoking Plight LGBTQ+ Community Faces

November 22, 2019

November 22, 2019

New findings from #Out4Mental Health Statewide Community Survey and UCLA’s LGBTQ Tobacco Study interviews show how factors including homophobia and...

22 Trans Lives Lost to Violence This Year

November 20, 2019

November 20, 2019

One this day 21 years ago, Gwendolyn Ann Smith founded Transgender Day of Remembrance to memorialize the vicious murder of...

TRANS HOMELESSNESS in LA: Social injustice, or gender identity bias?

November 20, 2019

November 20, 2019

A personal overview from a trans activist and MSW candidate from USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. By Christina...

LGBTQ Center of Long Beach to Honor Trans Day of Remembrance

November 19, 2019

November 19, 2019

So far in the United States this year, at least 22 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been violently killed,...

How Lou Sullivan Created His Own Future

November 18, 2019

November 18, 2019

Newly-released diaries of the trans icon give us something to think about this Transgender Day of Remembrance. When Gwendolyn Ann...

“Dems, Drinks and Drag Queens” Bring Rainbow Wave to Long Beach

November 15, 2019

November 15, 2019

Senator Kamala Harris and Mayor Robert Garcia will help kick off the California Democratic Party’s fall nominating convention at Hamburger...

JQ International’s Trans Brunch to Honor Trans Day of Awareness, Build Community

November 14, 2019

November 14, 2019

In part of recognition of Transgender Awareness Month, the City of West Hollywood is co-sponsoring the JQ International Trans Equality...

Documentary Honors Los Angeles’ LGBTQ+ Vets for Veterans Day

November 11, 2019

November 11, 2019

In honor of Veterans Day, some LGBT Senior Veterans at the Los Angeles LGBT Center shared their stories and experiences...

Fighting Ignorance, Poverty with Job Fair for Trans, Intersex Folks

November 7, 2019

November 7, 2019

“Thriving in Los Angeles as a person of trans, non-binary, or intersex experience is challenging,” Eden Anaï Luna, Manager of...

LA Pride’s Bid to Host 2025 World Pride

November 5, 2019

November 5, 2019

Today, Christopher Street West (CSW), the non-profit that produces LA Pride, announced an official bid to host WorldPride in Los...

Trump Administration Attacks LGBTQ People Yet Again with HHS Proposed Rule

November 4, 2019

November 4, 2019

To kick off Trans Awareness Month, the Trump Administration has outdone itself in trampling over LGBTQ+ folks’ rights. Today, the...

LGBTQ+ Senior Housing in Gay Paradise

October 19, 2019

October 19, 2019

More than 39 million people in the U.S. are age 65 years or older including 2.4 million people who identify...