For Immediate Release
July 10th, 2009
Contact: Rhodes Perry
DC Trans Coalition and Office of Human Rights Launch Bathroom Access and Safety Campaign
Groups Mobilizing Community to Ensure Enforcement of the Human Rights Act
Washington, DC – On Friday, July 3rd, the DC Trans Coalition (DCTC) along with the DC Office of Human Rights (OHR) launched the Bathroom Access and Safety Campaign, otherwise known as the Pee in Peace Campaign – a community mobilization project designed to ensure bathroom access and safety for all residents, including transgender, transsexual and gender non-conforming individuals, in the District.
Even with the District’s comprehensive Human Rights Act, which includes protections for gender identity or expression, trans and gender non-conforming people continue to experience verbal and physical harassment ranging from being attacked and thrown out to even being arrested for simply trying to use the bathroom in the District. In fact, according to a recent citywide survey for transgender and gender non-conforming people, 70 percent of respondents indicated that they had experienced problems accessing or using gender segregated bathrooms.
“Since its founding in 2005, the DCTC has organized community members to fight for the human rights of and equal access for trans and gender non-conforming people living in the District of Columbia. The Bathroom Access and Safety Campaign carries on this commitment, ensuring that the District’s laws are appropriately enforced, making certain that trans and gender non-conforming residents have equal access and appropriate safety when using restroom facilities along with other public accommodations,” said Sadie Baker, a member of the DCTC.
Regulations accompanying the Human Rights Act clarify that all residents have the right to use a bathroom consistent with their gender identity or expression, regardless of real or perceived assigned sex or gender expression. The regulations also specify that all single occupancy restrooms (i.e., any restroom intended for use by one person at a time) in any public or commercial space, like a restaurant, should use gender neutral signage only. For example, signs reading “Men” and “Women” must be replaced with signs that read “Restroom,” or another non-gendered label.
“Despite these regulations, many businesses all over DC are not in compliance with the law, which is why we created this campaign. We are developing a list of all non-compliant businesses throughout DC so that we can inform the Office of Human Rights. OHR Director Velasquez has agreed to help by sending all the businesses we identify a letter informing them of the Human Rights Act and what they need to do in order to be compliant. The businesses will then have 30 days to change their signs, at which point we will check back. It is our hope that all business will comply with OHR’s request. If they do not, we will report them to city officials who will initiate a discrimination complaint,” said Jody Herman, a member of the DCTC.
The DCTC and OHR have asked that community members help by identifying restaurants, cafes or any other public or commercial spaces that are not in compliance with the law. Residents should send the name of the business, the address and the date they noticed the establishment violating the law to DCTCBathrooms@gmail.com, or call (202) 557-1951. On Saturday, July 25th, the group will host a rally in support of bathroom safety and access at 2 pm in Adams Morgan (18th Street and Columbia). All concerned residents are urged to join in this effort to ensure appropriate enforcement of the law. For more information about the Bathroom Access and Safety Campaign, check out the DCTC website at www.dctranscoalition.org under the heading “Campaigns.”
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The DC Trans Coalition (DCTC) is a grassroots community-based organization dedicated to fighting for the human rights of and equal access for transgender and gender non-conforming people in the District of Columbia.
[UPDATE] The Office of Human Rights now has a web form for reporting establishments not complying with this law, or you can tweet the name and address of the establishment, and whether or not their bathrooms are in compliance (ideally with a photo) with the hashtag #safebathroomsDC. Please do NOT use the email address above!!!