March 17, 2016

Mayor de Blasio Mandates City Facilities Provide Bathroom Access to People Consistent with Gender Identity

Mayor’s Executive Order makes New York City a leader in protecting transgender and gender non-confirming individuals from discrimination
Executive Order protects the right of every New Yorker to use City single-sex facilities consistent with their gender identity
Mayor Bill de Blasio (Photo by Mariela Lombard)
NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio recently signed an Executive Order requiring City agencies to ensure that employees and members of the public are given access to City single-sex facilities consistent with their gender identity, without being required to show identification, medical documentation, or any other form of proof or verification of gender.
“Every New Yorker should feel safe and welcome in our city – and this starts with our City buildings. 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,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Mayor de Blasio said, “Today’s order makes it clear that New York City fully supports the right of every New Yorker to use the single-sex facility consistent with their gender identity. New York City is the birthplace of the fight for LGBT rights, and we continue to lead in that fight so every New Yorker can live with dignity.”
The Executive Order follows recent legal enforcement guidance issued by the NYC Commission on Human Rights, which clarifies that any employer, housing provider or public accommodation that denies access to bathroom or single sex facilities based on gender identity can be prosecuted for violating the NYC Human Rights Law. Gender identity has been a protected class under the Law since 2002, when it was added to the NYC Human Rights Law following an amendment sponsored by then Council Member Bill de Blasio.
The new Executive Order applies to City-owned buildings, including City agency offices, public parks, pools, playgrounds, certain museums and recreation centers. The Executive Order allows all individuals, including NYC’s approximately 25,000 transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, to freely use City single-sex facilities consistent with their gender identity.
In a nationwide survey conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, one in four respondents reported being denied equal treatment or service in government agencies or when interacting with City officials, in retail stores, and in doctor’s offices or hospitals. 22 percent reported being denied access to appropriate bathrooms at work, and 26 percent reported being denied access to bathrooms in an educational setting.
With the Mayor’s Executive Order, NYC will serve as a model to governments across the country.
The Executive Order requires City agencies to: 
  • Post the new single-sex facility policy in conspicuous locations for employees and members of the public to see within three months;
  • Train managers on the policy within one year and frontline staff within two years;
  • Update agency Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) plans to incorporate training requirements within three months, and
  • Report steps taken to comply with today’s Executive Order to the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) pursuant to EEO reporting requirements.

DCAS has developed a training to assist agencies in meeting the EEO reporting requirement. The Commission is also partnering with The LGBT Community Center to offer educational workshops to City agencies, advocacy organizations, and businesses about how to comply with the City Human Rights Law, best practices, and cultural competency to avoid indirect discrimination.
City agencies must comply with the Mayor’s order immediately, or seek an exemption of certain provisions of the Executive Order through a request to the Commission on Human Rights. In those cases, the Office of the Mayor and the Commission will work closely with City agencies to address compliance concerns.
“At this very moment, Americans are bombarded with communications that go against everything New Yorkers stand for – with speeches and commercials coded to incite fear and promote exclusion. That type of attitude doesn’t cut it here. New Yorkers know that to safeguard our individual rights, we must stand up for the rights of others – and we will,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “Every day, no matter where they go, transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers are burdened with worry, that when they need the certainty of privacy for personal needs, it won’t be there for them. Today, we take a step towards equity for those New Yorkers.”
“Today, New York City sets an example for cities across the nation,” said Counsel to the Mayor Maya Wiley. “All city residents must be able to use facilities, no matter their gender identity. By ensuring that a single bathroom can be used by anyone, we make our public spaces equally available to everyone and relieve the stress and exclusion of our transgender friends and neighbors, who would otherwise be forced to deny who they are in the most basic ways. While other cities consider laws that deny this basic human right, New York City stands with our transgender residents’ right to be who they are, free from discrimination. We hope that other cities follow New York City’s lead.”
Carmelyn P. Malalis (Photo by Mariela Lombard)
“Every person deserves the right to use the bathroom safely and free from discrimination,” said Commission on Human Rights Commissioner and Chair Carmelyn P. Malalis. “Denying them that right is unhealthy, inhumane and unacceptable. The NYC Commission on Human Rights applauds the Mayor’s Executive Order today, which should be the gold standard in gender identity protections across every city and state in the country. The Commission will continue to vigorously enforce gender identity and expression protections under the City Human Rights Law, which requires all employers, housing providers and public accommodations to allow individuals to use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity, and looks forward to working with the Mayor’s Office, City Council members, and advocates to further strengthen the rights of every New Yorker.”
“Every New Yorker deserves the right to use the bathroom in peace, regardless of their gender,” said Executive Director of the Commission on Gender Equity Azadeh Khalili. “For far too long, transgender and gender non-conforming communities have suffered discrimination and violence for being who they are. Today, however, New York City stands with these communities and sends a clear message that gender discrimination will not be tolerated. I look forward to working with the NYC Commission on Human Rights and other City agencies and advocates to ensure stronger protections for all vulnerable communities.”
“Access to safe bathroom facilities is critical for success in employment, health care and housing – all important priorities for our agency,” said Human Resources Administration Commissioner Steven Banks. “Mayor de Blasio’s Executive Order is a significant step in protecting the rights of transgender New Yorkers, and improving the resources for all City agencies to support this already vulnerable community.”
“Some in our society are still fighting for the most basic of human rights. The Mayor's Executive Order signifies that the transgender community will be treated with respect and dignity in our municipal facilities,” said Citywide Administrative Services Commissioner Lisette Camilo. “Additionally, through our Office of Citywide Diversity, we will ensure that New York City is leading by example through training for all of our employees.”
Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said, “This is an important step to ensure that we are creating a safe and supportive environment for transgender and gender non-conforming students and staff. The Mayor's policy supports the preferences that we have heard in our schools and we are working to ensure the facilities in our buildings are inclusive of all genders over the coming months.”
“All New Yorkers deserve to be recognized and respected for who they are,” said Children’s Services Commissioner Gladys Carrión. “At ACS, we are committed to promoting services and a workplace that is inclusive and free of discrimination. This Executive Order values the diversity of our great city and supports the health, safety and well-being of all New Yorkers.” 
“NYC Parks was an early leader in making our accommodations safe and accessible to people of all gender expressions. That’s why we are proud to stand with Mayor de Blasio as he announces this important step to block discrimination in public facilities,” said Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FACIP.
“NYC Health + Hospitals is a leader in LGBTQ care and the public health system is fully committed to the principles of equality embodied in the Mayor’s Executive Order,” said President and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals Dr. Ram Raju. “We will continue to provide quality and affordable care with a positive patient experience to all New Yorkers, regardless of their gender or immigration status.”
Trans-inclusive bathroom policies have encountered opposition in municipalities nationwide. Opponents often inaccurately link inclusive policies to hypothetical scenarios of men falsely presenting themselves as transgender females in order to attack women in bathrooms. Several states such as Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia, Oklahoma and Washington are considering or have introduced bills that target transgender and gender non-conforming people, some by imposing a fine for or criminalizing the act of a transgender person accessing public restrooms. However, law enforcement officials, government employees, and domestic violence experts in 12 states that have laws prohibiting gender identity discrimination in public accommodations have reported zero bathroom attacks. In fact, evidence suggests that transgender people themselves are more likely to be the victims of physical and sexual assaults. In the last month, Charlotte, North Carolina passed local legislation similar to Mayor de Blasio’s Executive Order, and Governor of South Dakota Republican Dennis Daugaard vetoed legislation that would have prevented public school students from accessing the bath room and locker rooms that correlate to their gender identity.
Denying bathroom access to individuals can lead to serious physical injury or illness, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. A 2013 survey by The Williams Institute found that the majority of transgender people surveyed reported adverse health effects from trying to avoid public restroom use, including dehydration, kidney infections, and urinary tract infections. Additionally, 58 percent of people reported that they have avoided going out in public due to a lack of safe public restroom facilities.
In December 2015, the Commission on Human Rights issued bold, new legal enforcement guidance making transparent what constitutes a violation of gender identity protections under the City Human Rights Law, including denying transgender and gender non-conforming individuals the right to use the bathroom. Other violations of gender identity protections under the Law include intentionally failing to use an individual’s preferred name or pronoun, failing to provide health care benefits that cover gender-affirming care or failing to provide reasonable accommodations for individuals undergoing gender transition, and enforcing dress codes, uniforms, and grooming standards that impose different requirements based on sex or gender.
If a member of the public believes they have been discriminated against on the basis of gender or gender identity at work, in housing, or in a public accommodation, they should call 311 and ask for the Commission on Human Rights where they can discuss their situation and set up a meeting with a Commission attorney. Individuals also have the opportunity to go to court and file a claim under the New York City Human Rights Law. For more information, please visit nyc.gov/humanrights.

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