For most of us, the biggest concern about needing to use a bathroom when we’re out in public is where to find it. Imagine if you also had to worry about being harassed when you finally found the bathroom, or that you would be prohibited from using it altogether. For the transgender community, this situation is actually quite common. According to Emilia Dunham, Project Manager for The Fenway Institute of the Life Skills Project, “a 2011 national survey data suggest the majority (70 percent) of U.S. transgender people sampled experienced verbal harassment, assault, or were denied access to public restrooms.”
Recognizing the struggles faced by the transgender community in accessing public bathrooms, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh signed an executive order on June 11, 2015, “immediately establishing gender-neutral restrooms on the fifth floor of Boston City Hall, outside of the Mayor’s Office and City Council Chamber.” The Mayor believes that “this change will help foster a safe and welcoming environment for employees and visitors” to City Hall who may not be comfortable when accessing gender-specific bathrooms. Gender neutral bathrooms will also benefit members of the disabled community or elderly who have personal attendants of a different gender, as well as parents or guardians with children of a different gender.