New York City is rising up against other cities across the country and showing that it is standing by the rights of all its residents — no questions asked.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city’s Commission on Human Rights launched on Monday the country’s first government-led citywide ad campaign voicing support for the right of everyone to use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity.
The campaign — which kicks off LGBTQ Pride Month —features transgender New Yorkers including Bronx resident Alisha King; and Charlie Solidum, a Brooklyn resident and health care professional.
According to King, who is a full-time mom to 3-year-old Liam, she decided to be part of the campaign because she said she felt bad for the men and women dealing with discrimination when it comes to using the bathroom and she wanted to let them know that they were not alone.
“I personally wanted to let them now that they are not alone in the fight, we are all over the world fighting,” King said.
She added that she thought it was “beautiful” for the city of New York to tell members of the transgender community that it has their backs.
And when asked if she had any advice or comment for the cities that are currently discriminating against transgender people, King said: “We all just want to pee. We’re not looking at you, so why are you looking at us.”
The launch of the citywide campaign comes when other cities and states are continuing to deny transgender and gender non-conforming people the right to use bathroom consistent with their gender identity. Currently, 11 states are suing the U.S. Department of Justice after a letter from the Obama administration directed schools to allow transgender students equal access to bathrooms and locker rooms.
“No one deserves to be denied access to bathrooms or discriminated against for being who they are. Every New Yorker has the legal right to use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity, no questions asked — and these powerful ads affirm this right,” de Blasio said. “While other cities and states are legislating intolerance and taking away individuals’ right to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity, we are proudly standing with our transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers.”
The ads and videos – appearing in subways, bus shelters, phone booths, local newspapers and across social media -- are a result of audience research with transgender and cisgender New Yorkers and were created using input from the transgender community and legal advocates.
The ads call for New Yorkers to “use the restroom consistent with who you are” and ask all to “look past pink and blue.”
According to the city, studies show that transgender and gender nonconforming individuals regularly deal with gender identity discrimination in the workplace, school and in public accommodations.
In a survey conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 63 percent of individuals said they experienced a serious act of discrimination, including bullying, and physical or sexual assault.
Last year, the city’s Commission on Human Rights issued legal enforcement guidance detailing specific gender identity protections under the City Human Rights Law – which included equal bathroom access. Earlier this year, the mayor also issued an executive order requiring city agencies to make sure employees and the public are give equal access to city single-sex facilities without having to show any form of proof or verification of gender.
“We created these ads to remind every New Yorker, cis- and transgender alike, that the City protects your right to live and work according to your gender identity and expression, including your right to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity,” said Carmelyn P. Malalis, NYC Human Rights Commissioner and Chair. “These ads show that transgender people, like everyone else, have the right to use the restroom in peace.”
Later this month, the city’s Commission on Human Rights will release two digital videos, which will also feature transgender New Yorkers.
“New York has long been a proud leader in protecting our citizens’ rights, and we’re thrilled to see the city stepping up to ensure that every person has the freedom to use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity,” said Glennda Testone, executive director of The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center.
If someone believes they have been discriminated against on the basis of gender or gender identity at work, in housing, or in public accommodations, they should call 311 and ask for the Commission on Human Rights.