Traverse City To Create More Gender-Neutral Public Restrooms

Jun 20, 2017

City in Michigan works to give all genders bathroom access. 

City-owned bathrooms in a popular northern Michigan tourist destination are one step closer to becoming accessible for all genders. Traverse City commissioners unanimously adopted a resolution Monday to support creating more accessible gender-neutral bathrooms on city property. The resolution also encourages businesses that provide public bathrooms to offer at least one gender-neutral option, the Record-Eagle reported. Mayor Jim Carruthers said the resolution mostly applies to individual bathrooms and not those with multiple stalls. "We're talking about single-stall occupancy, lockable bathrooms," he said. The proposal was recommended by the city's Human Rights Commission. Commissioners said a public meeting in March prompted residents' "personal stories of discrimination, embarrassment, humiliation and physical ailments from lack of available gender-neutral, private and safe restrooms and changing areas." Human Rights Commission Chairman Taylor Nash said transgender people face the possibility they'll be harassed, outright barred or even assaulted when they use a public restroom. "Our public space should feel safe for everyone, regardless of how they look, speak or pray, regardless of whether or not someone presents as the gender they were born with," he said. During public comment about the proposals last week, many were critical about whether the change would put other bathroom users' safety at risk. Some residents feared allowing transgender people to use the bathroom they want could allow pedophiles to prey on children. Nash pointed out that many organizations that advocate against sexual assault and violence are supportive of allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice. Commissioner Amy Shamroe also urged parents to seek out information from places like the Child Advocacy Center to learn more about pedophiles' actual methods so parents can protect their children, rather than assume the bathroom change would result in an increase in assaults. "We all share this Earth together, so I hope cooler and wiser minds come together and realize we're about supporting all humans, not just the ones we choose or want to support," Carruthers said.