Keri Renault

One Pissed Off District

Filed By Keri Renault | July 19, 2009 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Transgender & Intersex

Washington D.C.'s Human Rights Act includes protections for gender identity and expression - and the law is supposed to extend to public accommodations. But a not-so-funny thing is happening on the way to the restroom. Rampant discrimination remains in play.

Up to 70% of recently surveyed gender variant people living in the District of Columbia said they encounter problems with access to public accommodations. Many experience verbal and physical harassment. The alleged "protected class" of gender non-conformists has been attacked, tossed from places and spaces - and even been ARRESTED for attempting to simply do their duty in peace.

And we wonder why most states, including neighboring Maryland, have tremendous difficulty passing anti-discrimination law. "Public accommodation" protection is why.

And a simple bodily function becomes the de-facto poster child of the conservative movement's hate in order to block passage of anti-discrimination legislation.

Far right Fundies invariably spin anti-discrimination any way they like, which typically includes employment, housing and public accommodation protections - one of which is (get this...) known as the "Bathroom Bill."

Of course, this engenders public fear of crossdressing pedophiles and hard-core criminals invading "women's" restrooms. No such court cases have been found in states which propose anti-discrimination laws. Criminals continue to be prosecuted under the law. No matter. The wing nuts' distortions of the truth derails legitimate human rights arguments - and stops human rights, right at the bathroom door.

This brings us back to our nation's capital, the District of Columbia.

In an effort to take back District restrooms, the D.C. Trans-Coalition is combining forces with the Office of Human Rights to launch the Bathroom Access and Safety Campaign. This united effort is aimed at availing public restrooms to everyone, including the gender variant citizenry that is already protected under the law - but only in word.

The Bathroom Access and Safety Campaign, dubbed the Pee in Peace campaign is an effort to take back hard fought rights that have been flushed down the drain in so many foul words. The Human Rights Act clearly states that residents of D.C. have the right to use a bathroom consistent with their gender identity or expression. The Act also specifies that single occupant restrooms in public spaces must use gender-neutral signage. The word "Restroom" should be used instead of "Men" or "Women."

The mission of Pee in Peace is to seek out non-compliant businesses throughout Washington D.C. and inform the Office of Human Rights. Violators will be sent a letter giving them 30 days to conform to the law.

Residents of the District can help clean up piss poor enforcement of the Human Rights Act. Forward the name(s) of an offending business, along with address and date of offense to [email protected] or call 202-557-1951. The group is also hosting a rally in support of Bathroom Safety and Access at 2pm on July 25th in Adams Morgan (18th Street and Columbia).

It's insulting that only 12 states have anti-discrimination laws that include gender identity and expression, but it's both insult and injury - with salt tossed on the wound for good measure - when our nation's capital turns a blind eye to violations of these hard fought laws, in its own back yard.

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so i'm not trying to justify any discrimination here, but you should realize that, for a lot of people, "crossdressing pedophiles and hard-core criminals invading "women's" restrooms" isn't the real fear.

lots of folks believe transgendered persons are simply boys who want to dress as girls, nothing more and nothing less, and they don't want those folks taking their crazy lifestyle choice to the ladies' room where otherwise decent people might see them.

the real fear for these folks isn't crime in the baƱo, it's more of a fear of some sort of "priscilla, queen of the desert" episode--and i get how completely irrational all of this is, but it's no more irrational, i suppose, than the whole "crossdressing murderer" fear.