The Minneapolis City Council unanimously passed a resolution and an ordinance change on Friday allowing businesses to have gender neutral, single-use restroom facilities. The issue was raised by the Minneapolis Transgender Issues Work Group.
At issue on Friday was an antiquated ordinance that forced businesses to label restrooms as either male or female. The council voted to strike that part of the city code on Friday, and Mayor Betsy Hodges signed the changes into law.
Ward 12 council member Andrew Johnson offered the ordinance change.
“We’ve had business in my ward and I know in my colleagues’ wards that want to provide gender neutral bathrooms but have actually had this ordinance enforced on them and haven’t been able to do so,” Johnson told the council. “This is a good change that is good for our small businesses, for people who have needlessly waited to use the restroom, and most importantly, it’s good for our transgender residents who have faced harassment, gender policing, even threats when doing something as everyday as trying use the public restroom.”
Ward 8 council member Elizabeth Glidden noted that Friday’s ordinance change is just one of many ways the city is working to become a safer more welcoming city for transgender visitors and residents.
“This is an issue that as a full community we need to take on and understand how we are welcoming to all members of our community. I really want to thank people for joining us today and to also note that this is really one piece of a series of initiatives from the city that are part of what we have been calling our Transgender Issues Work Group,” Glidden said. “The City of Minneapolis has made a formal commitment that we are working on issues of how we serve the transgender community, how we can understand better, how we can improve our services how we improve our communications and we can improve our relationship with the transgender community. This is very important to us at the city.”
Ward 2 council member Cam Gordon said the city needs to continue to look at changing practices. “It struck me that while we’re taking away kind of an antiquated ordinance and a requirement we are placing on our businesses, maybe we also have to look at our own practices. I started thinking about the libraries, the parks, city hall, and realizing that we really don’t have the kind of single use bathroom accommodations that are going to be needed to meet the needs of all the people in our city.”
The council unanimously passed the ordinance change, and later in the meeting, passed a resolution encouraging businesses in the city to provide gender neutral restrooms.
Those actions were spurred on by the creation of the City of Minneapolis’ Transgender Issues Work Group which was established in March 2014. It’s goal is to “examine issues, engage the broader community, and make policy recommendations for City government that will affect the lives of Transgender residents of Minneapolis.”
The Work Group is holding the city’s first ever Minneapolis Transgender Equity Summit to be held on Sept. 25 at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute starting at noon. Nationally recognized speaker Anjelica Ross, co-founder of the “Trans 100” annual recognition celebration, will speak. The summit will focus on police relations, employment, health, civic participation, and public spaces.