Creative Ways to Designate Single Stall Restrooms for All Genders

There are several states in the country, and several cities, which now require all single stall restrooms to be labeled as all gender restrooms. This is the case in NYC, Denver, Philadelphia, the state of California and a few other places. These new laws are designed to ensure that transgender and non-binary people feel comfortable using the restroom (and as a positive side effect, will also cut down waits for women who often have longer lines).

When I travel around to conferences trainings and other events, I love taking photos of the "all gender" restroom signs I encounter, as well as the signs that direct guests to use the restroom where they are most comfortable. Some companies, like Starbucks and Target, established these of their own volition, while others do so in response to changes in public policies. It’s really fun for me to see how different companies are approaching this. Here are some of the signs we've spotted recently.

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Which is your favorite? Have you made arrangements within your own company to create single stall all gender signs?

Why LGBTQ-Inclusive Corporate Policies Matter So Much

Mississippi has a new law which fully legalizes discrimination. Although this law is a bit redundant, since people who are LGBTQ already have zero protections in Mississippi, this "religious freedom" law is an example of the types of bills being written and laws being passed in other states as well. I’m sure you heard the controversy over North Carolina’s HB2 law requiring transgender guests to use the restroom based on the gender on their birth certificate. Although this law was repealed and replaced with a new, "improved" law HB12, the new law remains similarly discriminatory towards transgender people.

Folks who are transgender may or may not choose to transition. The process of transitioning from male to female or female to male is purely optional. It's also expensive, time consuming and there are many trans people who do not have the resources to medically transition. Some trans folks might identify as non-binary and have no intention of going on hormones or undergoing any other procedures for transition.

For these folks who are not planning to medically transition and legally update their gender marker, these discriminatory bills and laws may be particularly scary. Essentially, these laws require someone to use the restroom of the gender on their birth certificate, regardless of whether or not that is how they currently identify. With laws like this increasingly acceptable, it's important for companies to step up and provide protections for transgender employees and guests.

Does your company have an inclusive restroom policy? Has your company made arrangements to ensure that your transgender guests and associates can feel safe?

How Updated Forms Can Improve Your Customer Service

Policy changes that relate to updating forms in your business can be the most effective way to ensure that your transgender and non-binary guests are treated with respect.

For example, if your business is a spa, consider updating the registration form that a new guest completes. Request gender and provide an open-ended option like 'Other'. Ask for honorific/title, and consider using gender-neutral honorifics. Other companies like airlines and banks may also request a preferred name, in addition to the legal name on the account. 

When you give your guests the opportunity to self-identify, your workers can then refer to that information rather than making assumptions. Whether your company is a bank, airline, spa, fitness center or other facility, creating policies that allow your customers to self-identify is an important best practice. Not only does it send a signal to your customers that your company is paying attention to the diversity of its community, but it also represents a powerful step towards inclusion, especially given that 12% of Americans 18 -34 are identifying as transgender.

In our survey of transgender customers, one of the most consistent pieces of advice from them to businesses, was simply, "don’t assume." Virtually every trans person we spoke to would rather be asked clarifying questions in a respectful, pleasant way, rather than someone making an assumption about their gender identity or gender expression. Of course, those clarifying questions can be awkward when asked verbally, especially to a novice associate. When your company puts those questions in a form, it creates a win-win for everybody. Your customer feel seen and your employees can feel confident in their customer service.

Another Reason Respect Towards Transgender Clients is Important

In the state of California, someone can now be fined or imprisoned for willfully and repeatedly misusing someone’s pronoun. Currently this law is limited to those who work in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, but I suspect that this law will be expanded into other institutions and we will see similar laws in other states. The current version of this law known as the LGBT Senior Bill of Rights also requires that nursing homes in care facilities let residents use the restroom of their actual gender identity.

This law is similar to an update to the 1945 Human Rights Law in New York City. This update allows people to be fined up to $250,000 for willful and malicious misuse of gender pronouns. That new NYC law may be used to fine employers, landlords and service providers who deliberately address individuals by the wrong name or pronouns. 

Let's be clear that these laws are not enforceable for accidental misgendering. It happens. However, when there are consistent, repetitive, deliberate acts of misgendering, it's clear that the person's intentions are malicious. 

Regardless of a worker's religious affiliation or belief in the legitimacy of the transgender community, it’s critical for all workers to use the correct pronouns and gender identity of the people they are serving. I know this may seem complicated concepts for some workers to understand at first, however Equality Institute can help through our on-demand eLearning, FLEX,  designed to help workers understand these concepts in a fast, practical way. Contact us today for a demo of FLEX.

Transgender Workplace Training Mandated in California

Update: this went into effect January 1, 2018

In California, a bill awaiting the governor's signature is designed to help reduce the 15% transgender unemployment rate (three times the national average). The bill would require employers with 50 or more employees to:

  • Modify mandatory sexual harassment training curricula for supervisors to include discussion of gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation protections.
  • Post transgender worker’s rights.
  • Enroll transgender workers in job training programs.

Currently, in the state of California, unlike in 27 other states, it's illegal to discriminate against someone transgender in hiring practices.

This new bill is in addition to a new law in California which requires all public single stall restrooms to be marked as "all gender."

Equality Institute is prepared to deliver the training that will be required by California should this bill become law. Our live and e-learning options will make it convenient for your team to be brought up to speed on the changing workplace landscape. Is your team ready?