Imagine Alicia Keys’ and Jay Z’s ode to the metropolis is playing as you read the following. The New York City Commission on Human Rights has launched the first city government-led initiative promoting transgender bathroom rights, the Be You campaign. Subway cars, phone booths and bus shelters now feature ads endorsing residents’ right to use the restroom that is “consistent with who you are.”
Last month, the Obama administration ordered all public schools to allow transgender students to use the restroom of their preference, regardless of what sex they were assigned at birth. The decision came in the wake of a suit against the school district of Palatine, Illinois by a transgender high school athlete who believed she should be able to use the girls’ locker room — that which aligned with her gender identity. The federal Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights agreed. “Student A” (she understandably kept her identity a secret in court documents) is truly the transgender Ruby Bridges of our time.
Needless to say, conservative backlash against the Obama ruling was swift and strong, with 11 states suing the administration and some even calling for the President’s impeachment. All over the nation, sides were chosen.
The Be You campaign is New York’s way of affirming its allegiance with transgender rights. The ads, which implore viewers to “look past the pink and blue,” feature transgender New Yorkers and appear in both English and Spanish, the multilingual city’s most frequently spoken languages.
“Safe and equal bathrooms access is essential for everyone,” said Human Rights Commissioner and Chair Carmelyn P. Malalis in a press release. “And in New York City, it’s the law. 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. Far too often, transgender people suffer bullying, harassment and violence for being who they are. These ads show that transgender people, like everyone else, have the right to use the restroom in peace.”
The NYCCHR also released a “Myth vs. Fact” infographic on gender identity and expression to educate naysayers who feel that such measures may create an unsafe environment. In reality, it’s more likely violent situations will arise when transgender individuals use bathrooms that correspond to their biologically assigned sex.
Let’s hear it for New York.
[ via the Cut ]