California Gov. Signs Law Mandating Gender-Neutral Bathroom Signs

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By Jillian Kay Melchior | 6:07 pm, September 30, 2016

All single-occupancy bathrooms in California are now officially gender-neutral, after the governor yesterday signed into law legislation aimed at accommodating transgender residents.

Practically, nothing is changing but the signs. By March 1, 2017, all businesses with a single-stall bathroom must now hang signage explicitly stating the restroom is gender-neutral. The new signs cost roughly $40.

Any health inspector, building official or other local official tasked with code enforcement will now be able to check the bathroom signage, verifying that it meets California’s new gender-neutral requirement.

Equality California, a nonprofit focused on LGBT issues, was one of the sponsors of the bill. It claimed that the new law “eliminates the fears and frustration that people experience in public restrooms on a daily basis.”

The legislation’s sponsor, Rep. Phil Ting, told Time that while some opposed the bill on religious grounds, he heard more complaints that “men don’t seem to be able to use the bathroom without making a mess.”

Since 2011, it has been unlawful in California to discriminate against transgender people, including in the bathrooms. The new legislation, Ting has said earlier, is aimed at establishing California as the most gender-inclusive state in the nation.

In passing the legislation, California becomes the first state to require gender-neutral bathroom signage, though Philadelphia, Austin, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, West Hollywood and Washington, D.C., have passed similar measures.