CityViews: Gender-Neutral Bathroom, Menstrual Equity Bills Help NYers Live with Dignity

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New York City has taken major steps in enacting important legislation that will create opportunity and dignity for all New Yorkers, making New York City an even greater place.

One of those bills will require all New York City single-stall bathrooms to become gender-neutral and no longer carry “male” or “female” designations.

The other package of bills will supply free tampons and pads to students, incarcerated individuals, domestic violence survivors, and those living in shelters.

At Planned Parenthood of New York City, we work with all New Yorkers because our doors are open to everyone, regardless of who they are and what they are able to pay. The impact of these bills can’t be understated—we understand that they will lessen the burdens on New Yorkers that often lead to adverse health risks and the diminishment of quality of life.

Nobody should face the threat of harassment for something as basic as needing to use a restroom. Seventy percent of transgender and gender non-conforming people have experienced being denied access to restrooms, or have been harassed or physically assaulted while using restrooms. These are the kinds of things that make it significantly harder for a person to lead a safe and healthy life.

By making single-occupant bathrooms gender neutral, this common-sense bill will ensure the safety and dignity of transgender and gender-nonconforming New Yorkers. PPNYC supports and stands with the LGBTQ community and applauds Mayor Bill de Blasio, Council Member Daniel Dromm and the entire New York City Council for their leadership in advancing gender equity. As anti-trans legislation is implemented in states like North Carolina and around the country, we are proud to stand behind a bill in our city that supports LGBTQ rights.

Equally important is a bill package that will supply sanitary products to thousands of New Yorkers. As Councilmember Julissa Ferreras-Copeland has said, tampons and pads are as essential as toilet paper, and their cost should never be financially burdensome.

Last month, PPNYC celebrated when New York State passed legislation to eliminate the state sales tax on menstrual products.

Still, there was work to be done. Tampons and pads can cost more than $70 a year, and they aren’t covered by food stamps. People who are unable to afford menstrual products are more prone to reproductive infection, and are unable to live with dignity.

Now, menstrual products will be stocked in school bathrooms, and provided in jails and shelters for free. This is a huge victory for menstrual equity, and will help ensure the development of positive body image and the achievement of goals and dreams, especially for young people.

These bills are an important step toward becoming a more welcoming city for all, and we hope that they will set a precedent for similar legislation around the country. We are looking forward to seeing them go into effect as soon as the end of this year.

At PPNYC, we welcome everyone because we believe a healthy city is a better city. We are proud that our City Council members are dedicated to making our city a place where all New Yorkers can lead healthier and happier lives with dignity and respect.

Today, as the mayor signs both the gender-neutral bathroom bill and the menstrual equity bills, we are showing our support at City Hall. History is being made in New York City, and we celebrate with the LGBTQ community and all New Yorkers for the passage of this landmark legislation.

Joan Malin is President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of New York City (

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