City of San Diego's first gender-neutral bathroom unveiled

Bathroom is in University Heights library branch
Posted at 4:33 AM, Dec 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-01 20:09:20-05

SAN DIEGO - The city of San Diego Thursday unveiled its first gender-neutral restroom inside a public facility -- the University Heights branch library.

The restroom is the first step in the city's compliance with new state law, which requires that all single-user toilet facilities in businesses or public places be made gender-neutral by March 1.

The law, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September, also calls for local officials to inspect such facilities for code compliance.

"Now more than ever, I am proud that the city of San Diego continues to be a leader and a champion for equality and inclusion," said Councilman Todd Gloria, who represents the area.

"Today's designation of gender-neutral restrooms demonstrates our city's unwavering commitment to the basic rights, respect, and dignity of all people," Gloria said. "More importantly, from this day forward, all of our public single-user restroom facilities will be more safe and accessible for all people."

Marnie Richmond considers herself a bit old-fashioned, and she told 10News said she has mixed feelings about the new bathroom in the library on Howard Ave.

"Men usually don't put the seat down so I have to touch it and put it down if I want to sit," said the 71-year-old Richmond. "They're not as clean as they are if they're separated."

Lily Rubenstein, who identifies as transgender, said this step reduces the anxiety people like her feel stepping into gender-specific bathrooms.

"I had people tell me I was in the wrong restroom, that I shouldn't be there," said Rubenstein.

Richmond admitted that she does support this change. She said it may help those taking care of the elderly and even reduce the wait time for women restrooms.

"If you had one more bathroom, essentially, the line should be half as long," said Richmond.

She said her only hope is bathrooms will be clean no matter who uses it.

City officials installed signs designating the library restroom as available to both sexes at an event attended by Gloria, city Human Rights Commissioner Nicole Murray-Ramirez and Connor Maddocks, of the San Diego LGBT Community Center and transgender community activist Lily Rubenstein.