#SafeBathroomsDC aims to ease discomfort for transgender community

- A new social media campaign aimed at making sure DC businesses are complying with bathroom neutrality legislation is making the rounds in Washington.

It all began in 2014 with the hashtag #SafeBathroomsDC and a goal of making transgender persons feel more comfortable using bathrooms across the city. District law states that every single-stall public bathroom must be gender-neutral, but many businesses are still unaware of the requirements and unknowingly put transgender persons in uncomfortable, and sometimes unsafe, situations when they attempt to use the restroom.

The #SafeBathroomsDC initiative aims to put an end to that discomfort by encouraging the public to alert the government to incompliant establishments. The DC Office of Human Rights encourages anyone who uses a restroom that appears to lack a gender-neutral stall to tweet them the business name and location using the hashtag #SafeBathroomsDC and fill out a five-question form with additional information.

Following the complaint, the DC Office of Human Rights sends the business an official warning letter and request that they comply with the legislation immediately. Officials say in most cases the issue is resolved quickly. 

“We send them a letter in the mail and say hey within 30 days please change your signage and send us a picture of it and we'll close the case,” said Elliot Imse, who works for the DC Office of Human Rights. “If there is some reason the business wants to refuse that change or don't respond to us then we'll file a formal charge of discrimination against the business.”

For persons without Twitter, a bathroom neutrality complaint can be filed over the phone by calling 202-481-3773. 

About 280 reports have been issued to the DC Office of Human Rights since the launch of the campaign. 

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