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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 13, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 11
New app locates Trans-friendly restrooms - Restroom rights threatened in Texas
Section One
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New app locates Trans-friendly restrooms - Restroom rights threatened in Texas

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A new iPhone app can help Transgender and other gender variant people find safe restrooms.

The app - launched by Refuge Restrooms on iPhone and Android - allows business owners to identify gender-neutral and safe gendered restrooms. Trans people can then use the app to find the nearest safe restroom, much like a Grindr for toilets.

Trans-friendly business owners can also download signs from the Refuge Restrooms website to mark restrooms that are safe and welcoming for Trans people.

'One of the biggest battlefields upon which the fight for transgender rights is taking place daily are restrooms,' the app's creators say in a statement. 'It seems that every other week a transgender child is made the centre of a national news story because they used the restroom assigned to the gender they identify with.

'Obviously, we believe that every transgender person should have the right to use the restroom they want to.

'However, we also realize that despite legislative victories in recent years regarding restroom usage, many transgender individuals still face both verbal and physical harassment simply for using the restroom. Nobody should have to face that - and that is why we created REFUGE.'

'Users can search for restrooms by proximity to a search location, add new restroom listings, as well as comment and rate existing listings. We seek to create a community focused not only on finding existing safe restroom access but also looking forward and participating in restroom advocacy for transgender, intersex, and gender nonconforming folk.'

According to the Refuge Restrooms website, the cities where the app has proved most popular are San Francisco, Las Vegas, Portland, DC, and New York.

Restroom rights under threat
Meanwhile, as if to prove the need for such an app, a Texas lawmaker has proposed a bill that would forbid schools from allowing students to use restrooms corresponding to their gender identity.

The bill, filed by Republican Rep. Gilbert Pena, is similar to one passed recently by the Kentucky Senate.

Under the proposed legislation, 'only persons of the same biological sex may be present at the same time in any bathroom, locker room, or shower facility in a building owned by the district.'

Schools could provide 'reasonable alternate' facilities if students swear they are Transgender and parents sign off on it, but districts could be held liable for a $2,000 fine plus damages, court costs, and attorneys fees, if employees knowingly allow Transgender students to use restrooms in accordance with their gender identity.

The measure also provides funds for rewards to peers who report Trans students for using a restroom illegally.

Pena's bill is the third anti-Trans restroom bill introduced in Texas this year, and it is not the most severe. Two other measures would make it a crime for Transgender people to use restrooms or similar facilities in accordance with their gender identity. The restroom bills are among at least 11 anti-LGBT measures that have been introduced in the current Texas Legislature.

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