Councilmember Helen Gym Introduces Bills to Expand Rights of Trans and Gender Non-Conforming People
Councilmember Helen Gym (At-Large) introduced two bills to protect and expand the rights of trans and gender non-conforming people in Philadelphia. Gym’s bills require youth-serving organizations to have an appropriate policy in place to protect trans and gender non-conforming young people, and require Philadelphia City Hall to have at least one gender neutral bathroom on every floor.
It is well documented that trans youth are at higher risk for suicide, mental health issues, violence and murder, and a recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics revealed alarming levels of attempted suicide in trans youth, as high as 50% for trans boys.
The first bill ensures that youth-serving institutions are protecting trans and gender non-confirming children by requiring organizations to have policies in place to protect them that meet or exceed the standards of the School District of Philadelphia’s Policy 252. Policy 252 is an industry best-practice, which was developed and influenced by the people most impacted.
The second bill requires that every floor of Philadelphia City Hall have at least one gender neutral bathroom, and reports on progress towards making all public facilities accommodating. This bill brings City Hall into the modern age and expands on Mayor Kenney’s pathbreaking 2012 legislative package, which included a requirement that new or renovated public buildings have gender neutral bathrooms. Currently, the only gender neutral bathroom in City Hall is on the 7th floor, which creates a barrier for visitors or employees looking for a bathroom.
“Trans rights are human rights and trans existence is not up for debate,” said Councilmember Helen Gym (At-Large). “While we have a federal government hellbent on erasing trans people, we in Philadelphia have an obligation to raise the bar for inclusive and supporting spaces. That means everyone should have the basic dignity of using a bathroom that feels safe and affirming. It means every young person in our city should be able to trust in and be protected by the institutions serving them. I am proud that Philadelphia has enacted and continues to enforce one of the most far reaching anti-discriminatory laws in the country, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity, sex, or sexual orientation. These bills expand those rights and continue to make Philadelphia one of the most welcoming and affirming cities in the country.”
“We need to support youth in their now, and this bill is a strong step forward to ensure that youth-serving organizations are truly serving and supporting all young people,” said Hazel Edwards, Interim Director of the Bryson Institute at the Attic Youth Center. “If we believe that youth are the future then we need to let them live in their authentic true selves, or unfortunately we could lose them to an oppressive system and never experience the power from our future leaders.”
“We join Councilmember Gym in support of these two bills that will improve support for trans and gender non-conforming Philadelphians,” said Chris Bartlett, Executive Director of the William Way LGBT Community Center. “In a time of increasing violence directed towards trans people, it’s important that we continue Philadelphia’s historic leadership in advocating for and centering them.”
“We welcome Councilmember Gym’s bill to protect trans and GNC youth, and to expand gender neutral bathrooms,” said Julien Terrell, Executive Director of Philadelphia Student Union. “This isn’t just about providing a welcoming and inviting space for our trans and GNC family. It’s also about challenging and shifting culture away from an oppressive and unnecessary binary to one that is truly honoring the realities of all young people.”
“This bill will provide more legal protections for transgender youth, and it will introduce suggested professional development tactics like Transgender competency training,” said Naiymah Sanchez, Trans Justice Organizer for the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “This type of training has proven to change the climate for trans youth and the way we understand and support people who are Transgender-identified.”