Evans proposes gender-neutral bathrooms at State Capitol


At the State Capitol, asking for directions to the men’s or women’s bathroom could soon become a bit antiquated.

In what would be a one-year pilot project, Rep. Cindy Evans, a Democrat representing the North Kona and Kohala areas on the Big Island, proposed designating at least three public restrooms at the capitol building as gender neutral, making them available to wahine and kane.

While the idea might make some uncomfortable, to say the least, Evans thinks the practice could cut down on construction costs if expanded.

That is, if it doesn’t get flushed by her colleagues first.

“You don’t have to invest so much in building costs,” she said. “It’s kind of like doing renewable energy.”

Evans said she has used gender-neutral restrooms before while traveling and thinks they are safe.

“It didn’t bother me,” she said. “I just had to go to the bathroom.”

While perhaps unorthodox, Evans’ approach isn’t entirely unprecedented in the United States.

Last November, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed a bill requiring new or renovated city buildings to have gender-neutral restrooms.

The intent was to accommodate transgender individuals.

Evans said she has had a transgender staff member and understands the challenge gender-specific restrooms present for them. But, she said, her intent is on saving taxpayers money, whether or not they end up thanking her for it.

“We want to be smart in our building design,” Evans said. “We want to move forward.”

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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