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Assistant House Speaker Katherine M. Clark (D-Mass.) and Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) are urging the Committee on House Administration to support efforts to install more single occupancy restrooms in the Capitol to better serve visitors, including transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals, people with disabilities, older adults and parents of small children.

In a letter to Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who chairs the committee, Clark and Jeffries noted “all employees, interns, and visitors should have access to safe and comfortable restrooms.”

“As lawmakers, we can more effectively represent our constituents when our staff and interns reflect the diversity of the American people,” the two wrote. “However, absent improvements, we in Congress are limiting our ability to hire and retain individuals who belong to these communities.”

Clark, in an interview with The Washington Post, said the letter was sparked, in part, by two occasions in which she and Jeffries could not direct transgender individuals to a gender-neutral bathroom at the Capitol. Jeffries, she said, was trying to accommodate an intern working his office, while she was hosting author Jacob Tobia, who is transgender, who asked for where a gender-neutral bathroom was, “and I could not direct [them] to one,” Clark said.

In their letter, Clark and Jeffries noted that other federal buildings have improved accessibility to single-use restrooms but that the House buildings and the Capitol haven’t caught up.

Clark told The Post that she’s aware the issue may draw criticism from those who oppose transgender rights.

“I believe we know that not only are our states enacting laws that are open and fully discriminatory against transgender people, but also that restrooms are a place where violence happens,” she said. But it is Pride Month, she noted, and “we feel it is the very appropriate time to be representing all of our communities and make sure they have fair and equal access to our public buildings.”


Original story HERE