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Portland's Push for Gender-Neutral Bathrooms Is Bolder Than You Thought

"Our goal is to expand choice," says Commissioner Nick Fish.

Last week, the city of Portland officially converted about 600 gender-specific, single-user bathrooms into all-user, gender-neutral facilities.

But it also launched a pilot project by turning one multi-user bathroom—the one pictured above in the Portland Building—into a gender-neutral space, too.

Until next year, when the Portland Building undergoes a major renovation, the city will be gathering feedback from employees and the public on what it's like when sitters and standers pee together.

"Our goal is to expand choice," says Commissioner Nick Fish, who pushed for all-user restrooms with Commissioner Amanda Fritz. "This is just another option…We hope to learn whether it works."

The urinals will remain in the bathroom because the building codes require that they stay. Fish says the city put larger privacy shields around them instead of removing them.

Anyone who's not comfortable with the setup will still have access to bathrooms segregated by gender on all other floors of the downtown building.

Meantime, Fish called the conversion a "modest experiment" that could change how bathrooms are designed at the new Portland Building.

"I don't know where it's going to lead us," he says.