Yelp just took a huge step designed to make the lives of transgender and gender nonconforming people easier when they’re out and about.
TechCrunch reports that Yelp is introducing a feature that will allow users to see whether a given business offers gender-neutral bathrooms. This update will be available on both the desktop and mobile versions.
Gender-neutral bathrooms are defined as restrooms that anyone can use, regardless of gender, rather than being designated as "men" and "women." They generally have a private stall with a lock, which, for transgender and nonconforming people, corresponds to an extra layer of comfort and security.
Yelp’s new feature would also enable users to directly search for businesses that offer gender-neutral lavatories.
But it’s actually not a surprise that the company is taking this step. After all, the Yelp was one of the 54 companies that signed an amicus brief in support of Gavin Grimm, the transgender student whose case is expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court later this month.
Rachel Williams, Yelp’s head of diversity and inclusion, told TechCrunch that the new feature was introduced in direct response to the recent events that have shaken the transgender community.
"People in this company were so incensed by what’s going on in our country, and to potential employees and customers, that they wanted to do something to support," she said. "The product team got it done within a couple of days. They dropped everything to add this feature. I’m overjoyed and proud."
She added, “The culture is changing. That is what the big indicator is. Rightly or wrongly, this new administration has galvanized the folks. People are excited and fired up."
It's unclear whether the feature will have the effect of encouraging more local businesses to provide gender-neutral bathrooms for their customers, but we hope it will — and we applaud Yelp for taking an important step to develop new technology with the transgender community in mind.