transgender bathroom issues

Transgender Bathroom Issues

Kathy Willens / AP Protesters hold signs at a rally in support of transgender youth on Feb. 23, 2017, at the Stonewall National Monument in New York. They were demonstrating against President Donald Trump’s decision to roll back a federal rule saying public schools had to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their chosen gender identity. The rule had already been blocked from enforcement, but transgender advocates view the Trump administration action as a step back for transgender rights. Protesters hold signs at a rally in support of transgender youth on Feb. 23, 2017, at the Stonewall National Monument in New York. They were demonstrating against President Donald Trump’s decision to roll back a federal rule saying public schools had to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their chosen gender identity. The rule had already been blocked from enforcement, but transgender advocates view the Trump administration action as a step back for transgender rights. (Kathy Willens / AP)
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Transgender Bathroom Issues

Protesters hold signs at a rally in support of transgender youth on Feb. 23, 2017, at the Stonewall National Monument in New York. They were demonstrating against President Donald Trump’s decision to roll back a federal rule saying public schools had to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their chosen gender identity. The rule had already been blocked from enforcement, but transgender advocates view the Trump administration action as a step back for transgender rights.
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Transgender Bathroom Issues

Protesters hold signs at a rally in support of transgender youth on Feb. 23, 2017, at the Stonewall National Monument in New York. They were demonstrating against President Donald Trump’s decision to roll back a federal rule saying public schools had to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their chosen gender identity. The rule had already been blocked from enforcement, but transgender advocates view the Trump administration action as a step back for transgender rights. (Kathy Willens / AP)
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Transgender Bathroom Issues

If they were, we would know by now, as transgender people have been using public bathrooms and locker rooms for decades. Policies that allow transgender people to use the correct bathroom—the bathroom that best matches the transgender person’s identity—do not legalize harassment, stalking, violence, or sexual assault. Those behaviors are, and will continue to be, against the law for anyone, anywhere.
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Transgender Bathroom Issues

Offering separate or private bathrooms is a great way to ensure anyone can feel comfortable when they go to the bathroom, whether or not they’re transgender. However, private bath­rooms may be unavailable or very inconvenient to access. More importantly, forcing transgender people to use private bathrooms when other people do not have to is isolating and reinforces the idea that transgender people are somehow harmful and should be kept separate from everybody else.
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Transgender Bathroom Issues

Lots of people feel uncomfortable in public restrooms, and that was true long before the current public debates about access for transgender people. Transgender people also want privacy in bathrooms and they use the bathroom for the same reason as everyone else: to do their business and leave. Thankfully, bathrooms have stall doors so this is not an issue. Opponents of equal rights are using a desire for privacy—without discussing what privacy truly means—as a way to harm transgender people.
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Transgender Bathroom Issues

Transgender-inclusive policies do allow for men’s and women’s rooms, and do not require gender-neutral bathrooms. Instead, transgender-inclusive policies allow all people—including transgender people—to use the bathroom that best matches their gender identity. Those who are living as women use the women’s room, and those that are living as men use the men’s restroom.
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Transgender Bathroom Issues

It’s when you start forcing transgender students to use a different bathroom that their privacy gets violated, they say. Transgender students will have to essentially out themselves by suddenly using a different bathroom. It would force them to share private medical information against their will and, perhaps more damaging, open themselves up to bullying and violence.
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The bathroom, and more specifically the public restroom, is where the rights of transgender people come into close proximity with the privacy rights of everyone. Indeed the U.S. Supreme Court agreed Friday to take up the issue in the case of a transgender high school student in Virginia who is seeking to use the boys’ bathroom at school.
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That case did not deal with transgender people, but opponents of bathroom laws say it’s easy to connect the dots today. Indeed, at least two federal courts already have, in ruling that civil rights laws could apply to a claim brought by a fired transgender woman who thought he or she was unfairly fired.
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And once again, the case law on this is unclear. Older court cases say there are no laws written to explicitly protect transgender people from discrimination. If Congress wants a new law for to explicitly protect transgender people from discrimination at the workplace, in housing, in the pizza joint, in the bathroom, etc., it will have to write it. And that hasn’t happened yet.
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When done correctly, laws allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with shouldn’t even cause a ripple in people’s daily lives. Female students won’t even know they’re showering with a transgender female, for example, if that girl is treated like any other student, say LGBT advocates.
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Everyone—including transgender people—should be treated equally under the law. Like all nondiscrimination protections, trans-inclusive policies don’t require anyone to change their religious beliefs: they simply ensure that transgender people can live, work, study and participate in public life according to their identities.
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Fighting over who uses which genders’ bathroom, or over the “true gender” of transitioning individuals, misses a wonderful occasion to build a better culture for us all. For the purpose of bathroom access, it ought to be irrelevant to debate the status of transgender people, or what a person’s supposedly “true” gender really is under American law.
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In fact, it is even irrelevant, whether the issue is of transgender, disability and caregiver access, or simply a situation in which an opposite-sex parent is helping a child new to the bathroom. We need a solution that protects the dignity and privacy of every person in a bathroom.
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In other words, there’s no straight answer on whether North Carolina’s law violates federal civil rights laws. That’s because unlike other now-settled civil rights issues, the transgender rights debate is still in its infancy.
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Most recently, it said a Chicago-area school district broke the law by banning a transgender student from the girls’ locker room. And of course, the government now says says North Carolina’s law is illegal. At least one federal court agrees; just last month, a Virginia federal appeals court ruled in favor of Virginia high school junior Gavin Grimm, saying he can sue his school board for discrimination because it banned him from the boys’ bathroom. In making its decision, the court cited the Department of Education’s interpretation of gender discrimination.
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The Fix The legal fight over North Carolina’s transgender bathroom law, in 4 questions The inside track on Washington politics. Be the first to know about new stories from PowerPost. Sign up to follow, and we’ll e-mail you free updates as they’re published. You’ll receive free e-mail news updates each time a new story is published. You’re all set! Sign up *Invalid email address Got it Got it
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Our society should build unisex, single-room mini-bathrooms for all, like the kind you find in an airplane. These bathrooms would address not only the issue of transgender bathroom usage, but also of privacy concerns generally.
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The Obama administration earlier this year issued a directive to states, districts and schools that said transgender students are offered broad civil rights protections under Title IX, including bathroom and locker room access. The guidance has prompted about half of states to sue over the issue, arguing that the administration is trying to rewrite the definition of “sex-based discrimination” to include gender identity.
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North Carolina became the first (and so far only) state to restrict where transgender people can use public bathrooms and locker rooms, and gay rights advocates almost immediately filed a lawsuit challenging the law’s legality. Now the state is suing the government, and the government is suing the state. Basically, lawsuits all around.
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Why? Because when Title IX was written, it explicitly said that having separate bathrooms and locker rooms for men and women is not discrimination. The way the Obama administration is reading the law, some observers think private health clubs and gyms might also have to open up their bathrooms to transgender people.
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“These are not hypothetical abstract fears,” Tara Borelli, a lawyer with Lambda Legal who is involved in a lawsuit challenging the law, told The Fix recently, citing two clients in the lawsuit who say they were bullied for being forced to use a different restroom. Because they are so different, transgender people are some of the most vulnerable people in our society to bullying, violence, depression and suicide, say LGBT advocates.