People who are transgender are those who identify with a different sex from that which they were assigned at birth. A trans man believes she is a girl in a boy’s body. A trans woman believes he is a boy in a girl’s body. Despite their affiliation with the LGBTQ movement, transgender people may or may not be homosexual.
Since transgender people see themselves as the opposite sex, they want to use the restrooms of the opposite sex.
However, many people believe that a person’s physical makeup at birth determines sex, not the person’s beliefs about his or her sex. These groups of people are uncomfortable with having someone of the opposite sex in a restroom typically used by one gender only. They ask that the right of privacy in a restroom be respected.
There are currently no federal laws which explicitly protect transgender people. Transgender people must rely on the sex discrimination protection of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Some judges have ruled that discrimination based on sex change is sex discrimination.
At the state level, California, District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Washington prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. Other states protect transgender people either as a subcategory of sexual orientation or sex discrimination. In 2014, California became the first state in the country which allows transgender students to use the restroom or locker room the student identifies with.
At the local level, some school districts give exceptions to individual students who identify with a certain sex.
There are numerous lawsuits on this issue. As mentioned above, only a handful of states explicitly protect transgender people while other states read transgender discrimination protection into existing discrimination laws.
Many cases regarding transgender discrimination are still pending, but in Colorado, a six year old transgender girl won a case which allowed her to use the girl’s restroom.
This may depend on your state. If your state explicitly or implicitly (through case law) protects transgender people, you may have a lawsuit if you refuse to allow a transgender employee to use the restroom of his or her sex.
If you wish to create a restroom policy, there are a few options:
The first option might create some complaints among your other employees. The second option is the most neutral, but critics might accuse you of promoting a liberal agenda. The third option might still be grounds for a lawsuit if the employee believes he or she is being segregated based on his or her identity.
A concern with the transgender movement and restrooms is that some men will use it as an opportunity to spy on or stalk women. Businesses which misinterpret the motives of a person could be caught between a rock and a hard place. If the business kicks out a transgender person, the business could be sued. If the business fails to kick out a sexual molester, the business could be sued.
Again, the legal answer may depend on the state and the facts of the case. A state which doesn’t protect transgender peole in any way, shape or form will allow businesses to prohibit persons from using the "incorrect" restroom. States which do protect transgender people might expect the company to at least ask why the person is in the restroom or fitting room.
There are two solutions. First, calling the authorities and making a sexual harassment lawsuit against the person in question is an option if your child has been threatened or injured. Second, the school or property owner could be sued for negligence.
Obviously, the property owner in question may argue that he or she was merely trying to comply with some transgender discrimination law. However, if said perpetrator has a record of stalking or molesting women in restrooms, compliance with discrimination laws may be a non-issue.
If you believe your rights have been violated, please contact a civil rights lawyer. Even if you think you will graduate from high school and that any action taken will not apply to you, you will be able to set precedent and change the school environment for future students.
If you are a transgender employee denied the use of a restroom at work, or a business trying to decide how to handle the transgender movement, please contact an employment lawyer.
If you or your child has been the victim of harassment, please call the police. A personal injury attorney can also help you recover money for any medical or mental treatment needed.
Last Modified: 04-24-2014 11:04 AM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.