Metro Weekly

New federal regulation will allow transgender people restroom access

GSA rule is yet another example of Obama administration's consistency on transgender rights

The front of the U.S. General Services Administration building - Photo: General Services Administration.
The front of the U.S. General Services Administration building – Photo: General Services Administration.

A new regulation will require a number of federal buildings to allow transgender employees and visitors to used the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity.

It will apply to roughly 9,200 properties under the control of the General Services Administration, but not to the White House, the Capitol building, or properties under the control of the National Parks Service, reports BuzzFeed.

A bulletin outlining the new rule was circulated to agency heads last week. It will also say that transgender people cannot be restricted to using only single-occupancy restrooms.

Transgender people will not need to complete any medical procedure, such as going on hormones or undergoing gender confirmation surgery, to “qualify” to use restrooms, and GSA employees cannot require them to show proof of surgery.

The regulation is consistent with the Obama administration’s interpretation that various laws and regulations prohibiting sex discrimination apply to transgender people discriminated against because of their gender identity.

Several government agencies have ruled that Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act both protect transgender people from being barred from facilities that match their gender identity, and some, including the Office of Personnel Management, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice, have offered guidance concerning transgender people’s ability to access restrooms or other facilities.

But those interpretations are being challenged in court. Two separate lawsuits, involving at least 23 states, are challenging the Department of Education’s guidance on transgender students, arguing that restricting such students to the restroom of their biological sex does not constitute discrimination.

The Department of Justice and the state of North Carolina are currently waging dueling lawsuits over the state’s HB 2 law, and whether Title VII’s prohibitions on sex-based discrimination apply to transgender individuals.

Related: Court hears lawsuit over federal guidance for transgender students

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