Tuesday, March 7, 2017

SCOTUS reverses decision to review transgender bathroom case

Yesterday, the Supreme Court reversed an earlier decision that would have heard the appeal of a 4th Circuit opinion granting a transgender boy the right to use the bathroom of his identified gender.

The decision comes on the heels of the Trump administration’s policy change [pdf], which revoked the Obama administration’s guidance that protected the bathroom rights of transgender students in public schools.

As a result, the lower court must now answer the thornier question of whether federal law (and not just a White House interpretation of it) equates gender-identity discrimination with sex discrimination.

From a legal standpoint, this case is fascinating. From a human standpoint, I ask this question—why is this an issue with which were are grappling in the first place?

Consider what I wrote on this is very issue just last year:
If an employee genuinely believes she is female (regardless of whether she was born a male), why do we care if she uses the women’s restroom?  
I’m certain I have readers who are thinking, “I don’t want those freaks in my bathroom.” Well, this post isn’t for you (or maybe it’s especially for you). You are doing exponentially more harm to the mental well-being of your transgender employee(s) if you force them into the wrong bathroom or segregate them in a single-gender bathroom, than you are doing to your other employees by having them share their bathroom with their trans co-workers. Any other answer to this issue is bigotry, period. And, in 2016, we should be well beyond institutional bigotry of any kind.
OSHA considers this a workplace safety issue, and the EEOC a discrimination issue (although I would expect to see a reversal of course by both over the next few years). 

This issue is one of the most glaring examples I’ve ever seen of a solution in search of a problem. 

Employers, do right by all of your employees, and let’s make this the last time I need to write about this an issue as an issue of concern in the workplace.