Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Transgender bathroom access remains a solution in search of a problem

Yesterday, the Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal of a school district challenging the right of a transgender student to use the bathroom that corresponded to his gender identity, leaving in place the landmark 4th Circuit opinion holding that transgender bathroom restrictions constitute illegal sex discrimination.

This decision falls in line with the EEOC's recent statement on this issue for employers.

Courts have long recognized that employers may have separate bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers for men and women, or may choose to have unisex or single-use bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers. The Commission has taken the position that employers may not deny an employee equal access to a bathroom, locker room, or shower that corresponds to the employee's gender identity. In other words, if an employer has separate bathrooms, locker rooms, or showers for men and women, all men (including transgender men) should be allowed to use the men's facilities and all women (including transgender women) should be allowed to use the women's facilities.
Employers, answer me this. Why do we care? 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? This issue is one of the most glaring examples I've ever seen of a solution in search of a problem.

I'm certain I have readers who are thinking, "I don't want those 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 2021, we should be well beyond institutional bigotry of any kind.

* Photo by Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash