For the majority of people who are out at the mall, or a restaurant, or any type of public place, going to the bathroom does not result in a major conundrum. There is no angst, no uncertainty, no fear — well, except for a few service station bathrooms that put fear into anyone. If you are cisgender, you use the bathroom that matches your biological gender. The same, unfortunately, is not true for transgender women and men, who are faced with the question of whether to go to the bathroom or to hold it — neither being a great choice. Going to the bathroom means deciding which one to use. For a transgender woman, does she use the women’s bathroom and get harassed? Does she use the men’s bathroom — a bathroom of the opposite sex and one where she will be harassed? Or does she hold the need to go to the bathroom, resulting in discomfort, health risks, or emotional trauma? The Washington State Human Rights Commission (HRC) has now answered the question: you use the bathroom, the locker room, the shower room, or the dressing room to which you gender identify. Whether you agree with the HRC
or not (and having frontline experience with this, I know that there are a number of those who do not), this article will give all who represent stores, schools,
gyms, service stations, hotels/motels, and other places of public accommodations the basic information you will need to properly advise your clients. These
are questions that your clients (and the general public) will likely ask.
As for you employment lawyers, the HRC has promulgated new rules regarding employment practices involving transgender women and men — but that is
a topic for another day and another author.
What are the new rules?
In short, Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 162-32-060 requires all
places of public accommodation to allow their patrons/users/guests, etc., to use
gender-segregated facilities to which they gender identify:
To Pee or
Not to Pee
What Your Clients
Need to Know About
Access in Washington
by Salvador A. Mungia