The battle to protect the rights of transgender individuals is fought on many fronts. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) establishes that transgender people have the same civil rights in housing and employment as every Californian. Of course, having the law on your side is not the same as being free from harassment and discrimination. FEHA is an important tool in the fight for equal treatment, but more needs to be done.
While transgender individuals face many challenges in the fields of education, employment, housing and other basic civil rights, one of the most common forms of harassment they face today involves the use of restrooms and efforts to restrict their use to persons based on “biological sex.” North Carolina’s despicable House Bill 2 (HB2) enshrines such discrimination into state law.
A safe restroom to use is a basic human right and essential for all employees to perform their jobs well. As explained by one transgender person, Tamara Lusardi, who successfully sued the Department of the Army for discrimination based on her supervisors barring her from using the same restroom as all other female employees, “As a disabled veteran, I take great pride in my work making sure our soldiers are safe, and I want to be able to focus on doing a good job without worrying about harassment in the workplace or getting in trouble when I need to use a bathroom.”
In California, San Francisco Assembly member Phil Ting recently proposed a rule that would make single stall public restrooms gender neutral. According to KABC-TV Los Angeles, the Assembly approved the measure 52-18 and it will now head to the California Senate for further consideration. If the Senate approves, the measure would go to the Governor Jerry Brown for his signature and could become law by March 2017.
The proposed law in California is not a complete answer to HB2, but it does establish that more bathrooms should accommodate all genders. This could potentially reduce some of the difficulties faced by transgender people, who are subjected to harassment and abuse simply by walking into a bathroom.
For over 20 years, the Dolan Law Firm has represented LGBT clients to stop discrimination embedded in workplace polices and practices that caused them deep emotional pain and prevented their career advancement. In 2016,The Advocate has selected Chris Dolan as one of the top 25 Attorneys Fighting For Trans Rights, helping transgender persons secure their equal rights.