Federal buildings must now let transgender people use the restroom of their choice

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Federal buildings nationwide must now let transgender employees and visitors us the restroom that matches their gender identity.

The decision came down from the general services administration, which oversees 9,200 Federal buildings including courthouses and social security offices nationwide.

The GSA put out a bulletin stating Federal employees and their guests are allowed to use bathrooms according to their gender identity. The bulletin says that denying that access would be considered sex discrimination.

trans4James Parrish from Equality Virginia commented on the decision.

“Going to the restroom is something that we all do, and transgender people need to do as well, and transgender people should be going to the restrooms that correspond with their gender identity,” Parrish said.

The debate over whether transgender people should use bathrooms according to their gender identity or anatomical sex has made headlines for more than a year.

A bill that would have required students to use gender specific bathrooms based on their “anatomical sex” failed in the General Assembly earlier this year. And a Virginia teen’s fight to use the men’s bathroom at his high school is in limbo as the Supreme Court decides whether to hear the case. But today, some are applauding the decision by the GSA.

“Going to the restroom is something that we all do, and transgender people need to do as well, and transgender people should be going to the restrooms that correspond with their gender identity,” Parrish said.

Zephyr Acosta-Lewis, who is transgender spoke with 8News.

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“Having policies in place to actively protect trans people is really vital,” Acosta-Lewis said.

Acosta-Lewis said he has chosen to wait to go to the bathroom in the past, fearing for his safety.

“I want to be safe in a public bathroom just as much as you do, I want to feel comfortable and secure when I’m in that private space as much as anybody else,” Acosta-Lewis said.

“Having to make a decision between being in discomfort and your physical safety is not a decision I feel anyone should have to make,” Acosta-Lewis said.

But opponents have argued that the privacy and safety of non-transgender students are not being protected with policies like the GSA’s.

Acosta-Lewis defended his position.

“I want to be safe in a public bathroom just as much as you do, I want to feel comfortable and secure when I’m in that private space as much as anybody else,” Acosta-Lewis said.

The GSA’s bulletin can be found here.

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