New Rules to Require Equal Bathroom Rights for Trans People in Most Federal Facilities


The General Services Administration will soon post an update to the Federal Register, the official journal of the federal government that disseminates new federal rules and regulations for its many agencies, requiring all federally operated facilities to begin allowing transgender individuals to use the restroom "consistent with their gender identity," BuzzFeed reported Monday.

The rule will affect approximately 9,200 properties, which will now be required to extend those bathroom rights to approximately 1 million employees as well as visitors to those sites, according to BuzzFeed. Excluded are facilities like the Capitol building, the White House and national parks the GSA does not supervise.

Though the GSA is nominally independent, President Barack Obama nominated its administrator, Denise Turner Roth, in 2015.

National Center for Transgender Equality executive director Mara Keisling said to BuzzFeed the new rules are "more evidence that the Obama administration is serious about enforcing the law."

In the past year, preventing gender identity-consistent bathroom access for transgender people has become a major issue for social conservatives across the United States who have agitated for government action prohibiting it.

Roughly half of all states have joined a major lawsuit against the Obama administration for issuing a directive in May warning schools they could lose federal funding for violating prohibitions on sex discrimination in Title IX, a major federal civil rights law. In many cases, such as in Mississippi and Texas, the proposed or passed legislation addresses those conservatives' broader belief the right to express Christian beliefs and preferences is under assault from LGBT activists trying to live free of discrimination.

The administration has launched its own offensives, suing the state of North Carolina over HB2, a newly enacted state law that requires everyone in the state to use public bathrooms according to the sex listed on their birth certificate (and, among other things, annulled all local governments' anti-LGBT discrimination bans and stripped state workers of their right to sue for discrimination).

"Although I respect their different viewpoints," Obama said in April, "I think it's very important for us not to send signals that anybody is treated differently."

Aug. 15, 2016 at 9:57 p.m.: This article has been updated.