18 states guarantee access to public accommodations for transgender individuals
At least 4 states have laws restricting access
The battle over transgender rights has exploded into the mainstream in 2016, with the issue of bathroom access taking the forefront.
Mississippi and North Carolina sparked anger in the LGBT community and among its supporters by passing legislation restricting access. Last month, Massachusetts became the first state this year to go in the opposite direction.
And Monday, a federal judge in Texas issued a nationwide injunction barring federal government agencies from taking action against school districts that don’t follow the Obama administration’s guidance on transgender bathroom policies in schools.
Here’s where things stand nationwide on this contentious issue:
18 states, Washington, D.C. ban discrimination in public accommodations based on gender identity
California – A 2011 state law allows transgender individuals their choice of restrooms. A proposal to make all single-user bathrooms gender neutral (AB 1732) has passed the state assembly and is pending in the state senate.
Colorado – Under a 2008 state law, all public accommodations must “allow individuals the use of gender-segregated facilities that are consistent with their gender identity.”
Connecticut – A 2011 law prohibits discrimination based on transgender status. It does not explicitly discuss bathroom choice, but advocates say they believe it covers the issue.
Delaware – A 2013 law bans discrimination against transgender individuals in public accommodations.
Hawaii – In 2006, the state added gender identity to its laws banning discrimination in public accommodations. Since then, state law has given transgender people the right to use restrooms that correspond to the person’s gender identity.
Illinois – The Illinois Human Rights Act allows bathroom use consistent with gender identity.
Iowa – The Iowa Civil Rights Act has prohibited discrimination in public accommodations, including restrooms, since 2007.
Maine – Under a 2005 law ratified by voters later that year, discrimination against transgender individuals in public accommodations is prohibited.
Maryland – The Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014 prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity in public accommodations.
Massachusetts – An anti-discrimination law passed in July and signed by the governor gives transgender people the right to use public restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identities, regardless of their sex at birth.
Minnesota – The Minnesota legislature passed a bill in 1993 outlawing discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation, which the law defines as including “having or being perceived as having a self-image or identity not traditionally associated with one’s biological maleness or femaleness.”
Nevada – The state legislature amended Nevada’s anti-discrimination law in 2011 to prohibit discrimination in public accommodations based on gender identity.
New Jersey – A 2006 state law bans discrimination in public accommodations based on gender identity or expression, but there is some confusion as to whether the law applies to restroom access.
New Mexico – New Mexico lawmakers amended the state’s Human Rights Act in 2003 to ban discrimination in public accommodations based on gender identity.
Oregon – The Oregon Equality Act, enacted in 2007, prohibits gender identity discrimination in public accommodations.
Rhode Island – The state amended its anti-discrimination statutes in 2001 to prohibit discrimination in public accommodations based on gender identity.
Vermont – The state Human Rights Commission interprets Vermont law to require that “an individual be permitted to access restrooms in accordance with his/her gender identity, rather than his/her assigned sex at birth.”
Washington – In 2006, the Washington Law Against Discrimination was amended to include protections for transgender people against discrimination in public accommodations.
Washington, D.C. – The city’s Human Rights Act gives transgender people the right to use the bathroom of their choice. D.C. law also requires that single-stall bathrooms must be gender neutral.
Numerous cities also have passed legislation or policies prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of gender identity. They include:
Albany, New York; Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Binghamton, New York; Boise, Idaho; Buffalo, New York; Cincinnati; Dallas; El Paso, Texas; Indianapolis; Ithica, New York; Kansas City, Missouri; Louisville, Kentucky; Milwaukee; New Orleans; New York City, Philadelphia; Phoenix; Pittsburgh; Rochester, New York; San Antonio; San Francisco; and West Hollywood, California.
At least four states have laws that either restrict bathroom access or restrict local jurisdictions from writing laws that would allow it
Arkansas – A state law passed in 2015 prohibits local jurisdictions from passing anti-discrimination legislation more restrictive than the state’s, which does not ban discrimination based on gender identity.
Mississippi – HB 1523, signed into law in April, does not explicitly regulate bathroom access, but grants immunity to those who wish to set policies.
North Carolina – HB 2, signed in March, bans individuals from using public bathrooms that do not correspond to their biological sex.
Tennessee – Legislation signed into law in 2011 prohibits local jurisdictions from passing anti-discrimination legislation more restrictive than the state’s, which does not ban discrimination based on gender identity.
Legislation has been introduced in many states to regulate bathroom access
While some of these proposals may not be enacted, they help underscore the national scope of the discussion over the issue:
Michigan – A bill currently in committee would urge the state’s Board of Education to ignore recently issued guidance on LGBT students, including allowing them to use the restrooms of their choice.
New York – Proposed legislation would require schools to segregate restrooms.
Washington – A ballot initiative would repeal the state’s anti-discrimination law.
Oklahoma – A bill seeks the impeachment of President Barack Obama over the federal Department of Education’s recent guidance to school districts on transgender issues, including bathroom access.
Other states where legislation has been proposed or is under consideration include Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming, according to the Transgender Equality Center.
Finally, several states have sued, challenging the federal government over its transgender directive for school districts
They are: Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin and West Virginia. Two school districts in Arizona and Maine Gov. Paul LePage are also listed as plaintiffs suing over the federal guidance.