By Eric B. Meyer
Now, let’s revisit the issue of transgender employees and restroom access.
As I noted last March in my prior transgender bathroom post, this issue is real. With an estimated 700,000 adults in the United States who are transgender — meaning their internal gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth (e.g., the sex listed on their birth certificate) — it’s quite likely that this issue will crop up in your workplace.
OSHA’s Best Practices
Even the U.S. Army found out the hard way. And then there’s yesterday’s news of transphobic comments from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, where he joked that he wished he had been transgender in high school to shower with the girls.
So, with the spotlight shining brighter than ever on transgender issues, OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) now weighs in with “A Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers.”
The OSHA publication explores gender identity, restroom access as a heath and safety matter, and OSHA’s sanitation standards. It then provides what it deems “model practices for restroom access for transgender employees.”
These model practices start with the premise that “all employee should be permitted to use the facilities that correspond to their gender identity.” And, it’s up to the employee to determine for him- or herself “the most appropriate and safest option.”
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Two workplace bathroom options
The OSHA publication offers two optional solutions:
- Single-occupancy gender-neutral (unisex) facilities; and,
- Use of the multiple-occupant, gender-neutral restroom facilities with lockable single occupant stalls.
Additionally, the publication warns that employees should not be asked to provide any medical or legal documentation of their gender identity in order to have access to gender-appropriate facilities. Plus, no employee should be required to use a segregated facility apart from other employees because of their gender identity or transgender status.
Transgender issues are still relatively new in the workplace. Stay ahead of the curve by making a point to address them in your employee/manager training.
Other helpful information
For more information on transgender issues and your workplace, check out these links:
- American Psychological Association — They offer answers to your questions about transgender people, gender identity and gender expression.
- Transgender Law Center’s model employer policy, with an extensive section on restrooms.
- Human Rights Campaign’s Restroom Access for Transgender Employees.
- National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality — National Transgender Discrimination Survey.
This was originally published on Eric B. Meyer’s blog, The Employer Handbook.