How Public Bathrooms Construct and Manifest Cultural Assumptions About Social Identity
In March, North Carolina enacted a law requiring that people be allowed to use only the public restroom that corresponds to the sex on their birth certificates. Meanwhile, the White House has taken an opposing position, directing that trans students be allowed to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. In response, on May 25, 11 states sued the Obama administration to block the federal government from enforcing the directive. Some argue that one solution is to convert all public restrooms to unisex use, thereby eliminating the need to even consider a patron’s sex. This might strike some as bizarre or drastic. Many assume that separating restrooms based on a person’s biological sex is the “natural” way to determine who should and should not be permitted to use these public spaces.
Department of Education (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) clarified that the civil rights of transgender school students are protected under Title IX (of the Education Amendments of 1972), which prohibits sex discrimination. In the weeks that followed, 11 states sued the federal government over the directive. (Richardson B)
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Office of Safe and Healthy Students. Examples of policies and emerging practices for supporting transgender students. 2016.
Richardson B. 11 states sue Obama administration over federal transgender school-bathroom directive. The Washington Times, May 25, 2016.
Graham DA. North Carolina overturns LGBT-discrimination bans. The Atlantic, March 24, 2016. A
James SE, Herman JL, Rankin S, et al. . The report of the 2015 U.S. transgender survey. Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality, 2016