Even in Liberal Communities, Transgender Bathroom Laws Worry Parents


Source: Time

By Belinda Luscombe

Belinda Luscombe is an editor-at-large of TIME

A Manhattan rec center struggles to make its locker rooms work for everyone

Girls from a swim team in New York City’s Upper West Side are too scared to use the women’s locker room at a Parks Department swimming pool. In March, a sign appeared noting that everyone has the the right to use the restroom or locker room consistent with their “gender identity or gender expression.” Around the same time, the girls, who range in age from about seven to 18, became concerned after they saw a “bearded individual” in the women’s changing room.

They are now using the family changing room to change in and out of their swimsuits, but it is not big enough for all 18 girls.

The complexity of this situation reveals some of the struggles that public institutions are facing as they implement policies that aim to ensure the rights of transgender individuals. And now these issues are about to go national. On May 13, the Obama administration warned public schools that they must allow transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of the gender that they identify with.

Even in states that have had more progressive gender identity policies in place for a while, like New York, unforeseen headaches have arisen. Not all restrooms are alike. A bathroom with individual stalls that offer some privacy, for example, is different from a locker room or changing room. A locker room in a school is different from a changing room in a public facility such as a recreation center or local pool, which people of all ages use at the same time.

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