How Can State Laws That Regulate The Use Of Public Bathrooms By Transgender Individuals Be Overturned?

Recent state laws have attempted to bar individuals from using gender appropriate bathrooms in schools and other public buildings. These laws seek to define gender as the biological gender assigned at birth rather than the gender with which an individual self-identifies, and grant access to bathroom facilities according to the assigned gender.

Naturally, this creates the same distress for a transgender individual that would occur if non-transgender individuals were forced to use bathrooms for different genders.

These laws are not only discriminatory, but illegal under federal law, and will likely result in challenges in federal court and substantial settlements paid to the victims.

What is gender identity?

Gender identity is the gender to which an individual self-identifies even though their biology may indicate a different gender. For example, an individual who was born a biological male may actually feel as though they are a female from birth, although they may attempt to live in their biologically assigned role.

As societal norms evolve, and knowledge of gender identity expands, transgender individuals are now claiming their rights to live as their authentic gender. This may involve physical and behavioral transformation, or simply a change of self-identification and a continuation of other aspects of their lives, including their personal appearance.

What are the stated needs for state laws that regulate bathroom access according to assigned gender?

Proponents insist that allowing bathroom access to both biological genders grants pedophiles and sexual opportunists access to children and vulnerable females. Religious objections to shared use of facilities by both genders are also raised in defense of these laws.

However, most laws that are passed to limit the rights of a minority group are defended by a demonizing of the group by demagogues that use fear to gain power and promote their own agendas. These fears are later seen to be unfounded as society becomes accustomed to inclusiveness.

Which federal laws supersede these state statutes? Discrimination based on gender is prohibited in schools by the Title IX Education Amendments of 1972, while Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars discrimination in businesses and the workplace.

How can these state laws be struck down?

Private organizations and businesses can put pressure on state officials by withholding financial incentives such as large scale employment opportunities and major events from the states in question.

While this may soften the state officials' resolve to support and retain discriminatory laws, it will take individuals who are brave enough to challenge the laws in federal court to remove the laws from the books.

This will require risking arrest in states with discriminatory laws by transgender individuals using their bathrooms of choice, as brave African Americans challenged laws that barred them from "whites only" public facilities in the past. Only after these laws were challenged at the local level could they be taken to federal court and overturned. 

With the help of civil rights attorneys, civil disobedience at the local level can be appealed all the way to federal court and redefine federal laws against discrimination to include the rights of transgender individuals to use the public facilities of their choice.

Federal laws against gender discrimination in public facilities are already on the books.They just need to be clearly defined to include bathroom use and gender identity

Civil rights attorneys have already been successful in obtaining compensation for victims of gender identity discrimination in bathroom access cases. Although civil court cases cannot change law, they are an indicator of public acceptance that discrimination in any form will no longer be tolerated, and that archaic state laws cannot chip away at the promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for every American.

Contact a local attorney to learn more.