Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

OSHA: Let transgender people choose restrooms

New guidelines in line with anti-discrimination laws

Following local and national discussion about transgender rights, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has released new guidelines covering use of workplace restrooms. In a handbook published last week, OSHA recommends that anyone who identifies as a man should be allowed to use a men’s restroom in a workplace, and anyone who identifies as a woman should be allowed to use a women’s restroom, regardless of the sex they were assigned at birth. That’s what the Spokane City Council said last year when it added gender identity as a protected class under the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance. A few weeks prior, in response to a complaint from a constituent, the Spokane Valley City Council cited state and federal anti-discrimination laws in upholding the rights of transgender people to use public restrooms. The attack on a transgender woman in Spokane earlier this year led to an outpouring of support for improved transgender rights in the city. On a Friday night in late January, two men allegedly beat Jacina Scamahorn outside a bakery on West Main Avenue. Adam Flippen, 45, and Marc Fessler, 42, were arrested on malicious harassment charges in connection with the case. Witnesses accused the responding Spokane police officers of mishandling the situation, prompting the department to conduct an internal investigation. More recently, discussion has swirled around Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, an Olympic gold medalist and TV personality. OSHA recommends that single-occupancy restrooms be designated as gender-neutral, or “unisex,” and that stalls have locking doors. The handbook was developed at the request of the National Center for Transgender Equality and cites several state and federal laws that make it illegal to deny restroom privileges to any employee.