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OSHA Gives Look at the Transgender Loo

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

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WASHINGTON--Caitlyn Jenner and the 700,000 other American adults who identify as transgender have newly defined federal protections in the workplace, a new guide reminds employers.

The protections aren't new, but the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has distilled and interpreted standards on the books in Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers for this growing population.

The guide was issued about the same time that former Olympian Bruce Jenner emerged on the cover of Vanity Fair as transgendered Caitlyn—and gained more than a million Twitter followers in four hours.

Restroom Rights

OSHA's new publication provides guidance to employers on best practices regarding restroom access for transgender workers.

Twitter @VanityFair

Self-identity, not anatomy, now drives restroom choice in the workplace, OSHA says. Caitlyn Jenner's employers must let her use the women's restroom, under a new best-practices guide by OSHA on transgender employees.

The guide was developed at the request of the National Center for Transgender Equality, an OSHA Alliance partner that works to develop products and materials to protect the safety and health of transgender workers, OSHA said.

About 700,000 American adults identify as transgender, according to data cited by OSHA.

What is Required

OSHA’s Sanitation Standard requires employers to "provide employees with sanitary and available toilet facilities, so that employees will not suffer the adverse health effects that can result if toilets are not available when employees need them," the agency says.

The "core principle" of that standard "is that all employees, including transgender employees, should have access to restrooms that correspond to their gender identity,” said Dr. David Michaels, the OSHA administrator.

“OSHA’s goal is to assure that employers provide a safe and healthful working environment for all employees."

OSHA says many companies have implemented written policies to ensure that all employees have prompt access to appropriate sanitary facilities.

Which Door?

"The core belief underlying these policies is that all employees should be permitted to use the facilities that correspond with their gender identity," OSHA says.

©iStock.com / shylendrahoode

About 700,000 American adults identify as transgender, according to data cited by OSHA. Workplace restroom access falls under the agency's Sanitation Standard.

In other words: A person who identifies as a man should be permitted to use men’s restrooms; a person who identifies as a woman should be permitted to use women’s restrooms. Period.

The publication includes a description of best practices and advises employers of federal, state and local laws "that reaffirm the principle of providing employees with access to restroom facilities based on gender identification."

According to OSHA, "The employee should determine the most appropriate and safest option for him- or herself."

More information: Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers.


Tagged categories: Health and safety; OSHA; Regulations; Workers

Comment from Catherine Brooks, (6/9/2015, 9:45 AM)

Why are there separate men and women's bathrooms anyway? Why not combine the two and save space? All sexual preferences like privacy. Why not design unisex public bathrooms with a row of urinals behind a separate wall and door for men and stalls in all the other areas for both men and women? Long, trench-like sinks (which better catch drips, anyway) are also floor space and maintenance savers. This would also eliminate the frustration women often experience with long waiting lines for their "womens" rooms VS short or no lines for the "mens" rooms.

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