Obama Extends Transgender Bathroom Rules to Federal Buildings

REUTERS/LUCY NICHOLSONThe University of California, Irvine installed a gender-neutral bathroom amid the growing issue concerning the liberties of transgender students in U.S. schools.

The Obama administration has ordered 9,000-plus federal buildings across the United States allow biological men into women's bathrooms, locker rooms and showers in order to comply with the administration's interpretation of Title IX law.

On Thursday, the General Services Administration, the agency that oversees about 9,200 buildings operated by the federal government in over 2,000 plus cities across the country, issued a bulletin to clarify the nondiscrimination policy in the Federal Management Regulation for buildings under its jurisdiction and control, such as office buildings and courthouses.

The bulletin, which was posted to the Federal Register, states that individuals must be allowed to use the bathrooms, showers and changing areas consistent with their self-proclaimed gender identity.

In its justification, the bulletin cites the Department of Justice, Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and their extension of the 1972 Title IX provision of the Civil Rights Act to include protections based on gender identity. Additionally, the order cites the The U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which issued a guidance to Federal agencies about the treatment of transgender individuals.

"Federal agencies occupying space under the jurisdiction, custody, or control of GSA must allow individuals to use restroom facilities and related areas consistent with their gender identity," the guidance reads. "As consistent with guidance by DOJ and ED, the self-identification of gender identity by any individual is sufficient to establish which restroom or other single-sex facilities should be used."

The order comes after the Department of Justice and Department of Education sent a significant guidance letter to all public school districts in May, advising them to allow transgender students to have access to bathrooms and locker rooms designated for the opposite biological sex.

The GSA guidance explains that individuals will not be required "to show proof of surgery to be treated in accordance with their gender identity and obtain access to the restroom corresponding with their gender identity."

"Further, Federal agencies may not restrict only transgender individuals to only use single-occupancy restrooms, such as family or accessible facilities open to all genders," the memo continues. "However, Federal agencies may make individual-user options available to all individuals who voluntarily seek additional privacy."

The bulletin adds that federal employers can not side-step the bulletin by requiring transgender individuals to use single-user restrooms.

(Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Drake)A sign protesting a recent North Carolina law restricting transgender bathroom access adorns the bathroom stalls at the 21C Museum Hotel in Durham, North Carolina May 3, 2016. The hotel installed the restroom signage designed by artist Peregrine Honig last month after North Carolina's "bathroom law" gained national attention, positioning the state at the center of a debate over equality, privacy and religious freedom.

The bulletin, however, was not very clear on how the agency plans to enforce this policy as it pertains to non-transgender sexual predators who might try to take advantage of the policy to gain access to bathrooms, showers and locker rooms of the opposite biological sex for their own twisted desires and fantasies.

The bulletin advises people with questions to call Dennis Oden, the director of GSA's Civil Rights Program Division, for more information on the policy. But when the Christian Post called, Oden didn't answer any questions and referred CP to GSA's media relations department. CP could not get answers from the media relations department before press time.

Although the GSA bulletin does not apply to National Parks, a National Parks Service spokesman said in June that facilities operated by the NPS will allow people to use bathrooms and changing areas consistent with their gender identity.

Roger Severino, the director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation, said in a Wednesday briefing with the Christian Post that he suspects a number of lawsuits could result from the GSA guidance if religious accommodations are not given to those who believe it is against their beliefs to undress in front of members of the opposite biological sex.

Accommodating religious beliefs could be costly for the federal government because that could mean installing single-user facilities in buildings across the nation for objectors to use, Severino added.

"That is expensive but that is a way to minimize a conflict, which the administration seems wholly uninterested in pursuing," Severino said. "They would rather just say, 'If you are a woman made uncomfortable by a man in a locker room or shower, get over it.'"

Severino also believes that the GSA guidance could lead down the slippery slope to federal employees one day being forced to affirm their co-workers gender identity.

"A less appreciated aspect of this is that the pronoun issue will follow it. What I mean by that is all federal employees are going to be required to affirm a person's chosen identity," he explained. "So, that means that a person that they have been addressing as 'he' for those 20 years, will be required to address that person as 'she' or they would face disciplinary action for not going along with the affirmation."

"It is complicated by the fact that, at least according to the HHS regulations, a person can be a man, woman, neither, both or some combination of male and female," he continued. "So, what do you address a person? What identifies as some combination of male or female? The burden is going to be on the employees to affirm a person's identity."

As 24 states are suing the Obama administration over the public school transgender guidance, Severino asserts that legal action might be the only way to get a message across to the administration that the American people have not yet approved of its interpretation of Title IX.

One way in which Congress is working to combat the Obama administration's interpretation of Title IX is by the introduction of the Civil Rights Uniformity Act by Rep. Pete Olson, R-Texas, earlier this month

The legislation would ensure that gender identity is not a protected class. The bill also asserts the fact that the U.S. Constitution gives law making authority to the legislative branch and that only the legislative branch can change policies pertaining to social transformation.

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