With Bruce Jenner and others in the news lately, a hot topic in Illinois law has been transgenders and laws that apply to them.
In Illinois, if you are transgender and get harassed, you do have protections. We’ve been involved in lawsuits for those harassed while working for example. One area where this comes up is in using the bathroom.
Medical experts have stated that it’s very important to the health of a transgender person to be able to use the bathroom of the sex that they identify with. So if you are female but identify as a male, you should be able to use the male bathroom. This is true whether or not you’ve had genital surgery.
It’s also irrelevant if you don’t “look” like a member of the opposite sex. There is no law requiring you to look feminine or masculine in any way. It would be discrimination to set standards like this.
If you do try to use the bathroom and get harassed or have any other harassment from your gender identity, we do have some advice:
1. Stay calm. It’s best for your safety and you don’t want to create a reason that could cause your termination. This of course is easier said than done.
2. Report what happened to a supervisor or owner. Let them know that you are using this specific bathroom because it’s the gender you identify with.
3. If problems still exist or you are retaliated against, call us and we’ll help you find an attorney in Illinois who has experience with these cases.
People are still being educated about transgenders and it’s not uncommon for other co-workers to complain if a transgender person is using their bathroom. They are legally allowed to feel uncomfortable and complain. What the employer should do is accommodate them with an individual restroom. It’s not up to the transgender person to do the accommodating.
This is a new and evolving area of law in Illinois. Very few law firms have real experience with these issues. That’s why we exist as we know which firms have niche experience. If you have questions or want our help you can speak with one of our attorneys for free at (312) 346-5320.