Transgenders in Washington State to Use Restrooms Based on Identity, Not Anatomy, Commission Rules

A legislative battle over transgender restroom access is brewing in Washington after a state commission enacted rules requiring that bathroom, shower and locker room use in public accommodations be based on “gender identity,” not sex.

State legislators are already working to draft bills in reaction to the Washington State Human Rights Commission’s newly enacted rules, saying the panel overstepped its authority by leaving the Legislature out of such a major change in policy and understanding.

“For the Human Rights Commission to unilaterally make a [Washington Administrative Code] change — they’re not an elected body,” said Republican state Rep. Graham Hunt. “They’re making decisions that widely affect the public although they’re not elected and held accountable to the public in the same fashion.”

The commission took action after an eight-month dispute over transgender access at the YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap counties, which at first allowed and then prohibited opposite-sex use of bathrooms, showers and locker rooms.