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Walgreens locations nationwide have adopted a new policy allowing customers to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity. It’s the result of an incident in which a cis woman said an employee mistook her gender identity and would only allow her to use the men’s restroom.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Jessie Meehan spent $20 at a Walgreens in Los Angeles last year, but was told by an associate that she couldn’t use the women’s restroom because she looked like a man. Meehan said she argued with a manager for several minutes before conceding and using the stall in the men’s restroom, while men used the urinals next to her.
“This in itself was very humiliating for me and I felt extremely uncomfortable,” Meehan told Walgreens in a letter, including suggestions and an offer to help train staff.
She turned to the ACLU for help two months later when she received no answer. Meehan didn’t sue the company, so upon hearing about the incident, Walgreens changed its restroom policy, updating it for transgender inclusion to comply with California law, which states it protects “every person’s right to access restrooms based on their gender identity in workplaces, schools and business establishments.”
ACLU staff attorney Amanda Goad said bathroom gender discrimination is not only a transgender issue, and that it’s common for women who are perceived to be gender-nonconforming to be questioned on their way to the bathroom.
Meehan told the Times she still takes issue with the policy because it’s labeled as a “transgender inclusion” guideline, and doesn’t address how employees should react in situations similar to hers, but called it “a good first step.”