Restroom signs at Charlotte airport

(Photo : Francesco Mucio / Flickr / CC) A photo of restroom signs at Charlotte airport taken in 2009.

Washington state passed a new policy requiring buildings to allow transgender individuals to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of the gender that they identify with, the Associated Press reports. The policy went into effect on December 26.

"All covered entities, except school districts or other primary and secondary schools, shall allow individuals the use of gender-segregated facilities, such as restrooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms, and homeless shelters, that are consistent with that individual's gender identity," states the policy proposal text created by the Washington State Human Rights Commission.

"In such facilities where undressing in the presence of others occurs, covered entities ... shall allow access to and use of a facility consistent with that individual's gender identity," it continues.

The Daily Signal reports that the policy applies to businesses with eight or more employees.

Though the policy proposal draft stated that schools should "assess the use of locker rooms by transgendered students on a case-by-case basis," this text was removed in the final draft, according to reports.

"Transgender people are already living and working in Washington State, and we think they should be treated with dignity and respect like everybody else," Margaret Chen, an attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Associated Press. Chen and supporters of the policy state that it clarifies already existent non-discrimination policies in the state.

However, opponents of the policy voice concerns of potential abuse that could arise from such a law.

"I've received emails from folks who have been abused and taken advantage of in intimate private settings because someone had access to a facility that they shouldn't have," Representative Graham Hunt of Washington (R) told The Daily Signal.

"I don't believe that most people who are transgender are trying to gain access for the wrong reasons," he continued. "But we have to be careful for and what we have to prepare for are those who are going to take advantage of these rules."

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