White House Unveils Its First Gender-Neutral Bathroom

Apr 09, 2015 at 7:59 AM ET

The Obama administration has introduced at least one gender-neutral restroom in its own offices in a move being lauded by transgender advocates.

As the White House bolstered its commitment to gay and transgender rights by supporting efforts to ban controversial conversion therapies Wednesday, spokesperson Jeff Tiller also revealed that the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which houses the majority of the president and vice-president’s staff, now has its first gender-neutral restroom.

“The White House allows staff and guests to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity,” he said in a statement to the Advocate, “which is in keeping with the administration’s existing legal guidance on this issue and consistent with what is required by the executive order that took effect today for federal contractors.”

Tiller’s announcement landed on the same day that President Obama’s senior advisor, Valerie Jarrett, penned an op-ed for the Advocate, explaining how the aforementioned executive order will protect employees from discrimination.

“We have closely examined our internal policies on everything from benefits, to restroom access, to how we invite people to events, to ensure that everyone who enters this building feels safe and fully respected,” she says.

White House support comes in the wake of several attempts by states to make it a crime for transgender people to use bathrooms that match their gender identities. Florida, Missouri, Kentucky and Texas have introduced bills that seek to limit the rights of trans individuals.

Since 2011, Federal employees have had the legal right to use bathrooms of their choosing.​ However, vocal support of gender-neutral restrooms, in addition to existing laws, show that the Obama administration is making a stronger push for transgender rights.

“It is heartening to see that, even if legislators in some states are attacking the dignity and humanity of transgender and gender non-conforming people, at least the White House is still moving in the direction of dignity and common sense,” says the National Center for Transgender Equality’s Executive Director, Mara Keisling.

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