Single Sex Facilities: Battleground and Opportunity

Today marks a pivotal fight in the restroom wars.  This morning, we will ask a federal judge to suspend North Carolina’s hateful anti-transgender law, known as HB2, which requires transgender people in all public buildings to use restrooms that accord with the gender on their birth certificate, regardless of their gender identity.  Simply put, the law bars transgender people from participation in public life. 

For our client, Joaquín Carcaño, a project coordinator at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, HB2 means he can’t use the men’s room at work.  As a man, Joaquin can’t use the women’s room without causing confusion and consternation among the women there, as well as undermining his very identity.  But because he is transgender and lives in North Carolina, HB2 requires that he use a restroom that matches his birth certificate – the female restroom. So, like many other transgender people, Joaquin avoids drinking liquids during the day so he doesn’t have to pee at work.  Imagine trying to do that. 

Joaquín is one of several plaintiffs in Carcaño v. McCrory, the legal challenge to HB2 brought by the ACLU, the ACLU of North Carolina, and Lambda Legal.   Today the judge hears argument on our motion for a preliminary injunction, and trial is set for November. 

The restroom debates are not just a battleground for the LGBT movement, they are an opportunity.  For a long time, LGBT advocates avoided conversations about single-sex spaces.  But we must engage America about restrooms if we’re going to make progress on protecting transgender people from discrimination. This is our chance to explain to the country who transgender people are, why restroom restrictions bar them from full participation in public life, and how no privacy or safety interests are violated in the process.  That’s where Joaquín and his fellow plaintiffs come in – they can humanize this issue and help people get the problem. 

The ACLU is fighting the restroom wars on several fronts.  Earlier this year, we helped defeat over 40 anti-trans restroom bills in state legislatures.  We are working to educate the country about the issue.  And we are suing, not just in Carcaño, but in these other cases as well: 

  • GG v. Gloucester County School Board – The ACLU represents Gavin Grimm, who is about to start his senior year in high school in Gloucester, Virginia.  The school board barred him from using the men’s room, but a federal appeals court ruled in April that the exclusion violates federal sex discrimination law.  The school board is asking the Supreme Court to review the case, and we’ll find out this fall whether it does.
  • Students and Parents for Privacy v. U.S. Dep’t of Education – The ACLU represents Student A, a girl attending high school in suburban Chicago.  Because she is transgender, the school refused to let her use the girls’ locker room with the rest of her sports team.  In response to our complaint, the U.S. Department of Education ordered that Student A have access to the locker room, but then a group of students and parents have sued the district, arguing that their privacy rights have been violated. 
  • Jesse Vroegh v. State of IowaJesse Vroegh has worked as a nurse at an Iowa prison for seven years.  The prison has refused to let him use the men’s restroom or to cover his medically necessary transition-related health care, so Jesse, with help from the ACLU, has filed a complaint of gender identity discrimination before the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. 
  • Texas v. United States – Officials in 11 states, led by Texas, have sued the U.S. Department of Education over its guidance that school districts should allow transgender students to use single-sex facilities consistent with their gender identity.  The ACLU and several other LGBT advocacy groups have filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the Department of Education. 

This conversation is just starting in earnest, but it’s already headed in a good direction.  And it’s essential for reaching full equality for transgender people and, more broadly, for the entire LGBT community.

View comments (9)
Read the Terms of Use


There is something wrong with a man thinking he is a woman or a woman thinking she is a man. It is mutilation with dangerous hormones. Most transexuals were sexually abused in childhood which messed up their minds and transexuals sexually abuse children. Transexuals are mutilated gays and lesbians. I don’t care what others say but mutilating a man or woman to make them fake members of opposite sex is gay/lesbian. And gay/lesbian groups are apologists for Transexuals which is why the word T is there. They must abolish this surgical mutilation.

All transexuals are homosexual/lesbian as the act of mutilating to become false opposite sex is itself an act of homosexuality/lesbianism-sad maiming and make this illegal. Finally, sex change maimings which is mutilating some1 to make them fake members of opposite sex is comparable to trying to make a man a fake animal because he thinks he is an animal trapped in a human body. Most feminists are not speaking against this. 1 would hope that feminists would oppose the mutilation that happened to Chastity Sun Bono as feminists have spoken against Female Genital Mutilation which happens in some nations. Transexuals are mutilations which no Dr. should take part in, yet most feminists are not condemning this female genital and breast mutilation as what happened to Chastity S. Bono where her healthy breasts were mutilated, dangerous hormone shots and her genitals mutilated.


This entire comment is absurd and ignorant.


I am not religious because among other things, if there's a God, then why do bad things happen in world I don't care about the gay/lesbian marriage topic which law allows and admit information war by my side was lost on homosexuality, when topic mainly became about the boring gay marriage topic and only once in a while about homosexuality's risks. Truth about homosexuality's dangers don't change and truth must be told though information war is lost. Homosexual/lesbian conduct is bad for health like tobacco & needs to be treated like tobacco use by adults. If willing & knowing adults want to use tobacco or do gay/lesbian conduct, then that's their life, but it must be treated as harmful like tobacco is. I know what APA, mainstream psychologists & psychiatrists say about gay/lesbian conduct, but they are ideologues. I think that they must make it a crime to do sex changes.

I have thought about this & don't think any1 can rebut conclusion that childhood sex abuse victims of gay/lesbian pedophiles have more risk of turning out gay/lesbian by copying the conduct they learned because think you know that conduct incl. sexual conduct can be learned. Think you know it is possible for people who are victims of same sex molestation (such as victims of gay pedophile priests) to copy this sexual conduct and do gay conduct in adulthood incl. turn out to be gay pedophiles.

Austin Polk

What in the world are you talking about? Homosexuality is not harmful; there is no evidence to the contrary and your tangent about childhood gay molestation increasing the likelihood of people becoming gay themselves going on adulthood, confirms that you are a lunatic.


Hello guys, You can buy Sex Toys here at our store is located in Makati Ave. In Front of A-venue Mall. The Philippine Leading Sex Toys Store.


Why are my daughter's rights ok to violate by a boy dressed as a girl?


I, like any natural girl or woman, am entitled to single-sex privacy. It's one thing to feel like something, and another thing to be what you are. No man can tell me what it is to be a woman. The same chromosomes don't run through our bodies. A trans will never know what a painful monthly is like, throwing up, hiding in the refuge of the ladies room, because you don't feel well, worrying about your clothing. does it show, did I mess them up.
Then think about menoause. The last thing you want is the energy or penis of a man around. No, we are not the same and never will be. You will not violate us and our rights to privacy.


Single-sex is her right to privacy. No. He has no right to violate her.


The change of sex affects both men and women. This is a very common practice in all countries when you feel different to the sex you have. I sincerely favor that people can choose the sex they want. The other day I was chatting webcam with a girl who had a sex change operation and she was telling me that she is now a happy person and feels like a woman.

Stay Informed