The Obama administration announced on Wednesday that the White House now has a gender-neutral restroom right next to the West Wing. Staff and visitors will be allowed to use the new gender-neutral facility.
The announcement is both historic and also a symbolic move that sends a signal to public officials in Florida, Texas, and Kentucky that are considering proposals that would outlaw transgender people using the bathroom of their choice.
“It is heartening that, even if legislators in some states are attacking the dignity and humanity of transgender and gender non-conforming people,” Keisling said.
“At least the White House is still moving in the direction of dignity and common sense,” Mara Keisling, director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said in a statement.
An Obama executive order that bans discrimination against LGBT employees of companies that contract with the federal government also went into effect Wednesday. (Federal employees have had the right to use facilities consistent with their gender identity since 2011.)
In an op-ed published in the Advocate Tuesday, President Obama’s Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett said “the president is determined to lead by example.”
“[President Obama] has hired more openly LGBT Americans to serve in his administration than any other in history. And 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."