The University of Washington, the City of Seattle, and the State of Washington all have non-discrimination policies and laws that include and protect people on the basis of gender identity and expression, as well as sexual orientation.
For more in depth information please access the links below.
Most of this information was accessed and/or adopted from ACLU’s “The Rights of Transgender People in Washington State”
Are there laws/policies that clearly prohibit discrimination against transgender people?
Yes. The State of Washington, the City of Seattle and the University of Washington all have non-discrimination policies that include gender-identity and gender expression, and sexual orientation.
Presidential Orders, Executive Order No. 31: Non-discrimination and Non-Retaliation
“The University of Washington, as an institution established and maintained by the people of the state, is committed to providing equality of opportunity and an environment that fosters respect for all members of the University community. This policy has the goal of promoting an environment that is free of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. To facilitate that goal, the University retains the authority to discipline or take appropriate corrective action for any conduct that is deemed unacceptable or inappropriate, regardless of whether the conduct rises to the level of unlawful discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.
- Prohibits discrimination or harassment against a member of the University community because of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, citizenship, sex, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression,** disability, or military status.
- Prohibits any member of the University community, including, but not limited to, the faculty, staff, or students, from discriminating against or unlawfully harassing a member of the public on any of the above grounds while engaged in activities directly related to the nature of their University affiliation.
- Prohibits retaliation against any individual who reports concerns regarding discrimination or harassment, or who cooperates with or participates in any investigation of allegations of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.”
** As used in this definition, gender expression or identity means having or being perceived to have a gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior, or expression, whether or not that gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior, or expression is different from that traditionally associated with the sex assigned to that person at birth.
In 2006, the State of Washington enacted the landmark Anderson-Murray Antidiscrimination Law to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people from discrimination through the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) (RCW 49.60). WLAD protects people from discrimination based on sexual orientation,** which is inclusive of gender expression or actual or perceived gender identity in these areas:
- Places of public accommodation (i.e., places that serve the public), including restaurants, hotels, and public schools;
- Housing, including the renting, buying, and selling of homes;
- Employment, specifically in state, municipal, and private workplaces with eight or more employees;
- The extension of credit; and
- Insurance transactions.
Further the City of Seattle and King County has passed their own laws prohibiting discrimination based on gender expression or identity, barring discrimination in places of public accommodation, housing, employment, and education.
Who enforces the Washington Law Against Discrimination?
Charged with enforcing the WLAD, the Washington State Human Rights Commission (HRC) works to prevent and eliminate discrimination by investigating civil rights complaints and providing education and training opportunities throughout Washington. For information on how to file a formal complaint with the HRC, reference the next section, or visit http://www.hum.wa.gov/ComplaintProcess/Index.html or call 1-800-233-3247.
Does the law protect a transgender person’s right to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity?
It remains somewhat unclear. In 1993, the highest court in Washington upheld the right of an employer to prohibit a transgender employee from using the restroom consistent with her gender identity until after she had undergone sex reassignment surgery. A court might rule differently if such a case arose today. We now have a state law—the WLAD—that specifically protects against discrimination in employment and places of public accommodation based on one’s gender expression or identity. Moreover, the Washington State Human Rights Commission (HRC)—the organization responsible for enforcing the WLAD—publicly supports the right of transgender persons to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity.
What is the complaint procedure at UW if I have been discriminated against?
If you feel comfortable, the Q Center welcomes any student to come talk to our Director or any other Q staff member to discuss their concerns about discrimination.