In a small but
significant victory for transgender rights, the
Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund announced
Monday that it has reached an agreement with the
Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York City
that allows people to use MTA public restrooms in
accordance with their gender expression.
arose from a complaint filed by the TLDEF and the New York
City Commission on Human Rights on behalf of Helena Stone,
70, a transgender woman who had been arrested and
continually harassed by MTA police officers due to her
Stone had been
assigned to repair pay telephones at Grand Central station
in 2005 by her employer, Verizon. MTA police arrested
her three times--twice in 2005,
in September and December, and once more in
January of this year--when surveillance footage
showed her entering the women's restroom.
dropped all criminal charges after a TLDEF-organized protest
rally, but no steps were taken to ensure there would be no
further harassment of Stone or any other transgender
person. TLDEF then requested an injunction to bar MTA
from continuing to violate Stone's rights as outlined
in the New York City Human Rights Law, which forbids
discrimination against transgender people.
As part of the
final settlement, MTA agreed to allow people to choose the
restroom most consistent with their gender expression,
implement gender sensitivity and training programs for
MTA employees, and pay $2,000 in damages to Stone.
"I only wanted to
go to work and live my life as who I am," said Stone
in response to her legal victory. (The