The ACLU-WA was recently contacted by a transgender woman who experienced discrimination at the Ross Dress for Less in Lynnwood, Washington. While trying on clothes in the women’s dressing room, this woman was interrupted by the store manager, sternly told to put on her “regular clothes,” and loudly and repeatedly instructed to leave the dressing room area immediately. The ACLU-WA contacted Ross’ headquarters to explain that the Lynnwood store manager’s actions clearly violated the Washington Law Against Discrimination.
The Washington Law Against Discrimination forbids discrimination on the basis of “gender expression or identity” in “places of public accommodation,” or places that serve the public, such as stores, restaurants, hotels, and public schools. The law defines “gender expression or identity” as “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.”
Ross, Inc., proved very responsive to our advocacy. The ACLU-WA has learned that the company has taken positive steps to ensure that the rights of transgender persons are not violated in the future—Ross has made clear to its employees that the company’s anti-discrimination policy, which forbids “gender” discrimination, prohibits discrimination against transgender persons on the basis of gender expression or identity. And the company has instructed employees to accommodate customers’ gender indentity when it comes to the use of changing rooms and restrooms.