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DOJ pressures university to allow 38-year old man access to women’s restrooms

Photo of Caroline May
Caroline May
Political Reporter

Watch out, you ladies at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith: Those feet under the stall next to you might just belong to a 38-year-old man.

Despite opposition from female students, UAFS has decided on “advice of counsel” to allow a 38-year-old anatomically-male, transgendered student access to the women’s bathrooms on campus.

According to a report from the conservative Campus Reform, the university decided to reverse its transgender policy after receiving a letter from the Department of Justice. The school’s initial solution was to allow the man to use gender-neutral bathrooms instead of the women’s restrooms, and to offer to convert more bathrooms into gender-neutral areas.

“Because of the stance we took, the individual filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Justice,” Mark Horn, vice president of university relations, told Campus Reform.

Jennifer Braly, the 38-year-old male student who was not satisfied with the university’s policy, filed a complaint with the Justice Department and sued.

“I am frustrated and highly depressed about all of these unfair restrictions,” Braly explained in an online appeal for sex-change surgery donations. “I live as a woman full time and have been for a year and a half now. I have natural breast development bigger than some normal girls from the hormone treatment. The only thing restricting me is what’s between my legs. Everyone is so concerned with what’s between my legs. I am just as much woman as anyone else.”

According to Campus Reform’s interview with Horn, it was a letter from the Department of Justice that led to the bathroom policy change that allows Braly to use women’s restrooms.

“[T]he office of civil rights basically made its expectations through the attorney and the decision was made to respond to that direction,” Horn said. “[T]he DOJ complaint caused revisiting of our thinking. … In the eyes of the law, this individual [Braly] is entitled to use the bathroom that she identifies with.”

Neither DOJ nor UAFS have released the letter in question. DOJ explained to Campus Reform that the records “pertain to a currently active Civil Rights Division enforcement and access to the records should therefore be denied pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(7)(A) since disclosure thereof could reasonably be expected to interfere with Civil Rights Division enforcement proceedings.”

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