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Transgender Told To Use Unisex Bathroom At Work, Moves To Sue

(REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

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Amber Randall Civil Rights Reporter
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A transgender employee at the Iowa Women’s Prison filed a complaint Thursday that she is being discriminated against because she can’t use the restroom according to her “gender identity.”

Jesse Vroegh, a nurse who transitioned from female to male, filed a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission because she cannot use the male locker rooms and bathrooms at work, reports Iowa Public Radio. Vroegh is allowed to unisex restrooms and locker rooms.

“Rather than setting a good example for other Iowa employers, the state has denied me the use of gendered spaces as well as the health insurance coverage I need simply because I am transgender,” Vroegh said in a statement.

American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa attorneys who are representing Vroegh along with the ACLU LGBT Project and attorney Melissa Hasso claim that Vroegh’s rights are being violated. They say that denying Vroegh the right to use the men’s bathroom violates the non-discrimination policy of employment in the Iowa Civil Rights Act. They also argue that it violates her equal protection under Iowa’s constitution.

Fred Scaletta, the corrections department spokesman, could not comment on Vroegh’s specific case, but said in a statement that “the department strongly focuses to protect and treat with respect the public, staff and offenders.”

According to Rita Bettis, the legal director of the ACLU of Iowa, Vroegh’s complaint also includes Insurer Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield because they are “discriminating in the coverage plans it has provided to state of Iowa employees.”

“I don’t want different treatment. I just want the same treatment and facilities as every other employee,” Vroegh said at an ACLU press conference.

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