Denny’s Implementing Trans-Friendly Restroom Policy

Denny’s restaurants in Maine have announced they will now implement a trans-friendly restroom policy.

This comes following a legal complaint made by a trans customer who had been denied the right to use the restroom facilities that matched her gender identity. Denny’s defended this on the grounds that she was not biologically female and had not at the time had gender change surgery.

The courts, however, did not agree that this was an acceptable standard when viewed with Maine’s existing anti-discrimination laws.

More from the Gay and Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) press release:

In a March 23, 2011 settlement agreement, Realty Resources Hospitality, which operates 6 Denny’s restaurants in Maine, agreed that at all of the restaurants it operates, all transgender individuals, including Ms. Freeman, will be given access to the restroom consistent with their stated gender identity.

GLAD filed suit October 20, 2009, on behalf of Brianna Freeman, a transgender woman who was told by the manager of a local Denny’s that she could not use the women’s restroom. Denny’s moved to dismiss the case, arguing that it could apply a so-called biological rule to keep transgender women from using the gender appropriate restroom.

In its May 27, 2010 ruling, Androscoggin Superior Court denied Denny’s motion to dismiss Brianna’s gender identity claim. The Court’s critical, first-of-its-kind ruling affirmed that Maine’s law protecting transgender persons from discrimination includes ensuring appropriate access to restrooms. This was an important first step in guaranteeing that transgender people have full protections under Maine law.

On February 22, 2011 GLAD argued for summary judgment in the case, seeking a final order allowing Brianna — and other transgender Maine residents — fair and equal access to the appropriate restroom.

The new policy applies to all Denny’s restaurants in Maine.

Speaking to the Sun Journal, Denny’s owners appeared to accept the ruling and had this to say:

According to Brian Mesley, a spokesman for Rockport-based Realty Resources Hospitality, “we recognize and support Ms. Freeman’s gender transition over the past three and a half years.”

“Her transition and this lawsuit presented a new issue for us,” he said, and “we believe the resolution in this case will work well for all of our customers and preserved the dignity and safety of all.”

Rep. Ken Fredette, R-Newport, tried unsuccessfully to roll-back trans protections to allow schools and businesses to decide who should be able to use their restroom facilities, saying there was no “absolute” right for trans people to use the restroom that comports with their gender identity.

This move was soundly defeated by both the chambers of the Maine Legislature that overwhelmingly rejected the legislation as discriminatory.


Related Reading:
Maine Next Hope for Gay Marriage?
Maine Legislature Defeats Attack on Transgender Rights
Mainers at Public Hearing Reject Anti-Trans Bathroom Bill

Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to -Marlith-.


Carolyn B.
Carolyn R4 years ago

Thanks Kristina J, good to know. I had thought I was being polite by always treating a person as the gender they present. I know it's hard to deal with annoying bigots who make a big deal out of gender - people give my little girl a lot of irritation because she doesn't want to project any gender, she doesn't feel like her gender is anyone's dang business. When people ask if she's a boy or a girl she sometimes says "You sure are interested in kids genitals huh? That's weird." A lesbian friend of mine - she dresses in a causal gender non-specific style but is obviously female - says people "mistake" her for a man frequently and give her a hard time around the bathroom. We debate about whether they are deliberately being jerks (my view) or are simply very stupid (her view ). People really do need to mind their own business.

Kristina J.
Kristina J4 years ago

............ convenient for parents with young children, as well as disabled people, as they are almost always wheelchair friendly. They are also very convenient for trans people, and they are often more clean than the regular restrooms.

Kristina J.
Kristina J4 years ago


Kristina J.
Kristina J4 years ago

Carolyn, the majority of transgender people want nothing more than to simply be accepted by society as a member of the gender they present and identify as. To force them all into unisex restrooms is just as discriminatory and marginalizing as to deny them the right to choose. However, there are a small number of trans people who do not identify as either gender, so offering a unisex restroom is the ideal situation. For many trans people who are either just starting out, or for some biological reason, have a difficult time being accepted in their identifying gender, having the option of a unisex restroom could quite literally be a lifesaver, as well as an incredible convenience. There are many trans people who are too afraid to use any public restroom at all, and many more who still have to overcome some fear when they do use it.

One solution is to make all the restrooms a single person, unisex restroom. While this works great in small stores and gas stations, it is not practical or cost effective if you need more than two or three stalls. The simple solution to this is to merely offer one or two single person/unisex restrooms along with the M/F restrooms. There are many bigots who will never be willing to spend a single dime on 'catering' to trans people, so using this as a selling point may not be the best approach. A much better selling point is that these are already widely in use, and marked as 'family' restrooms. In addition to being unisex, they are also very conv

Carolyn B.
Carolyn R4 years ago

I'd like to hear more from the trans community about what's the most sensitive and appropriate way to handle this. My co-op had a letter this month about this same issue - not someone being denied the right to the appropriate bathroom, but that gender specific bathrooms make life difficult for trans people. Gender can be a confusing and tricky thing for all of us. In a practical sense, I thin in the USA we tend to have male and female bathrooms because so many men act like jerks, harass females, pee all over the place, crap in the sinks, and generally tear stuff up. Many women would rather wait in a longer line than have to deal with goofy male behavior in the can. Are unisex bathrooms the preferred choice for trans folks? This is a good place to speak up about it, many of us want to do everything to make you feel more safe, comfortable, and included.

Glenn Long
Glenn Long4 years ago

I can add Maine to my list of places I'm not afraid of. Yay, Maine!
Also, Casey D: you're awesome.

Casey D.
Casey D.5 years ago

(continued comment from below)

Some folks have expressed concern that people with mental health problems may try to dress as the opposite gender to gain access to a bathroom, and attack others. People who have problems of this nature would probably not go to all this trouble to attack someone. If they want to go into a bathroom and hurt people, they will do it without worrying about their clothing. Attacking people in this way means that the attacker will almost certainly be caught. In every Denny's I've had the misfortune of patronizing, the restrooms were centrally located. If a person is willing to attack others in that setting, it's not logical to think that they will shop for the occasion first.

As a woman, I think our public restrooms should be shared with all women.

Casey D.
Casey D.5 years ago

Just a few things to consider: transgender people are not confused. They are transgender, which means the bodies they were born with don't match their natural gender. Please consider how that might feel, and the difficult choices transgender people face every day of their lives. When you say hatful things, make claims that transgender folks are sick, unnatural, confused, or selfish - remember that gender identity begins in childhood. When you say hateful things about the transgender community, you're saying hateful things not just to adults, but to children too. Transgender children who already have far more worries about who will accept them, who will reject them, and who might try to hurt them than other types of people.

It's not about something as silly as which gender makes messes in restrooms. All people make messes in public restrooms. If you don't know that, you have never used a public restroom and should not be commenting on this story.

Also, please don't minimize this by calling it that 90's term, 'political correctness'. This is about whether we choose to humanize, or dehumanize, an entire community of human beings who routinely suffer abuse, harassment, and murder. It's really disrespectful to brush off these issues as something simplistic. We're talking about human beings here, and they deserve to be heard and accepted into society like everyone else.

Some folks have expressed concern that people with mental health problems may try to dr

Angela Burrow
Angela Burrow5 years ago

For all of those terrified about sharing toilet facilities with trans people, they are more terrified of you than you are of them, with good reason. Trans people are more at risk of assault than any other sector of society, a minimum of 1 is murdered every 3 days worldwide (minimum because many of the victims are not listed as trans), many are attacked but not killed every day.

If you want to read further into this, look at the prelimiary report of the Trans Murder Monitoring Prject reported by Liminalis, the Wiki page entitled "Unlawfully killed Transgender people" and also Remembering our Dead, a site dedicated to trans murder victims Read some of the stories on the last 2 sites, and you'll soon be in tears. A trans person tends not to have a quick death, but a long, protracted, agonising one.

A T.
Allena Tyrrell5 years ago

People whos real idntity is the oppossite from that percieved at birth, cannot use the same facilities as the rest of us. To do a pooh, or a pee, in peace, some of the people on this site are real bigots. In actual fact they are more likely to get attacked by both men and women, go and have a look at

Not everyone is born excatly male and female, this is well known throughout history, and is well documented. They were put in concentration camps to die, by the Nazis, so as to create the perfect man by genetic engineering.

Why are some of these comments, just about their personal feelings, since when do we have a problem, where transgender people attack us?