McDonald’s surprising pro-transgender bathroom policy

A Washington franchise has made it official policy to provide "safe and dignified" bathroom access for all

Topics: LGBT, LGBTQ, LGBT Rights, transgender rights, , ,

A Detroit-area McDonald’s recently found itself in legal trouble after falsely claiming its menu items were halal, and New York City employees of the fast food chain went on strike last month to demand a living wage, but a franchise in Washington state is grabbing headlines for actually doing something right: Providing safe, guaranteed access to bathroom facilities regardless of a person’s gender identity or expression.

A Reddit user shared a photo of a Seattle McDonald’s bathroom sign, announcing:

We respect the rights of all customers and employees. We believe all people must have access to safe and dignified bathroom facilities regardless of their gender identity or expression. Therefore, the following policy has been adopted for this restaurant at 1530 3rd Avenue … Employees and customers may use any restroom that corresponds with and is based upon the gender identity they publicly and exclusively assert or express.

The notice is seven years old, but David Santillanes, the current owner and operator of the franchise, said that the bathroom policy is an extension of how he hopes to treat all employees and customers: “Making sure my employees and customers are treated with dignity and respect is a priority for me,” he told the Huffington Post in an email. “This notice reaffirms my commitment to my employees and customers and underscores my restaurant’s compliance with applicable law.”

Area franchises make their own policies, and the bathroom notice doesn’t reflect the company’s overall position on transgender rights, according to a McDonald’s spokesperson. But they are supportive of the local policy (at least they are now, while it gets them good press):

“This specific decision was made by one of our franchisees for his restaurant,” U.S. Media Relations Manager Ofelia Casillas told HuffPost in an email on Wednesday. But, she added, all Golden Arches stand for equal rights.

“At McDonald’s, we respect and value everyone,” she added. “We have a strict policy prohibiting any form of discrimination in our restaurants. We recognize and appreciate individuals’ rights and require all our restaurants to follow local, state and federal laws.”



Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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