The chain announced its new policy on November 21st, but it has now come to light after the Los Angeles Times ran a feature on Jessie Meehan, a cisgender woman who claims Walgreens had discriminated against her in June 2017 after a store associate told her she could not use the women's restroom because she looked like a man. Meehan, who is not transgender, had just spent about $20 in the store after she had stopped at the Hollywood Walgreens on her way to the LGBTQ Pride festival.
Meehan argued with the store manager for several minutes, but because she was in a rush at the time, she used the men’s restroom instead of continuing to put up a fight. She instead wrote an email to the company explaining how the experience was humiliating for her and that she felt extremely uncomfortable.
While at the LGBTQ Pride festival, she happened to find a booth for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, who would later come to her aid after she didn't hear back from the company after sending them a letter about her experience and offering her help to assist in training their employees to be more inclusive. ACLU staff attorney Amanda Goad sent a letter to Walgreens reminding them of California law, "which protects every person's right to access restrooms based on their gender identity in workplaces, schools, and business establishments."
Upon hearing what had happened to Meehan, Walgreens adopted a new inclusive restroom policy across all of its 8,100 stores and issued a memorandum to all of its employees. The document provides definitions for common terms such as transgender, transition, gender identity, gender presentation, and sexual orientation while clearly stating, ‘All individuals have a right to use restroom facilities that correspond to the individual's gender identity, regardless of the individual's sex assigned at birth.”
In a video created by the ACLU, Meehan said that she was a supporter of Walgreens because they always had strong LGBTQ+ policies, and that she was surprised by the experience she had. Meehan also said she has been misgendered as male for most of her life, but this time she decided to do something about it.
Walgreens’ new gender inclusive restroom policy is now nationwide across all of its stores.
Watch the ACLU of Southern California’s video featuring Meehan’s story below.