Restrictions lifted on transgender woman’s access


HONOLULU (AP) — A transgender employee of the Hawaii Department of Public Safety received permission to use the restroom of her choice on the job.

Kelli Keawe, 50, an office assistant for the Hawaii Paroling Authority, said she was improperly denied access to women’s restrooms in the building where she worked. She was instead directed to use a single, unmarked restroom, she said.

“All I wanted was to be treated with respect,” she said.

She remains employed with the paroling authority and is attempting to reach a formal agreement with the Public Safety Department on her case.

Keawa had filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Keawe in 2010 also sued the Public Safety Department. A hearing in the case is scheduled before a judge Aug. 20. The state has filed a motion to enforce a settlement agreement.

Keawe last month received a letter from Public Safety Director Ted Sakai informing her that she “may utilize the restroom consistent with your gender identity.”

The response came too late, she said.

“The damage is done,” she said. “I have endured a lot of suffering.”

Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Toni Schwartz said she could not comment on a pending legal matter.

 

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