July 23 (UPI) -- A federal judge in North Carolina approved Tuesday a settlement that will allow transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender to which they identify.
The settlement applies to public restrooms and similar facilities in state government buildings, and clarifies that transgender people can use the restrooms that match their gender identity.
District Judge Thomas Shroeder signed the settlement Tuesday. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and gay rights groups had proposed it.
His signature ends a legal fight that started a few years ago when the state's GOP-controlled General Assembly put restrictions in place through House Bill 2 that only allowed people to use the bathrooms of their biological sex. In 2017, a new law, House Bill 142, removed the requirement that people in government buildings must use bathrooms that match their birth certificates, but challengers said it was still too vague.
"After so many years of managing the anxiety of HB 2 and fighting so hard, I am relieved that we finally have a court order to protect transgender people from being punished under these laws," Joaquin Carcano, a transgender man and UNC-Chapel Hill employee, who is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, said in a statement by Lambda Legal, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights nonprofit organization.
"Using facilities that match one's gender identity is a basic necessity for full participation in society, and this order's confirmation that transgender people can do so is an important victory," said Tara Borelli, an attorney for Lambda Legal.
Still, the settlement has not undone all the outrage, which led to protests over House Bill 2, as the bill also created a statewide non-discrimination policy that excluded transgender people.
"The shameful stain of House Bill 2 and the pain and harm it caused to so many people will always be part of North Carolina's history," Irena Como, acting legal director of the ACLU of North Carolina, said in statement. "LGBTQ North Carolinians still lack comprehensive, statewide nondiscrimination protections while on the job, patronizing a business open to the public, or simply going about their daily lives."
The part of the lawsuit involving workforce protections is on hold while the U.S. Supreme Court addresses issues related to workplace discrimination claims by LGBT people.