WOODBURY - Nearly 62 percent of Long Island participants in a recent Hofstra poll said transgender people should be allowed to use the public bathrooms of the sex they identify with.
Lawmakers and courts across the country are wrestling with the question of transgender individuals and public restroom use.
Transgender advocate Julie Grey-Owens says bathroom use has been a civil rights issue in the country for decades.
She says the struggle began in the 1940s when African Americans were forced to use separate facilities. It continued in the 1970s when people with disabilities fought for greater access.
"Now they're using the transgender issue to hold back our civil rights," Grey-Owens says.
A federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, recently ruled that a school board violated the Title IX gender equality law when it blocked Gavin Grimm, a transgender teen, from using the boys' restroom.
In the Hofstra poll, 22 percent of participants said they don’t think transgender individuals should be allowed to use the restroom of the sex they identify with.
Speaking on the overall issue of transgender bathroom use, opponents like Frank Russo, of the American Family Association, say they want bathroom use restricted anyway.
"He's a male, but he thinks he is a woman," Russo says. "To allow him to go into a woman's bathroom or a shower — it's just crazy."
For Grey-Owens, the answer is simple.
"Transgender people are really people," she says. "We are not going to go away, and the reality is you are going to see more and more of us."