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Mainers at Public Hearing Reject Anti-Trans Bathroom Bill

Mainers at Public Hearing Reject Anti-Trans Bathroom Bill

A bill that would prevent transgender Mainers from being able to choose which bathroom they would prefer to use per their gender expression drew stiff opposition at a public Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday.

The bill, proposed by Rep. Kenneth Fedette, R-Newport, would stop transgender people being able to sue for discrimination if a public or private entity forces them to use the restroom that comports with their birth assigned sex rather than their self-defined gender identity or expression.

The Maine Human Rights Commission ruled in several prior cases that trans people have been discriminated against when their rights have been inhibited in this way. Rep. Kenneth Fredette served on the Maine Human Rights Commission when it decided on cases like these concerning Orono schools and an Auburn Denny’s Restaurant. He was a dissenting voice at the time and now wants to make his dissent a state law.

Fredette says a line has to be drawn somewhere, and that there is not an “absolute right” for a transgender person to be able to choose which restroom they use. He is quoted as going straight for the “think of the children” meme: “For example, he said, ‘What situation do we put young children in when they go into a private place and then what they perceive to be the person of the opposite sex comes into that bathroom? That could be quite shocking.’”

While this struck a chord with some at the committee hearing, the majority of people voiced strong opposition to the bill.

From Bangor Daily News:

But Tuesday morning Fredette was by far in the minority. During approximately four hours of public testimony, 30 minutes was taken up by the people supporting Fredette’s bill.

[...]

Wayne Maines was one of the first to speak against the bill.

“Like many of you I doubted transgender children could exist,” he said. “However I never doubted my love for my child.”

Maines’ 13-year-old daughter knew she was a girl at age 6, even though she’d been born a boy, he said. She was happy and her friends accepted her. But by fifth grade things got scary and the family had to “go into hiding” to protect the girl.

“She came to me crying and asked, ‘Daddy, what did I do wrong? Daddy, please fix this.’ That’s what dads do, we fix things. I had to break her heart and say, ‘You have not done anything wrong sweetie, but Mommy and I do not know how to fix this,’” Maines said Tuesday, crying. “This bill places transgender children in a position of doom and hopelessness.”

Several organizations spoke up against the bill saying that it put business owners in the position where they would have to determine the biological sex of customers before allowing them to use restrooms. Should they get it wrong, the said, they may then be liable. This proposal would likely land them in an untenable position, they concluded.

Supporters of the legislation said current law that allows trans people to choose the restroom in line with their gender identity opened up “legal access” for sexual predators so that they could invade female restrooms and prey on women and children. This is an argument that is often used, though opponents of transgender rights omit to say where instances of this kind of abuse have taken place.

Lawmakers have yet to schedule when the bill will next be reviewed.

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Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to brainchildvn.

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15 comments

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2:09PM PDT on Apr 30, 2011

I guess the repukes has still not realized what needs to be done:
Jobs created that will allow people to support themselves and their families!
Affordable and comfortable housing for everyone that needs it!
Healthcare for everyone without the risk of going bankrupt!
And civil and equal rights for all to engage in life, liberty and persuit of happiness!

5:55AM PDT on Apr 24, 2011

The wold is upside down - you are what you are not what you want to be or think you are or feel that you are. You see I have always felt that I am a dog. Should there be special hydrants around for me? Can you point out in any constitution anywhere where this has rights status? Didnt think so

4:11PM PDT on Apr 20, 2011

why does it matter so much which bathroom you use?
it's not like the other people there stare at you, we have a wonderful invention called a "door"

5:50PM PDT on Apr 16, 2011

More malarkey. Why should anyone care if a transgender uses which restroom, what do the people look at each others privates to determine whether they are male or female or trans. Personally I couldn't care less. Unisex restrooms, I can take them or leave them ie: no pref. o¿O

10:58AM PDT on Apr 16, 2011

I could not care less whether what the person in the stall next to me has in his/her jeans matches what s/he has in his/her genes.

12:53AM PDT on Apr 16, 2011

Thanks for the article.

8:46PM PDT on Apr 15, 2011

Do all the sane and sensible people live in the far Northeast?
Could you spare a few for this state?
We could certainly use the help in Arizona...

4:27PM PDT on Apr 15, 2011

Yay for Maine. I wish unisex bathrooms were the norm everywhere. Would save a lot of problems. When I was a kid there were a few times where my dad rather than my mom had to take my brother and I to the bathroom and we wound up in the men's room during those times, even though I am a girl. I didn't care. I was just there to use the toilet. As long as there are still stalls with doors what's the big issue?

2:58PM PDT on Apr 15, 2011

"This is an argument that is often used, though opponents of transgender rights omit to say where instances of this kind of abuse have taken place."

They can't, unless they make them up.

11:31AM PDT on Apr 15, 2011

Fredette needs to go to Madison, Wisconsin where uni-sex restrooms are the norm. Or Germany where there is a woman in most men's rooms, and he will be expected to PAY her! How else to keep the room clean? He is a typical keep-their-behavior-in-line-with-MY-religion repuglican. Damm the reality.

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