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Transgender Toilet Access Under Attack In Gainesville

Transgender Toilet Access Under Attack In Gainesville

In Gainesville, Florida, a protective measure passed last year that allows transgender people to use both male and female restrooms as to their own identified gender has come under attack in a hard-hitting TV ad campaign.

Commissioners voted a 4-3 majority on the provision which was added to the city’s anti-discrimination law in 2008 and allowed Gainseville’s one hundred transgender residents to pick whichever facility they felt better about using.

Opponents to the measure will have their chance to repeal the measure on the 24th of March when it will go to a referendum ballot after a group of conservatives called the Citizens for Good Public Policy gathered enough signatures to appeal the measure. However, their attacks, which come in a usually gay friendly city, have already begun with a sinister television ad.

The Content of the Anti-Transgender Access Ad
A normal day. A run-of-the-mill playground, and a blond little girl who heads off toward the lady’s restroom. Outside an unshaven, baseball cap-wearing man watches the girl enter and then walks in some time after her. A caption is then run across the screen: “On January 28th 2008 Your City Commission Made This Legal.”

You can watch the ad here.

It is unclear, exactly, what the campaign is saying. The man going into the toilets certainly didn’t look like your average transgender person to me. In fact, if anything, he looked like a washed up baseball player, but let us not quibble over casting. The seeming implication to the Citizens for Good Public Policy video is that, in allowing a transgender person to use the facilities of either sex, you have made children vulnerable to sexual predators.

It isn’t much of a leap to consider that they are also implying that transgender people themselves could be the aforementioned sexual predators, and whilst the ad isn’t implicit in this statement, it certainly doesn’t do anything to dissuade from this position either.

Since the provision came into effect, there have been no such reported incidents. However, opponents have said that, whilst the rights of transgender people to use whichever restroom they feel represents them have been increased, the rights of a child to be protected have been reduced.

‘You are trying to operate in a realm you do not have the authority to operate in,” George Brantley, pastor, told the Commission, as slogans and street campaigners have started brandishing signs saying “Keep men out of women’s toilets.”

Cain Davis, the chairman of Citizens for Good Public Policy, said, “We know when men go into women’s restrooms, bad things can happen,” and that it was his groups duty to protect people from a “government gone wild”.

Spokespeople for the Commission say that the ad has “grossly distorted” the measure.

The Wording of the Transgender Measure
The measure separates the ideas of “gender identity” and “gender”, giving it its own protective class. A draft version of the ordinance was seen to define gender identity as:

“…an inner sense of being a specific gender, or the expression of a gender identity by verbal statement, appearance, or mannerisms, or other gender-related characteristics of an individual with or without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth.”

How one could possibly enforce this measure and the necessitated vagueness of its criteria seems difficult at best, and this plays into the hands of organizations like Citizens for Good Public Policy, because, as much as it does protect the rights of transgender people, it does, at least partially, create a legal minefield and opportunities for abuse.

Many transgender people have responded desperately to this debate, just wanting a place to relieve themselves without threat of violence or abuse, whilst some continue to avoid public restrooms altogether with this fear very much at the forefront of their minds.

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Photo used under the creative commons attribution license with kind permission from bcostin.

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3 comments

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10:18PM PDT on Apr 26, 2011

I really wish people could get past the gender binary idea. I know lots of trans people, mostly transwomen, and have no issue using the same washroom with them or seeing them in the presence of children. Many of them have children themselves, and are parents just like any other parents you know. I am always pleased to see places with non-gendered washrooms, and I make note of them to go back with my trans friends so we can hang out in places where they have more chance of feeling comfortable. I am also quite happy to accompany friends to the washrooms when they are gendered, in case anyone gives them trouble.

9:24PM PDT on Apr 25, 2011

Well,the trannnies should take everything into consideration before they leave their cribs.They need to use the bathroom at a filling station or tote a portable urinal jug.They can't expect normal people to accomodate them & let them enter into their toilets,especially not knowing what kinda package they're hiding,or not knowing what's going thru their confused minds.

2:48PM PST on Dec 15, 2009

This is intolerant garbage. They are just trying to equate transpeople with sex offenders and get knee-jerk support from sex crime obsessed Americans.

Would any actual predator really not follow a child into a bathroom due to this law? Are children immune to assault or kidnapping by their own sex? This has nothing to do with sexual predators, they just want to enforce their view on to everyone else.

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Steve Williams Steve Williams is a passionate supporter of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) rights, human... more
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