Just months after Miami-Dade County made history by amending its Human Rights Ordinance to include basic protections for transgender citizens, a Miami Republican has filed a bill in the Florida House that would ban transgender people across the state from their preferred public bathrooms, locker rooms, and dressing rooms, forcing them to use the facilities reserved for the sex with which they were assigned at birth.
The Single-Sex Public Facilities Act is the handwork of Rep. Frank Artiles.
Here's the meat of the law:
"Single-Sex Public Facilities: Requires that use of single-sex facilities be restricted to persons of sex for which facility is designated; prohibits knowingly & willfully entering single-sex public facility designated for or restricted to persons of other biological sex; provides exemptions; provides private cause of action against violators; provides for preemption."
Mind you, this isn't a law that protects business owners or organizations from enforcing such a policy. This mandates it everywhere and would make it a misdemeanor crime for a transgender woman to enter a women's bathroom, for example.
The law provides no exemptions, even for LGBT-friendly businesses and organizations. In fact, the law states that any organization providing single-sex bathrooms that "advertises, promotes, or encourages use of those facilities" by someone who was not born of that sex could be sued in civil court.
So technically, a transgender man using the men's bathroom at a transgender resource center would be breaking the law, and that center could be sued for letting him do so.
So could a transgender women trying on a dress in a fitting room in the women's section of a department store. Instead, she'd be forced to try the dress on in the men's fitting rooms. The law makes no exemptions for anyone based on the status of their transition, or even if they've had their sex legally changed on identifying documents. If your gender doesn't match the sex listed on your birth certificate, you could be breaking the law by using your preferred facilities.
Heck, even a cisgender woman who's waiting in a long line to use a women's bathroom and notices the men's room is empty and decides to brave it, well, yes, she'd be committing a crime as well.
The only way around the law is to provide single-occupancy bathrooms or explicitly unisex bathrooms.
Violators could be punished with a fine up to $1,000 or a year in jail.
"This absurd legislation targets the transgender community and seeks to dehumanize us by preventing access to facilities in public spaces," Gina Duncan, transgender inclusion director at Equality Florida, wrote in an email. "The Transgender Discrimination Bill is mean-spirited and underscores the vital work we are doing to pass a statewide non-discrimination law that protects our community in employment, housing, and public accommodations."
Follow Kyle Munzenrieder on Twitter @Munzenrieder
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