A bill that would ban transgender people from using their preferred public bathrooms has now made its way through its second committee, but not without some changes. The bill has been amended to make an exception for some transgender people who have legally changed their gender on government documentation. In essence, it means transgender people would need to have their papers on them to pee.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Frank Artiles, a Miami Republican, after the Miami-Dade County Commission passed an ordinance that added gender identity and presentation to the county's Human Rights Ordinance, effectively banning discrimination against transgender people in areas of housing, employment, and, yes, accommodations such as public restrooms, fitting rooms, and locker rooms. Artiles claims that the ordinance would prevent male sex offenders and other perverted, unsavory characters from entering women's bathrooms and that it's a matter of public safety.
Of course, no such incidents have been reported in Miami-Dade since the ordinance took effect and are almost unheard of in other states and municipalities that have passed protections for transgender individuals.
Artiles' bill was so wide that even private businesses and organizations would not be allowed to let transgender people use their preferred bathrooms. In fact, the bill would allow citizens to sue such businesses. Even a transgender resource center would be required to follow the law. Individuals who broke the law could face a year in jail or a $1,000 fine.
Well, now Artiles' bill has been changed.
Originally the bill read that "'sex' meant a person's biological sex, either male or female, at birth. For purposes of this paragraph, the term 'male' means a person born as a biological male and the term 'female' means a person born as a biological female."
That passage has been replaced with the following language:
"Female" means a biological female or a person who has a valid driver license or United States passport that describes the person as female on the license or passport.
"Male" means a biological male or a person who has a valid driver license or United States passport that describes the person as male on the license or passport.
In 2010, the State Department under Secretary Hillary Clinton announced a change to its passport policy that allowed a transgender person to obtain a passport that matched the gender with which that person identified. According to Transequality, the person must "have had clinical treatment determined by your doctor to be appropriate in your case to facilitate gender transition" and a "physician certification."
In order to change the gender on a Florida driver's license, a person must submit a name change request to a court and obtain a letter from his or her attending doctor.
The bill now also provides an amendment that would allow professional journalists to enter the locker room of a team of another gender to interview athletes.
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With the changes made, the bill has now passed its second committee stop in the house. The House Government Operations Subcommittee approved it today in a 9-4 vote. Rep. Ken Roberson was the only Republican to vote against the bill, noting, “I don’t see how you would enforce it without putting a security guard in front of every bathroom in Florida."
The bill must pass only one more committee before going to a vote before the full house.
Of course, to become law, the bill's senate companion must also be filed before being signed by Gov. Rick Scott. (He has not commented on the legislation.) The senate version has been referred to committees but so far has not been scheduled for a vote. That version, as filed, also makes no attempt to specifically define the version.
Transgender activists typically oppose legislation that requires transgender people to receive rights only after they've changed their identification, arguing that many do not have access to proper regular medical care or the money to pay for such care and court costs. Indeed, the bill's passage was met with anger by transgender activists on hand, who broke out into a chant of "Trans lives matter."