Transgender Laws and Public Accommodations, Coming to a Baltimore County Restroom Near You

If one happens to be a father – particularly one who is raising daughters – then surely this inquiry rings familiar: “Dad, where can I go to the bathroom?”
Now, at home or at grandmas or even in, say, a state park, this would not necessarily present a problem. But when that father/daughter combination is out and about and using public accommodations – especially when the child happens to be too young to do so on her own – it becomes a complicated test of parenting skills.
Does dad subject her to the men’s room? Does he accompany his daughter into the ladies’ room? Or, does he send her into the women’s facility on her own and wait nervously for her to emerge?
In today’s politically-correct-run-amok climate none-of-the-above seems the safest choice (specifically in regard to the second option), although if the Baltimore County Council has its way the line between gender-specific restrooms is about to become unbelievably blurry.
Currently before the council is Bill 3-12, an act “concerning human relations” that, if passed, would prohibit “discrimination against a person in certain matters on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression; defining terms; and generally relating to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.”
In plain English: those who engage in discriminating against any person who assumes a “gender identity” other than the one assigned to said person at birth will be prosecuted under the county’s human rights laws.
While such legislation will protect those questioning their sexual identity from being denied housing, employment, education or financing, it will also allow those considering a new sexual identity to use a bathroom facility with which they most identify.
Discrimination as a result of that person’s “appearance” will also be a violation of the human rights laws, thereby opening the door for anyone dressed as a woman (crossdressers, transvestites, pre-op transsexuals, etc) to use a public facility currently designated for a female whose sexual identity was ‘assigned (and agreed upon) at birth.’
Translated: as currently written, Bill 3-12 would allow someone dressed as Dustin Hoffman’s “Tootsie” character to enter the female locker room in your neighborhood fitness club and do so with the full protection of the law.
There are now more than 140 jurisdictions in the United States that have transgender discrimination laws in place, yet many of them do not address the issue of public accommodations – the matter of allowing males who have yet to undergo the surgery that would make them a female access to private areas currently frequented by our mothers, sisters, wives and daughters (or in the case of a female-to-male transgender our fathers, brothers, husbands and sons).
Why? Because if there’s one feature elected officials from all across the country have in common it’s their collective ability to avoid difficult decisions and settle for a knee-jerk (re: easy) resolution to the problem.
In this instance it was the hasty reaction of county councilman Tom Quirk (Catonsville) who introduced this legislation as a result of a 2011 attack on a transgendered woman – Chrissy Lee Polis – in a Baltimore County McDonald’s.
But just as the laws against murder do not prevent killings; or the laws against robbery do not prevent car theft; or the laws against public officials taking bribes from grocery stores do not prevent state senators from taking bribes from grocery stores, having hate crime legislation on the books would not have prevented Ms. Polis from suffering the beating she received at the hands of the animals that attacked her last April.
Some may argue that this type of legislation may result in even more violence against transgenders, especially in such instances where one’s “appearance” leaves little doubt as to the “sexual identity” disguised beneath the clothing.
Think Robin Williams as Mrs. Doubtfire… with five o’clock shadow.
Regardless of what public accommodation supporters argue, not addressing this aspect of any transgender discrimination law will allow any man (or woman) who is so inclined to enter a restroom, locker room, dressing room, etc that is patronized by members of the opposite sex.
And while the transgendered (or those transitioning to a different sex) ask that they not be stereotyped as sexual predators, those satisfied with their current sexual identity ask that they not be branded bigots or hateful just because they are uncomfortable with the prospect of being forced by law to inhabit the toilet stall next to a man in woman’s clothing.   
No, this is not an effort to lump all transgender men with transvestites, and neither should the transgendered see it as an opportunity to pretend that sexual predators do not come in all shapes, sizes, appearances and gender identities.
Which begs the question: If sexual predators are already stalking victims in public areas then why would a county council vote to give them protection?
In the end we can all count on government to get this issue – like so many that have preceded it – spectacularly wrong.
Transgender people have been using public restrooms since, well, the advent of public restrooms, and until lawmakers nationwide brought the focus to the forefront (only to ignore it) shared accommodations has been the Spot-a-Pot version of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.’
Bill 3-12 does little more than put both sides of this argument at a higher risk of victimization, but it should at least make those dad/daughter restroom decisions much easier – especially if papa starts packing around a Bouffant wig and a pair of Prada Slingbacks.

You can contact the Baltimore County Council by clicking this link or by calling 410.887.3196

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