Bill would limit transgender bathroom use to biological sex in Minnesota
ST. PAUL -- Transgender people should be legally forced to use bathrooms associated with their biological sex, a group of Minnesota Republican lawmakers proposed Wednesday.
ST. PAUL - Transgender people should be legally forced to use bathrooms associated with their biological sex, a group of Minnesota Republican lawmakers proposed Wednesday.
The bill declares that a “person’s right of privacy” should trump any “claim of nontraditional (gender) identity” when it comes to which restroom or locker room a person uses. It would apply to schools and to private businesses, which would be legally barred from permitting access to restrooms and similar facilities “on any basis other than biological sex.”
“Bathrooms and locker rooms are intimate settings where the right to privacy and safety must not be threatened,” said Barb Anderson, a Champlin resident. “Please honor the wisdom of longstanding policies and traditions that have preserved personal privacy and have kept our girls and women safe.”
Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and community activists have vehemently opposed the measure, with the governor promising to veto it should it pass the Legislature.
States across the nation have debated similar measures amid a national debate about transgender people and what accommodations should be made for their gender identity. South Dakota’s Republican governor, Dennis Daugaard, recently vetoed a transgender bathroom bill because it “does not address any pressing issue” and was an issue best left to local decision-makers.
Bill needed for safety and privacy, supporters say
But supporters, who are bringing up the issue for the second year in a row, say it is a pressing issue. At a news conference Wednesday morning, a number of citizens told stories about feeling uncomfortable when biological males who identified as female started using women’s restrooms or changing rooms.
“I am unwilling to put our daughters and sons in harm’s way and tell them to expect to relinquish their privacy and safety rights at the bathroom door in order to appease a small and misguided minority,” said Jamie Knippel, a mother of three from Hastings.
Lead sponsor Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe, said he was inspired by a constituent who is now going to a different building at work to go to the bathroom because she doesn’t feel comfortable with a transgender woman using the woman’s bathroom.
Opponents say measure unneeded, discriminatory
OutFront Minnesota, a group that supports gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer rights, is opposed to the transgender bathroom bill.
“There are transgender Minnesotans who live all over our state,” said Monica Meyer, OutFront Minnesota’s executive director. “What they’re trying to do is live their lives and do what everyone else does, which is to try to use public accommodations, use the restrooms, and be safe, and be able to be a part of everyday life in our state.”
Dayton criticized both Republican lawmakers and activists in his condemnation of the bill.
“This is about pandering to their extreme base,” said Dayton, who called that Republican base “homophobic” and “wrong on the morality of it.”
Both sides say other creating hostile climate
Several Republican lawmakers criticized transgender activists for what they said was an ugly tone of their outreach in opposition to the bathroom bill.
“By 10 to one, the emails and phone calls coming out of the transgender community are coarse, they are threatening, they’re crude,” said Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson.
Meyer said it was the sponsors of the bill, not transgender people, who were creating a hostile climate.
“This bill, it feels very threatening to people who are transgender, because it basically is calling and saying that the transgender people should be discriminated against in our state,” she said.
The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce is taking no position on the bill right now, communications director Jim Pumarlo said.
The bill, House File 3396 , has not yet been scheduled for a hearing. Last year, House Republicans included the provision in their education budget proposal, but the idea failed to get support in the Senate.