Apparently, removing public accommodation language from the HB 235, the Human Relations – Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity – Antidiscrimination bill, didn’t stave off the “bathroom bill” arguments by those who are against ordinary equality for transgender people.
From Metro Weekly‘s Discrimination Debate; Maryland House Committee Fields Testimony On Bill To Protect Transgender Community on March 9th’s House Health and Government Operations Committee hearing on the bill (emphasis added):
…Similar legislation, which included protections for transgender people with regard to Maryland public accommodations, has failed in the past. Yet despite the current bill’s exclusion of public accommodations, the opposition’s arguments have changed little: Such nondiscrimination legislation would confuse children and enable male pedophiles and rapists by allowing them access to women’s bathrooms.
“I had questions with my own sexuality, until God said ‘You’re a man, put away these childhood things,'” testified Robert Broadus, a Marylander opposing the legislation. “Don’t invade our rights to tell our children what we believe. … We believe that a man should be a man and a woman should be a woman.”
Elaine McDermott, of Maryland Citizens for a Responsible Government, said the bill will lead to unintended consequences.
“This bill is a friend to males with ill intentions,” McDermott she said, adding, “HB 235 robs me of my right to safety and privacy.“
The majority of Maryland’s Democratic legislators on the House Health and Government Operations Committee who stripped the public accommodation provisions from the gender identity civil rights bill didn’t quell the “bathroom bill” arguments, although that was the argument for removing the public accommodation language.
So what did LGBT community members in Maryland — especially the transgender members of the LGBT community in Maryland — actually get for the removal of the public accommodation language from the Human Relations – Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity – Antidiscrimination bill?
What we were gifted by the majority of the Democrats on the Maryland House Health and Government Operations Committee was community division.
It’s truly insulting that legislators and a state equality organization would consent to a bill that does not include provisions that protect transgender or gender non-conforming citizens to be in public spaces.
It’s insulting that we are being forced to fight for legislation to simply allow our friends and neighbors to walk into a restaurant, to use the bathroom, or to take their own children to a park without freedom from harassment.
And it’s insulting that, yet again, the LGBT community is being divided by those in power and, thus, ensuring that “equality” legislation is again keeping our community down.
Once again, in the name of “equality” legislation, our community is not only being divided, but is also being complicit in that division — using “the master’s tools to dismantle the master’s house.” Whatever yours or my stance on this particular piece of legislation, we cannot continue to allow those in power to divide us.
This piece of gender identity based equality legislation is insulting — and it will also save lives. It will ensure gender non-discrimination in the workplace and in housing — including homeless shelters. For many who are on the streets, those protections cannot wait. They cannot wait until a better bill is introduced, and they cannot wait until we break through the transphobia lurking within the halls of state legislatures.
I’m with GetEQUAL, and I’m reluctantly — and with excruciating pangs of frustration — suggesting that GetEQUAL support this gender identity civil rights bill — this bill that doesn’t include public accommodation antidiscrimination language. I know that some folks will hate me for my position, and will hate GetEQUAL if GetEQUAL adopts the position I’m advocating.
And, I know too that some folks will appreciate I’m supporting this bill, as crappy as this bill is.
But what I really hope is that this becomes a time for us to realize we need rally together in the future rather than to tear one another apart — as we in transgender community, as well as in broader LGBT community, are famous for doing. As long as we continue to play into the division dealt to us by legislators that has stymied us for so long, we will continue to fight for scraps of equality rather than the full banquet that we deserve.
We cannot allow Maryland’s legislators to get away with dividing us again and again, year after year. This has to end this year; we must fight for LGBT community civil rights from the position of moral authority that we have when we fight for ordinary equality…when we fight for civil rights.
Next year, I strongly believe we in LGBT community need to employ frequent use of the Gender Odyssey Model as a comprehensive strategy to battle the bathroom bill meme.
I said it before, I’ll say it again: The LGBT community has ceded the “bathroom bill” argument without a fight. And let me add that in ceding the argument, we have allowed others to divide our community. We in community must say, in solidarity, “Never again!”
It is possible to become discouraged about the injustice we see everywhere. But God did not promise us that the world would be humane and just. He gives us the gift of life and allows us to choose the way we will use our limited time on earth. It is an awesome opportunity.
* The Equality Maryland Press Release on The Gender Identity Bill
* Delegate Mary Washington’s Testimony On The Maryland’s Gender Identity Bill
* Senator Rich Madaleno’s Statement On HB 235 – The Gender Identity Civil Rights Bill
* Sen. Madaleno’s Continued Silence To His Constituents On Maryland’s Gender Identity Bill
* Maryland’s Seven LGBT Legislators Need To Speak Out As A Caucus For Transgender Equality
* Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination bill introduced in Maryland House
* ENDA: The LGBT Community Has Ceded The “Bathroom Bill” Argument Without A Fight
* ENDA: An 800-Pound Transgender Elephant – With Issues – In The Room
* Guest column by Kerry Eleveld – The False Choice: ENDA v. Marriage Equality