A controversial “bathroom bill” has been passed in Charlotte, North Carolina. The bill allows transgender individuals to choose a public restroom which corresponds to the gender they currently identify with, not their birth gender. Council members from the state’s largest city adopted the ordinance by a 7 to 4 vote on Monday.
Writes USA Today on Feb. 23: “Gov. Pat McCrory, previously Charlotte’s mayor, had called the idea a threat to public safety and warned that the state’s legislature might step in.”
Charlotte resident Lara Nazario, who now identifies as a female, spoke before the decision was handed down. “Being assigned male at birth — it can be dangerous if I walk into the men’s bathroom,” Lara said. “I’m told I am in the wrong one or ‘outed’ as transgender. This often leads to violence.”
Charlotte’s mayor, Jennifer Roberts, a Democrat, spoke moments after the vote was made. “I’m pleased that Charlotte has sent a signal that we will treat people with dignity and respect, even when we disagree,” she said.
Gov. McCrory, a Republican, countered that trying to change the bathroom policies in the city will “create major public safety issues.” He said the passing of the bill will only lead to more suits being filed. “This action of allowing a person with male anatomy, for example, to use a female restroom or locker room will most likely cause immediate state legislative intervention.”
A similar bill is being pushed through the Nevada legislature – though it’s taking the opposite stance. The proposed House Bill 1008, which only requires the approval of Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard, would force transgendered students in public schools to use the bathroom, locker room or shower room that corresponds to their birth gender, not to the gender they now identify with.
The Charlotte bill is set to take effect in April. The bill bans discrimination “on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression” in public places, but it’s the “bathroom bill” provision that has garnered the most attention. The bill would not apply to the city’s public schools.
Adds the CS Monitor: “Similar so-called bathroom bills have sparked heated debates in local and state governments around the United States in recent months. Supporters of such bills see the provision as a preservation of the dignity and safety of transgender individuals. Opponents say that the measure opens the door for sexual predators to gain access to bathrooms of the opposite sex.”
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