Kudos to Lindsey McPherson for her excellent article on the passage of the gender-identity bill by the Howard County Council and what it may portend for a statewide measure.
One thing that should be added, however, is that the bill before the 2011 General Assembly did not include language relating to "public accommodations." This was a decision made by the bill's sponsor, Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk, and other proponents who believed the elimination of "public accommodations" from the bill would help pass it. The strategy did not work.
Public accommodations has been a sticking point among legislators who oppose such legislation. They fear — irrationally, I believe — that a transgender woman with "male parts" entering a women's restroom would put other women at risk for being attacked.
In Montgomery County, where a comprehensive gender-identity bill that included "public accommodations" has been in effect for three years, no incidents have been reported. This was stated during a public hearing before the Howard County Council on Nov. 21. Jonathan Shurberg, a Silver Spring attorney involved in the passage of the law, testified that there has not been a single reported case of such an attack.
Moreover, in a Dec. 6 decision by the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Georgia — a rather conservative court — regarding a discrimination case brought to the court by a transgender woman, the court decried bathroom fears "hypothesized or invented post hoc in response to litigation" are not genuine justifications.
It's time to put away those fears and stereotypes and end discrimination for all of Maryland's citizens.
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