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A “trial run” has been launched for a new law in a Maryland county that arguably would allow coed locker rooms in public accommodations, and women aren’t pleased with the results.
It happened this week when a man, wearing a skirt and makeup, walked into a women’s locker room at a health club.
“I could see his muscles, I could see his large hands. He was wearing a blue ruffled skirt that came down to above the knee,” Mary Ann Andree told WJLA-Television after the incident at the Rio Sport and Health Club in Gaithersburg.
It was about 1 p.m., when Andree was drying her hair, that the man, who was identified by the health club only as a member, entered, an action that critics of the new county ordinance say would be legal when the law takes effect in February.
“I was very upset, I’m still upset,” Andree told the station. “There’s a lot he could’ve seen.”
“It is becoming obvious that this bill will have very real and serious repercussions,” said Michelle Turner, a spokeswoman for the local organization that has adopted the Not My Shower slogan and is working on a petition that would have residents vote on the plan.
The group, Maryland Citizens for Responsible Government, has been critical of the suggestion since before it was given a green light by elected officials in Montgomery County and then signed into law by County Executive Ike Leggett.
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett
“No longer will women and girls be able to feel completely safe in the most private and personal bathroom and locker facilities of schools, public pools, malls, stores, health clubs, restaurants and other such public places throughout the county,” the group said earlier.
The organization said Leggett’s signature on the law means even religious schools could be forced to hire transgender teachers “and then also allow cross-dressing but biological males in your daughters’ school locker room.”
The new county law protects those with “gender identity” issues and then defines gender identity as “an individual’s actual or perceived gender, including a person’s gender-related appearance, expression, image, identity, or behavior, whether or not those gender-related characteristics differ from the characteristics customarily associated with the person’s assigned sex at birth.”
Patrick Lacefield, the county’s communications director, told WND the county’s legal team has advised that the provisions of the ban on discrimination by gender would not apply to “intimate facilities.”
However, he admitted nowhere in the law is that stated.
“We do not feel that it was necessary to explicitly state that,” he said.
Turner said more than 3,000 citizens already have signed the petition, which needs 25,000 signatures by Feb. 16 in order to put the law before voters in November.
Jonathan Adler, the president of Sport and Health, said the new law represents “new opportunities, and sport and health clubs will utilize this occasion to review our policies and procedures in Montgomery County with our legal counsel.”
“People in our county had better wake to the radical agenda to destroy our decency standards,” wrote one commenter on the television website. “This will happen all over the place in another month once the crazy transgender law becomes effective.”
Andree said she notified club staff members, but the man left the area before the staff could respond.
The club confirmed it already has a unisex changing room and that such transgender members are welcome to use that.
General Manager Kelly Nicholson-Glover said the club will keep its locker rooms segregated by sex, and it claims because it is membership-only it will not be affected by the new law, Bill 23-07, titled Non-Discrimination, Gender Identity.
“The county council frequently points out that the law excludes accommodations that are ‘distinctly private and personal’ – implying that ‘distinctly private and personal’ refers to bathrooms,” the citizens protest group said.
However, “‘distinctly personal and private’ in similar state statutes is usually interpreted as referring to private clubs and associations, and not to bathrooms,” said Susan Jamison, a lawyer from Poolesville.
She said in her opinion, the law is open to undesirable interpretations that threaten to put biological males in female public restrooms and locker rooms.
The citizens’ protest group said, “The bill will be clarified when access to women’s bathrooms is challenged and a suit is brought before the County’s Human Rights Commission – which is on record as saying it would interpret the bill as allowing a person to use the bathroom of his or her choice, based on that person’s perceived ‘gender identity.'”
“It is becoming obvious that this bill will have very real and serious repercussions,” said Turner. “Women cannot – and should not – feel safe in public restrooms with this bill hanging over their heads.”
The law, besides facing the petition effort, also could be targeted by a court action, according to officials with an advocacy law firm.
“The definition for ‘gender identity’ is so vague that no individual of ordinary intelligence can possibly know when they are violating Chapter 27,” Robert Tyler, general counsel for the Advocates for Faith & Freedom, told county officials in a letter.
“Pursuant to the definition of ‘gender identity,’ an individual can choose a gender without limitation whatsoever,” he said.
His comments noted the law creates a protected class of citizenry for individuals who claim a “gender identity” issue.
In a WND commentary, Olivia St. John wondered about why such legislation was even considered, “particularly for a small segment of people described by the American Psychiatric Association as disordered?”
The answer? she found: “The Transgender Law Center, or TLC – an organization dedicated to getting legal information into the hands of community members, attorneys, educators and others – designed a descriptive resource guide for transgender activists and their homosexual, lesbian and bisexual allies. The document, titled “Peeing in Peace,” promotes “gender neutral restrooms” in all sectors of society. Not surprisingly, it was partially funded by Clinton supporter George Soros and the Tides Foundation, generously supported by Teresa Kerry, wife of Sen. John Kerry.”
St. John continued, “The problem, according to TLC, is that many transgendered people have few safe places to go to the bathroom. They claim to ‘get harassed … and arrested in BOTH women’s and men’s rooms.’ One sufferer, who had clearly entered a restroom of the opposite sex, whined that he had been ‘dragged out by security guards.’
“Amusingly, this sounds as if the fuss is over ‘peeing rights,’ or about who has the right to urinate where. But think again. Seriously consider that your child is likely to find transsexualism not only discussed but also actively practiced in his public school at some point,” she said.
As WND reported, a resident, identified as “Lisa,” wrote to her elected representative on the board: “From what I’m reading, the person with the gender identity confusion is being protected by what she or he FEELS he or she is. Thus, we’d have to protect this person’s gender based upon what is in his or her MIND. So, if I’m in a bathroom all by myself late at night, and a man walks in, I am supposed to be okay with this? If I’m at a pool, in a women’s locker room, and a man walks in – I’m supposed to be okay with this? This is truly unbelievable, and I’m embarrassed that Montgomery County is even spending its time on this piece of nonsense.”
“Any time politicians write a law that violates the rights of others by forcibly invading their privacy, and forcing faith-based organizations and small employers to hire cross-dressers is bad law,” said Regina Griggs, executive director of PFOX.
Griggs noted, however, the American Psychiatric Association classifies gender identity disorder as a treatable mental illness, and Tyler called for county officials to start protecting and representing the citizens in the county.
“The female residents of Montgomery County clearly have a right of privacy that prohibits all persons of the opposite sex ‘from using a restroom, locker room, or other similar facility designated for females,'” Tyler said. “It is ridiculous to place the desires of persons suffering from gender identity disorder in front of the constitutional rights and safety of 99 percent of the residents in Montgomery County.”